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Knowing full well that if their identities were to be revealed, a prison sentence at the very least, and maybe even death penalty at worst would be the end result, Al-Namrood, the three piece black metal band from Saudi Arabia, have made no concessions. A group of three non-believers in a country governed by religion; artists honing forbidden crafts; black metallers who in the public eye might as well be black sorcerers. The ultimate musical rebels. To find out more about this obscure and mystical band, who defy all social norms in their country of birth, read the short interview below, conducted via e-mail about a week ago. Starting from today, the 28th of August, Sputnik can also host the video premiere for Al-Namrood’s song “Hayat Al Khezea,” which is from their upcoming album Diaji Al Joor, that will be out on November 27th, 2015 via Canadian-based label Shaytan Productions. The music video is the first ever for Al-Namrood.

So is Al-Namrood literally the only band from Saudi Arabia releasing metal music, or are there other really underground groups as well, who are quietly doing similar things to you guys?

There is a lot of talk on this matter, but we don’t notice any real activity from musicians going on here. While it is mentioned on some website that we have over 20 bands in the country, I question how many of them are really active or still exist. This is worth pointing out due to the protocol of local people, who start a metal band, then stop at a certain point for cultural/social/religious reasons or whatever hypocrisy they are into.

From your interview with Vice that you did earlier this year, one extract describes how you smuggled CDs from neighboring countries. Is Western music in general just not for sale in Saudi Arabia, or does prohibition only cover metal?

No, the guys who work in customs have no clue what metal is, so they will judge based on the art on the cover. This also goes for movies, but it will be a clear case when I (try to) get a CD from a band like Marduk (into the country), where there is blood, upside down crosses, corpse paint and nudity. Such items won’t pass if they (customs workers) happen to see it. I remember back in the ‘90s, where there were specific instructions to not let Michael Jackson’s music into the country. In this case it didn’t matter what the cover looked like, but one of my friends got it in by hiding it in a tissue box. Clever wasn’t it?

You also said in that same interview that you intended from the very start for the music to be catchy. Is it the most important thing for you to consider whilst composing your songs, that there’s an element of catchiness to your work?

Of course, we do not want to create boring music or be just another metal band that, as always, has headbanging riffs. Our goal is to create something attentive to musical ears, have Al-Namrood fingerprints on black metal.

How do you find the places to rehearse at?

We don’t, we do it at home. The houses here are built in a way to preserve privacy (for a conservative society, they assert on these specifications), unlike the Western houses. So if you can do it, do it in your home, where there’s isolation.

You’ve made it clear that you detest the Islamic regime, but what do you yourself believe in? I take it that not in any religion, but what is the main thing that you have decided to put your so called faith into? Or are you a rationalist rather, that you believe in what you see?

We do not really know where we can categorize ourselves into, but we are not philosophers or politicians for sure, we are victims of a highly oppressive regime that inflicted us and left us with nothing but neverending rage and grudge. We didn’t choose this path because we overlooked the universal sciences, or read atheism books, or had worthless debates about the existence of god. We chose it due to what we have gone through, what we perceived from it, and what we have rationalized out of it. You can translate these phenomena any way you like.

Black metal as a genre has a lot of occultism in it. Have you, for example, ever written about Melek Taus, or is religion of any kind a topic that you’d rather not associate yourselves with?

No, we do not care about any religions, actually we cannot stand any religion, we are fed up to the point we get sick if we hear this word.

What is the everyday experience of being an anti-Islamist living in Saudi Arabia like for you, outside of work hours? Do you have a close group of people around you who share the same views, or are you rather forced to often put on a fake smile and nod in agreement just so you wouldn’t get into massive trouble?

No groups that we know of, we are only 3 men who share the same concepts. Although I’m sure there are secret societies with different approaches in this country, but in very small numbers and tough to find, at least in our area.

I bet you’ve thought about leaving Saudi Arabia for some place that accepts you as you are. What has been the force holding you back from making that kind of move?

It is complicated and would need careful planning and very good connections. The authorities can still claim their citizens even outside the borders. One wrong step, and we end up back where we were born, and at that rate, it won’t be close to a safe bet. So we rather deal with this craziness for the time being because we know how to.

What if the unexpected happens and you gain enough notoriety that it becomes much harder than it already is for you to keep your identities hidden, which would make you susceptible towards serious legal action taken against you. Would such an occurrence force you to leave your motherland, or would you rather find a way to deal with it all at the spot?

At that rate, yes (they would have to leave), but we need to keep our heads right, and we know it would be very selfish of us to leave those who we care about behind. But (at the same time) it is the instinct of survival that would drive us so.

How did your partnership with Shaytan Productions, a Canadian music label focused on Middle-Eastern-styled extreme music, develop?

It is a perfect match, the label promotes our music effectively, we wouldn’t be known on this scale if there was no great promotion.

You also have a new album coming out this year via Shaytan, titled Diaji Al Joor. What can we expect from it, compared to earlier efforts by Al-Namrood?

There are some changes; the guitars are heavier and more highlighted than before, Arabian instruments, like the Qanoon, are played differently this time, as we focused on tremolo playing. There is a darker atmosphere, with even greater Arabian feel to it. Overall we think Diaji Al joor is one of our finest works.

You cannot play your music live for the aforementioned reason of unveiling your identities, but if that was an option for you, where would you like to perform the most?

Europe for sure would be our preferred destination, we think that we can collaborate and bond with the European society the best. Not to forget that Europe is the most history-filled land in the world, where the most religious conflicts, human development, and transformation of civilization started from.

What would be your end goal with Al-Namrood? What is the one thing that you would one day want to look back on and say “I did it”?

Certainly being a globally known band that can tour the world freely & without restrictions. I live to see that day, even if it takes decades.

More info about AL-Namrood:
Shaytan Productions
Vice interview

“Hayat Al Khezea”:

awesome article... thanks to whatever staff member put this together. crazy interesting to see something like music create such waves in other countries

Sup Brandon, I'm still quietly breathing!

Really great interview. These guys slay, and that new song was pretty solid, I'll keep my ear to the ground for their next album. May even review it if you didn't already have dibs

Thanks man, and sure, go for it, I could even snag you a promo if you really want to review the upcoming album. I'm currently more into interviews and shorter blurbs, not actual in-depth reviewing, anyway.

Whoa, that's something you could make happen? I would absolutely love that, the release date isn't until late November right? It'd take me a week or two after getting it to write the review because of uni commitments for the next couple of months, but if the band would like a little extra exposure, I'd be stoked.

Ok cool, I'll ask and let you know as soon as I have heard back.

The song is in...Arabic? Seems like it is (I'm having trouble making out the words).

Indeed it is Irv.

For Fuck sakes. 7 account registrations, emails and passwords later, I can finally say Fuck this site. I was simply trying to comment on an archspire review. Kept getting spam and ads that kept me from even TRYING to register an account here. Fuck this crap.

^Get adblock you moron.

Great article, not my kind of band, but interesting read nonetheless.

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