Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Middle Eastern Scene
While metal bands of pretty much any sub-genre can be found all over the world, different areas have become well known for specific sounds: the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Scandinavian black metal, Bay Area thrash, and so on. But metal continues to spread and evolve across the planet, and now the various Middle Eastern nations are not only developing their own underground scene, but also inspiring a traditional Arabic sound in metal bands from other countries.
Israeli act Orphaned Land may be one of the most well known, with latest album “All Is One” nearing release through Century Media, but there are many more just waiting to be explored in our never ending quest to unearth the metal underground.
Today we’ll cover three lesser known bands either residing in or strongly influenced by the Middle East. If you dig these acts but want something more on the power or progressive side, be sure to also check out Myrath, which was covered in our look at bands getting exposure through the Prog Power USA festival.
Currently down to three members and now seeking a new keyboardist for live shows, Egyptian outfit Sand Aura released debut full-length album “Elegy of the Orient” last year. The album can be ordered directly through the band’s website or streamed in its entirety via Bandcamp.
Sand Aura covers a whole lot of ground sound-wise, working off a proto death metal base with deep and guttural vocals, adding in a folksy edge, and then also bringing out clean female vocals. Give it a listen and decide how it sounds yourself through the player below.
Arkan actually currently resides in France, but the Middle Eastern elements are out in full force across the band’s discography, consisting primarily of two full-length albums “Hilal” (reviewed here) and “Salam” (reviewed here).
As far as the music goes, Arkan’s tracks consist of pretty brutal death metal with a melodic twist in the form of traditional instruments like the bendir, derbouka, tabla, and cajon. Rounding out the low end growls come the addition of some melodic clean singing to balance the extreme side. Songs from both full-length albums can be heard in the clips below.
A Saudi Arabian three piece, Al Namrood is a black metal band of the more kvlt variety that also utilizes a good deal of keyboards, which is where the Arabic sound primarily comes in. For an added touch, many of the guitar riffs also mimic traditional Middle Eastern instruments.
The harsh, croaking vocals may not work for anyone, but they’ll fit just fine for fans of groups like IXXI or Marduk. Al Namrood currently has three full-length albums, the latest being 2012’s “Kitab Al Awthan,” and also dropped the new “Jaish Al-Namrood” EP early this year. Get acquainted with the band through these tracks:
These are only three out of many Middle Eastern bands well worth hearing. Let us know what you thought of these picks in the comments below, and be sure to recommend any groups you know of that should be added to the list! Check back in again next Monday as we continue to unearth the metal underground.
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