May 032024

Two years ago the long-running Israeli black metal band Arallu, whose roots go back to the late ’90s, released their latest album under the imposing title Death Covenant. And the music is also imposing — ferocious, heavy, often vast and towering — but it’s also complex, dynamic, and exotic (for want of a better word) in its seamless incorporation of Middle Eastern folk melody and instrumentation.

It’s a striking example of how a style of extreme music born in the cold regions of northern Europe can be reconfigured and reborn to suit the terrain and traditions of a dramatically different world. And its changing musical manifestations and elaborate songcraft make it an album that rewards careful and extended listening in addition to firing up the blood and casting spells on a first spin, the kind of record that reveals new discoveries with each journey through its 10 songs.

One of this writer’s favorite songs on Death Covenant is the penultimate track, “Empire of Salt“, and so it’s a real pleasure to host the premiere of Arallu‘s transfixing video for that song today — especially since we’re doing it on a Bandcamp Friday, a good day to pick up records like Death Covenant. Continue reading »

Oct 032022


As I forecast in Part 1 of this column yesterday, Part 2 takes us off in some unusual directions. Much of the time black metal is still in the mix, but in most of the songs featured here it’s more of a jumping-off point to other wide-ranging experiences than it is the rigid core of the music — or it’s not present at all, except perhaps as a sinister spirit that hovers on the edges.

This excursion will be welcomed by some of you, and some of the songs will probably disgruntle others. But there’s only one way to find out, and that’s to expose yourself to the music. I hope you’ll do that with all the tracks here, all of which are from forthcoming albums or EPs.

ARALLU (Israel)

This long-running Israeli band, whose roots are in the late ’90s, will be releasing a new album (their 8th one overall) in November. With the imposing title of Death Covenant, it follows up the excellent En Olam from three years ago. I’ve already written here about one of the new album’s advance tracks, “Desert Shadows Will Rise“, and now we have another one. Continue reading »

Jun 192022


After a lapse last week this column re-takes its usual place on the weekly calendar to blacken the sabbath. I’ll quickly confess that I bit off more than I can chew in the writing, and more than most of you will have time to hear in the listening: I’ve picked two complete albums and mixed them together with four new singles. Despite the challenges to myself and to you, I felt so strongly about all these choices that I couldn’t resist.

As is often the case, I haven’t lived with either of the albums long enough to do more than provide scattered notes about them. That’s the consequence of needing to write about something new every day. Settling in gives way to scurrying. But you’ll have a better chance to settle in with these releases, and I hope you will. All the singles sound fantastic too.


Death Siege is the fifth full-length from this talented band, who are charging toward us after a six-year interval following the last album. The new one is 40 minutes long, and the cover art by Abomination Hammer alone would make most people want to find out what’s going on in the music. My friend Andy‘s Synn Report about the band’s discography back in 2016 would provide more reasons.

What Hierophant say about the music is this: “”With Death Siege, we crossed the gateway to the abyss. Nihilism will overcome, when the sky will burn in fire. Death, Chaos, Annihilation.” Continue reading »

Jan 032021


Here we are, in this uncertain in-between time, with one foot still in the old year (because it seems to keep moving forward, refusing to let go) and one foot in the new year (which isn’t exactly providing solid ground to stand on). And so it is in the micro-world of extreme metal, when we’re still catching up with late-year releases while looking ahead to what’s coming in 2021. What you’ll find in this blackened round-up is a mix of such things.


To begin, I’ve chosen two songs that appeared during the last two months of 2020, both of which are part of an album entitled Siste stopp skjærsilden that’s planned for release later this month. The band is Noen Hater Oss from Stavanger, Norway, which began as the solo project of Raum and now also includes vocalist Morloc. Their discography includes a demo and two full-lengths, but they are new to me. Continue reading »

Sep 222020


This makes the third time we’ve done a premiere for the Israeli black metal band Arallu. The first time was about six weeks before the release of their 2017 album Six. The next time, roughly two years later, it was a song from their most recent full-length, En Olam. And today it’s a video for a song that’s… more than 20 years old!

It was 1999 when Arallu released their debut album, The War on the Wailing Wall, following an initial 1997 demo with the same title. In the decades that have followed that release, the band’s music evolved in dramatic ways. As we wrote about their most recent record, “the songs capture archetypes of violence and bloodshed, defiance of orthodoxy and devilish supremacy, but they also become spells,” and, as they had done before, the band augmented the metal “with the tones of ancient instruments, among them Saz, Oud, Kanoon, and Drabukka”, which were used to enhance the strong influence of Middle Eastern melodies.

Turning back the clock to the 1999 debut album, you can perceive the seeds that would grow into what the band has become today. But apart from the historical significance of the record, it turns out to have withstood the test of time very well. And so it’s not surprising that, at last, the album is being reissued on vinyl for the first time, complete with new vinyl mastering by Patrick W. Engel at “Temple of Disharmony”. And it’s one of those 1999 tracks that we’re bringing you today, accompanied by video of Arallu, as they are today, performing the song. Continue reading »

Jun 302019


En Olam, the Hebrew title of the forthcoming seventh album by the Jerusalem-based band Arallu, means “There Is No World”. As the band explain, “it describes the fear we all live and feel”, and in particular a fear born from the discovery “that we all live inside an illusion, and everything we know does not exist” but is instead “just an imagined picture”. “All that you thought protected you is just a dream and you’re actually hanging between the earth and sky… You realize that nothing ever existed and that there is nothing…”

The terrors of such a nihilistic revelation can be found within En Olam, but they seem to stand side by side with unearthly wonders. The music often seems to channel occult conjurations and the re-emergence of ancient mystical forces. Parting of the veil that passes for reality reveals not the void, but another world far different from what seems to surround us, in which unseen primeval powers still reign. The songs capture archetypes of violence and bloodshed, defiance of orthodoxy and devilish supremacy, but they also become spells. Continue reading »

Aug 032017


It’s not uncommon to hear wisps of traditional Middle Eastern music in extreme metal — or at least what most of us in the West would identify as Middle Eastern music based on some kind of passing experience (putting to one side that Middle Eastern music spans an enormous breadth of territory and cultures, from Morocco to Iran).

In many instances, the incorporation of such melodies by Western bands seems intended to create an exotic atmosphere (or at least exotic to Western ears), or in some cases a sense of ancient demonic forces looming in the shadows, or a feeling that the listener is in the presence of pagan rituals or arcane forms of mysticism that pre-date today’s dominant forms of monotheism by millennia.

But very few metal bands go as far as Arallu in making Middle Eastern musical traditions the beating heart of their compositions. You will hear the extent of their dedication in the song we’re premiering today, the third track from their new album, Six, a song called “Adonay“. Continue reading »