Al Namrood (Saudi Arabia) 07/11/2012
Metal in the countries of the Middle East is prohibited so the appearance of a band from such country that it plays extreme Metal is a fact which by itself is intriguing. When the music which is presented is also special and at a good level, then it motivates you even more to listen and search. Something like that happened with Al Namrood from Saudi Arabia. I contacted Mephisto, the composer, guitarist and bassist of the band and he answered not only about music but also about the difficulties that he confronts in his country.
1. Hello Mephisto, thanks for the interview. Do you want to give some information about the history of Al Namrood (beginning until now)? What does Al Namrood means?
Mephisto: AlNamrood started as a two men project, it was founded by a vocalist Mukadars who shared his interest with Ostron to create an Oriental Metal band based on Arabic lyrics, the band started as oriental, but not too long until Mephisto joined the team to add the value of Black Metal into the category. AlNamrood name refers to a Babylon King Nimrod, a mighty hunter who destroyed Babylon tower and referred himself to Supreme Being, creator and ruler of the universe.Timeline:2008: The first EP (Atba’a AlNamrood, English Translation: Nimrod Followers) was recorded by basic equipment and techniques. At the same month the band has contracted with Shaytan Productions, an Indie label from Canada.2009: AlNamrood released the first full length album (Astfhl Al Tha’ar, English Translation: Vengeance Intensified), Mukadars has left the band after then for personal reasons.2010: The second full length album was written (Estorat Taghoot, Translation: A Legend of Tyranny), this time, Mardus from Narjahanam joined the band as a guest vocalist to support the release.2012: Kitab Al Awthan (Translation: Book of Idols) was written and released, Mudamer has join the band as a vocalist.
2. This year you just released your third album, “Kitab Al Awthan”. Do you want to describe me the details of the recording? I think that you have increased the Arabian against Metal elements. What do you think about that?
Mephisto: Kitab Al Awthan main aim was to assert on The Arabian History more deeply than the previous releases, when we wrote the album, we were thinking to push more oriental instruments such as Nay and different styles of Kanun, and also, we chose different theme so the complete atmosphere has to be interconnected. Kitab Al Awthan compromises the ancient beliefs of the Arabs, representing the myriad demons, djinn, demigods, and deities which represented the polytheistic Culture of Pre-Islamic Arabia.
3. How the reaction of the fans and press to “Kitab Al Awthan” was? After eight-nine months, are you still satisfied by the final result? Is there anything that you would like to have done it differently?
Mephisto: It was positive and motivating; of course we are satisfied of our releases, although we always want to make greater sound, but overall for a self-production it’s satisfying.
4. It is obvious that you are influenced by the ancient Arabian culture. How do you get inspired to write music?
Mephisto: We are Arab, it was very straight forward to embed the ancient Arabian culture in our music, we are aware of the Arab and world history as well.
5. Your lyrics are written in Arabian, so do you want to explain more thoroughly the topics that you deal with in your albums?
Mephisto: Basically, our lyrics articulate the holy wars of Babylon (Estorat Taghoot album only) and ancient Arabia, history of pre-religion era and post-religion, selected characters from narratives aspects as such Nebuchadnezzar and also the concept of Evil and it’s interaction with ignorance and mischief (since Arabian history was full of it).
6. All your albums have been released by Shaytan Productions. Are you satisfied by the support and respect that they show to the band?
Mephisto: Of course, we appreciate the work of Shaytan Productions and their great efforts in promoting the band.
7. I think that you record your albums in Bahrain. I would like to ask you if Metal and especially extreme Metal is banned in Saudi Arabia as in other countries of the Middle East? Tell me more about the attitude of your country and people of Saudi Arabia towards extreme Metal.
Mephisto: Actually, we record our albums in Saudi Arabia; Only Estorat Taghoot was partially recorded in Bahrain. Needless to say, Music Production is forbidden by Islamic law of Saudi Arabia, penalties may reach to 100 lashes or even death if it’s proven that this music activity is anti-religion. So Metal is considered a taboo, mischief and a work of the devil. People in Saudi Arabia are ok with that because most of them are religious and the other parts are pretending to be liberal but at the end they fall into the foolery category. Metal is not welcomed in the country.
8. You are usually mentioned as an anti-islamic Black Metal band. Do you agree with that? What is your opinion about that anti-islamic movement that has risen in the Middle Eastern countries? Have you ever had any problems with fanatic islamists?
Mephisto: That’s what is called, in fact religion doesn’t mean anything to us, we have risen in middle radical Islamic regime, we’ve witnessed the brutality and savagery of Islamic law including public execution, public torture, we’ve overcame the brainwashed that we received on daily basis in Schools, they have taught us that we must hate the none-Muslims, never give them any positive attitude and always support Jihad. With all this savagery and barbaric pressure, it didn’t affect us and never went through our brain, so we are not interested in any anti-Islamic thing; it’s something below our grade, why should we undignify ourselves. However, we completely understand the oppressive and inhuman life that Islamic regime put people through, and we know why the anti-islamic activity started; those people really had enough of religion and cannot tolerate any insolence, and number of that activist is increasing in the Middle East which is a sign of exploding reaction that religion brought on itself.
9. Do you think that movements like the mentioned above could wake people up, could change the general approach of life of people there?
Mephisto: I don’t think so, As I mentioned, the majority are ok with the system, you don’t see people rejecting anything in Saudi Arabia, probably because they have born and risen in this environment so they see it normal life, just like when someone is born in a jungle and lived there for a while, you wouldn’t expect them to be ok to move on to a city. Environmental factors are chief here. And also the education system is based on Islamic line, from the age of 4 they teach children how to ignore everything about the world and dedicate life for religion servitude. Ethics are absent, and principles are out of question.
10. What is your opinion about islam and generally about “religion”? Does the word “religion” mean something to you?
Mephisto: We made it clear that religion doesn’t mean anything to us, we see religion as a source of major problems in the whole world, people killing each other on the name of religion, hate, hostility and taken over aggravate in the name of religion and all what is left is who do you follow, if you are not on our side, you are our enemy. Religion is irrational.
11. Are there any other bands from Saudi Arabia that you respect and you would like to suggest to me? Is there any kind of cooperation with any other band?
Mephisto: No, we are not in contact with local scene due to the differences in orientation, we don’t like the direction of the local bands and how they take metal for misconceptions.
12. I think that you don’t perform live, is that correct? Have you ever thought about playing live some day? It is difficult to find members and rehearse or you just don’t want to perform live?
Mephisto: We are truly looking forward to perform live, we are looking for opportunities, but several obstacles we find such incomplete line up, and this is the biggest one, to play live we need permanent members or at least secessionists which they are unavailable in Saudi Arabia, traveling abroad not easy for some of us due to work and other things. However, we working on finding ways to solve this matter, maybe someday, we leave the country if things don’t work.
13. Have you started composing or recording material for a future release? How will it sound and what the topic that you are going write about will be?
Mephisto: Yes, Our new EP is going to be released in January 2013. Afterward, we will be working on the fourth full length album.The EP is a re-mastered record of a collection of AlNamrood old tracks. It will be released in special boxset in limited quanity. We didn’t yet determine the theme for the next LP.
14. Would you like to sum up your near future plans and if you want, add something for a conclusion?
Mephisto: Thank you for your interview, we appreciate your overlook on AlNamrood, our future plans will continue as releasing outstanding songs that add something unique to the metal scene. We are going work with other musician to find opportunities to play live in Europe or North/South America.