Folk metal has a tendency to be an insular, European-centric genre, particularly so at the intersection of folk and black metal. But looking past the acts that have gained mainstream attention yields many and sundry iterations of folk metal as diverse as the cultures across the world that make them. Since 2008, Saudi Arabia’s AlNamrood have blended black metal’s staunch anti-religion focus and dark aggression with the folk melodies and instruments of their native Middle Eastern home. Ahead of the release of their newest album, 10 Years of Resistance, AlNamrood’s vocalist Humbaba was gracious enough to answer our set of Profile questions. Read on below the cut.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
Never really thought it through. We were young, and were busily rejecting the religious chanting that oftentimes had been shoved in my throat during school time. During the 80’s-90’s era, people who wanted to rebel against their own culture, they’d simply get into western music regardless of the content of this music. Western music was taboo and Haram (according to religious clerk cunts). When I first got into Metal, immediately I wanted to get a leather jacket and start a band desperately, but I couldn’t find anyone else. In early 2000 the internet arrived, which has opened great opportunities for us to discover bands as well as other genres of music. Unfortunately we have NOT achieved that “great success we’ve always dreamed of” due to alert security reasons which has prevented us from performing live shows. Hence why we’re anonymous!
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
We’ve got too many messed up stories, I don’t even know which one to disclose here.
It was the first project we started in the mid-2000’s era, Mephisophilus. I remember one time, Mephisto and I and previous members were at a neighboring country, Bahrain, which is the only closest country to our city that has access to bars/alcohol. So we were at this lounge bar full of American marines and Asian prostitutes flirting and sitting on marines laps. For some odd reason there was an open mic night with a geared stage and anyone was welcome to perform. We literally jumped on stage and performed one of our shitty old black metal songs. As I remembered none of us were ready, we just wanted to be on stage. I asked my mate if he can keep d-beat drumming the whole song. He said: “I will try my best.” Mephisto grabbed one of the guitars on stage and tuned it wrong (I’m not sure what he was doing). Ostron located himself on keyboard, even though he wasn’t in Mephisophilus and we didn’t have any songs with keyboards as far as I remember. I located myself on mic. The moment we started to play in front of the marine crowd they began booing: “BooooOOO” “You suck” “Play Metallica.” I guess Metallica was the only thing they knew! HAHA
Bar staff told us to step out. “People want to listen to real good music.” Next thing, some fashion trendy dudes who work for the bar interfered to save this awkward situation and played a song just to keep these assholes happy.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
Great things happening: newer bands coming out while keeping the old school tradition of heavy metal alive — NWOFBH, speed, thrash, first wave of black metal, uk82 punk. Bands such as Midnight, Toxic Holocaust, Power From Hell, ShitFucker, SavageMaster, Indian Nightmare, Nuctemeron, Diabolic Night, Black Magic, Raw Poison, many awesome underground Brazilian heavy metal maniacs as well as underground Canadian street crust punk. Personally when I listen to these bands I feel the true spirit of Rock n Roll that I can define as notorious Heavy Metal.
Worst thing happening is technical death metal and metal core styles. What’s even worse is that execrating political correctness term which shows an extreme intolerance towards many normal topics, or at least that I find normal. For example, an anti-Islamic act would immediately be accused of racism but it’s totally OKAY to be an anti-Christian act!!!!! I find it stupid. People in the West need to understand that Islam is a religion and not a bloody race! And for the love of goat head stop assuming that all Arabs are Muslims by default because it doesn’t make you logical, it makes you a crippled ignorant…. Wait, am I not typing within the political correctness range? Oh guilty me.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Wide range of music, all over the place. Happy to take a few minutes to list some.
Lately I’ve been listening to: Midnight, Toxic Holocaust, Power From Hell, ShitFucker, SavageMaster, Indian Nightmare, Nuctemeron, Diabolic Night, Black Magic, Raw Poison and…
Dark Cabaret/Gypsy/Blues/Folk/Jazz: The Tiger lilies, Edith Piaf, Screamin’Jay Hawkins, Thin Lizzy, Freddie King, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Cab Calloway, Taraf de Haïdouks, Hexvessel, Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Urban Voodoo Machine.
Arabic Folklore /Arabic Mysticism: Umm Kulthum, Sadoon Jaber, Farid al-Atrash, Firouz, Cariokee, Darwish Master, Nazem Al Ghazali.
Punk/Metal/Occultist Doom: The Exploited, Discharge, G.B.H, UK Chaos, Broken Bones, Anti Cimex, Amebix, Doom, English Dogs, GG Allin, Mentors, Venom, Sarcófago, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Root, Sabbat (Jap) , Bathory, Darkthrone, Hellhammer, Midnight, Toxic Holocaust, Power from Hell, Blasphemy, Sodom, Kreator, Lobotomia (Brz), Melechesh, Coven, Old Candlemass, Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Abysmal Grief, Acid Witch, Secret Chiefs 3, Destroyer666 Goat Seamen, Beherit, Mortuary Drape, Bulldozer…..etc. Also, I support many underground bands with dirty, low quality recordings.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
From our end, most of the issues we deal with are social injustice, being forced to fake a certain social status in order to survive, classism (some tribes are classified as class A and some come second and the list goes on…etc), racism, xenophobia, the corruption of Capitalism, exploitation, forced brainwashing since childhood. Education is biased.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Keep it true to heavy metal and NEVER sell out.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
To spread chaos, hate and violence and become an infamous act if we aren’t already. World domination is obviously fucked up but it’s not our job to save the world anyway!
The Occult: Al Namrood has already possessed our souls and living within our lives. He will summon those who listen to us.
Yes we all do have jobs, but can’t disclose them for security reasons. I have fun hobbies that I can’t speak of…..
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
To continue doing what we do is the only thing we do.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Humbaba and AlNamrood for their time!