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One-Riff Death Metal - 91%

backtonorth, February 27th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Memento Mori

Really. The riffs on this full-length can be practically be counted on two hands. Sound compelling? It honestly shouldn't, and it won't be on the first listen, either. Perhaps even listens #2 and #3 will be just as boring, and have you lamenting your wasted time.

However! Ziyadah (what? Dutch doom/death is weird) will eventually and absolutely subsume you with its brute mass, given the opportunity. Imagine Obituary without the speedy breaks; Winter without the consistent chugging, double-bass and choruses -- fundamentally, it is dirge-like, Celtic Frost-influenced death metal exposed at its hardened foundation.

There is little true structure to be found, with most of the variation coming from the wandering vocals. Which, by the way, are excellent, trenchant growls, delivering non-linear, existentially poignant lyrics. And it is slow, and blanketed by a pulsating, moss-like carpet of bass.

The opening track "Witchfire,' with its three (!) riffs, sets the stage beautifully. Two of the "riffs," as is often the case, are two- and three-chord wonders with only the slightest melodic touches. "Reverse" is sickeningly hypnotic ("Haunted! Visions! Man chases his incompetence!" over, and over, and over). This is complemented later on the album by the wonderfully dreadful pair of "Individual" and "Aimless," from whose simple repetition and crawling rants emerges a sense of true personal fear. Only the final track "Die" isn't perfectly to my liking, but it's still a gut-punch, and I seem to be in the minority there so I can leave it be.

It's easy to see why Ziyadah was overlooked. It was 1993, on the so-so Adipocere Records, and has ambiguous album art and a superficially stupid formula. But it works, it is great, and anybody who covets death metal purity should own a copy. Sincerest recommendations.

Spina Bifida - Ziyadah (1993) - 95%

Unsilent_Storms, April 8th, 2005

What is it about the early 90’s, Holland and doom/death metal? It amazes me the sheer number of quality doom and death metal bands coming out from the tiny country of Holland in that time period between 1990 and 1996. Spina Bifida was one of those bands; it consisted of members from Acrostichon and Disembowel, they released only one album, one of the heaviest doom metal albums ever, “Ziyadah”.

The album consists of 10 tracks (including the intro and outro) of slow, ultra dense doom metal. The production is brilliant; each instrument sounds perfectly clear and compliments the low growling vocals. The lyrics are obscure rantings about humanity and abstract forms of evil and despair. Even though the pace of these songs is slow and dense, the guitar riffs flow brilliantly, never boring the listener and creating a sense of total annihilation.

The album is all around solid, no fillers, my personal favorites are “Verdict” with a Black Sabbath like riff throughout the entire song, “Witchfire” with its crushing bass line and “Die”, how can you not love a song that says “Die, Die, Die!” in a way that makes you feel like they means it! This band is recommended for fans of other doom metal bands like Mystic Charm, Beyond Belief, and Castle or if you appreciate the harder side of metal.