What the hell does that say? I have no idea. We’ll deal with it later. But first, I need to open up about something. Which is something I rarely do. I’ve been under heavy fire the last month or two from everyone (that lives in my head) because of my depressing decrease in alcohol consumption. Yes, it’s true. I don’t like not drinking and I feel like everyone (that lives in my head) respects me less. My maybe me friends, family, and liver appreciate it, but I don’t have to deal with them around the clock. Ok fine, maybe I do, but I don’t care what they think. So it’s cool! I suppose I can always console with this guy, but that will only take me so far. No matter! I have followed the signs and am ready to go for another episode of Drinking With Satan. I could never let you cretins down. So let us begin.
Now, what ‘signs’ might I be referring to? Let me ask a question first. Have any of you ever reached for a drink expecting one thing (not alcohol) and come to discover in very abrupt fashion that it was something else entirely (…alcohol)? The answer is yes, you have. And that is how my evening went as soon as I got home from my run. Water and gin are not the same thing. And gin doesn’t belong in Perrier bottles. Granted, Perrier bottles don’t belong in my house, yet there it was. I mean, is it weird that I drink from opened containers that weren’t previously mine? Maybe. But then again, is it weird that I’m sitting here not wearing pants telling you this? …Probably. But none of that is weirder than the fact that I decided winter was the best time to pretend to feel like a healthy, functioning human piece of shit. But I did anyway. Whatever. Beyond that, the fact that the first thing I saw upon entering my grocery store — A place I hate with all my fucking heart — were cases of Sam Adams Winter Lager, I knew what direction I wanted to go in tonight. But really, guys. I fucking hate grocery stores. Everything about them. And by everything I mean… other shoppers. It’s the worst. They’re the worst. That’s why half my income goes into restaurants. And thinking about grocery stores has put me in a bad mood so I’m going to move on. The point is, the signs were there. So I am drunk.
My drink of choice tonight is the aforementioned Samuel Adams Winter Lager in large quantities. Keeping it simple. And ‘aforementioned’ is a word I didn’t expect to spell right the first time. So I’m feeling better. I don’t know why, but I love this beer. It’s not very good. The flavor is overly complex so you can’t actually taste any of the ingredients that, you know, define beer. But it has a nice personal touch to it. I remember many evenings in Syracuse throwing these back in the dead of winter as the snow flew outside of Alpha Sigma Satan. They are memories I will always be fond of, and because of that, so is the beer.
If you enjoyed last month’s episode where I got super weird and reviewed some ultra obscure tapes I picked up in my travels, prepare to be ferociously disappointed. I’ve exerted as little effort as possible in the Thanksgiving episode of this column. Halloween is more important, anyway. And to be completely honest, we’re getting to the end of the year and I just don’t see myself giving much of a shit about new black metal albums coming out between now and 2016. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a little curious about what’s out there. So, as a means of deviating from more of the same shit from northern Europe, I decided to cover a band called AlNamrood from Saudi Arabia. Their latest album, Diaji Al Joor, drops November 27th. So… what the hell? Let’s check out some Arabian black metal! Which I didn’t even think was a thing!
The fact is, I very much appreciate the fact that black metal is no longer defined by the constraints of the early 1990s in Scandinavia. Obviously, the Emperors and Mayhems defined the genre as we know it. But there is much to be said for all the subgenres that have deviated from those black metal origins. Atmospheric, shoegaze, melodic, take your pick… the tangents are far-reaching and have done a lot for an often criticized genre. I remember earlier this year (all the way back) I talked about Volahn’s Aq’Ab’Al which, at the time, was a fascinating take on black metal because of it’s use of Mayan theology and Native American sounds. In a similar manner, I was curious about what AlNamrood might bring to the table given their region of the world. What more could be added to the black metal genre? Well, quite a bit. Maybe too much.
First of all, the foundation-building wind instruments and chants of the introductory “Dhaleen” set a precedent… of some kind. I could spend ages getting into how ridiculous a black metal project out of the middle east actually is, but that seems like hard work so I’m not going to do it. I’ll just focus on this sound like I’m supposed to per my own rules that I can’t remember. Anyway, once you start getting in the heart of the album (and by heart I obviously mean track number two), the vocals come into play. They’re a weird half spoken half growled thing that… almost works? I can’t tell but I’m not that into it. It’s too prominent and it’s borderline comical. That said, all the instrumentals involved here actually work pretty damn well together. Except for the fact that the rhythm guitar is way too overshadowed by, well, the rest of it. And blast beats are implemented at the wrong time and don’t come through with nearly enough emphasis. But still, things blend rather nicely.
I’m going to stop using track names because learning the names and/or copy and paste is too much of a pain in the ass at this point. But working through the middle stages of the album, the differing tempos from one track to another become noticeable. It helps the songs deviate from one another. Then again, when you use like eight instruments (many of which I’ve never heard of, I’m sure) in each song, there’s some room for deviation. So I’m glad they didn’t fuck that up. And I gotta say, when this thing wants to be heavy, it can be an absolute beast. There are thrash influences in some of the punishment it dishes out, which adds some consistency in feel, but it never loses sight of it’s black metal core in the rhythms and song compositions. Also, there are some really interesting atmospheric and melodic elements in the beginning stages of the final third of this album. The regional musical instruments really come into play here on, say, “Hayat Al Khezea” and there are times you forget you’re listening to a black metal album through time changes and instrumental interludes. Not exactly a bad thing.
I’ll be honest. I’m failing at trying to construct cohesive thoughts about this album. There’s a lot going on and frankly Diaji Al Joor deserves way more analysis than I’m willing to (or capable of) providing in this state. But I respect the shit out of what this band is doing across the board and how long they’ve been doing it. This is not a long listen… you’ll get through it in 40 minutes and I encourage you do so when you’re not hammered. There’s a lot of interesting stuff at work here, it just takes serious getting used to. So. You go do that. I’m going to go make a 1 am sandwich and maybe sleep/maybe put on pants. Who knows!
“Ein Bier… bitte.”