El-Ahrairah
El-Ahrairah


4.5
superb

Review

by Gameofmetal EMERITUS
August 3rd, 2016 | 50 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Experimental black metal with a fetish for the paranormal.

In an interview with Decibel Magazine, El-Ahrairah guitarist, vocalist, and underground USBM mastermind Travis Nordahl had this to say in regards to the lyrical themes and concepts of the band’s new self-titled record, “Each track on this album has a location that holds significance in my life and was inspired by paranormal experiences. Seeing headlights blazing through motel curtains in a dream state, the feeling of my tongue swollen with fear from an unseen presence behind me, the sight of four men dressed head-to-toe in grey cloth standing motionless in a field surrounded by hundreds of crows.” The occasional pessimist in me immediately wrote Nordahl off a bit reading that. I’m not a believer in the paranormal. I like my ghosts in ghost movies, not in reality. But at that time I hadn’t even experienced his music yet, this was just a touch of preparatory research before tackling the debut opus I’d heard a few whisperings about. Neither did this dissuade me in any way, it’s just not reasonable to write off music by the personality of the creator. In a way, Nordahl’s “out-there” imaginings make El-Ahrairah all the more intriguing. The lyrics are often sparse, set on painting vivid, ambiguous imagery and then leaving it there for the listener to digest. Nordahl seems to understand that the mystery is the most drawing aspect here, and he handles it with aplomb. Particularly, “They Wore The Wind” is a frighteningly veiled thing that doesn’t really go anywhere, but sends a shiver up your spine all the same. Most of these songs feature captivating stories and obscure dream sequences that we can thank Nordahl for being “out-there” enough to toss in, even if I still think he’s a little nutty. But it’s worth it.

For all my talk about Nordahl’s lyrical input, it’s the music on El-Ahrairah that does most of the talking. It may be the band’s first full length, but these guys are far from being fresh blood in black metal. El-Ahrairah was preceded by a slew of demos from as far back as 2009, and it plays out with the touch of veterans. There’s a fluidity here, one that’s necessary to tie the disparate elements here together. It’s effortless how both noisy, crashing soundscapes and a blackgaze slant on melody is fused, all the while shifting through so many phases that the only tag that can stick is “experimental”. One moment, particularly in the album’s early reaches, the guitars will be grinding monstrosities under the howling vocals, and the next they can deliver hypnotic passages reminiscent of Ash Borer. “Gates of Dawn” features strangely upbeat and rousing drumming that could fit in with old school country or folk, but drives distorted riffs and blackened screaming instead. And it works. There’s nothing here that feels like it doesn’t belong; anything new is just another trick Nordahl and company can pull out without issue. While the music is exceptional and the lyrics intriguing, it’s important that they complement each other, something else El-Ahrairah has covered. Case in point, booming background percussion that somehow seems both within the mix and separate from it on “Stone Throwers” magically emulates the title characters, sounding eerily like the crash of the stones they throw.

I could keep going with the good choices taken on El-Ahrairah (like the fact that it’s intensely concise for its style...sorry, couldn’t resist tossing one more in there), but I’m just beating a dead horse. There’s simply little to nothing wrong with El-Ahrairah, it’s a momentously creative and unceasingly engaging slab of experimental black metal that was far, far too long in the making.




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user ratings (24)
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
zaruyache (2.5)
El-Ahrairah’s debut is an exercise in repetitive songwriting, but unfortunately not much more....

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El-Ahrairah 2009 Demo

Comments:Add a Comment 
Gameofmetal
Emeritus
August 3rd 2016


10776 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

gonna be pretty high in my end of year list guaranteed



stream: https://el-ahrairah.bandcamp.com/album/el-ahrairah-2



interview quoted: http://decibelmagazine.com/blog/2016/5/17/tracking-down

zaruyache
August 3rd 2016


22578 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

a lot of these tracks seem to take one idea and just build on it for four minutes, which is nice in theory, but gets old pretty quickly considering they're way too short (imo) and don't actually build up to much. They build on one or two riffs played over and over for four minutes then either fade out or end suddenly, then do it all again for another eight tracks.

brainmelter
August 3rd 2016


7082 Comments


niooce, will definitely give this a listen.

Digging: Akron/Family - Akron/Family

Gameofmetal
Emeritus
August 3rd 2016


10776 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

zaru rate something outside the range of 2.5 to 3.5 u scrub i dare you



p.s. don't rate this a 1 ok plz bb

Sevengill
August 3rd 2016


9632 Comments


will I love this
like, aside from it being (I assume) named from my favorite novel

Digging: Paysage d'Hiver - Im Wald

Gameofmetal
Emeritus
August 3rd 2016


10776 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

if you're not a scrub then yea

Sevengill
August 3rd 2016


9632 Comments


well shit, guess I'm out of luck

Gameofmetal
Emeritus
August 3rd 2016


10776 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

plot twist im a ghost

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2016


4153 Comments


Really nice review, nailed the conversational tone. Will check this out, looks interesting.

Also don't you be going 'round calling people scrubs, scrub.

Flugmorph
August 3rd 2016


22834 Comments


gonna check [2]

Gameofmetal
Emeritus
August 3rd 2016


10776 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thx jac, i was hoping i could pull it off here, wasn't sure if i was overreaching or not with the way i wrote this

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2016


11774 Comments


Excellent review

Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2016


25827 Comments


pretty cool concept (and review)

Digging: Paysage d'Hiver - Im Wald

50iL
August 3rd 2016


5381 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing album. Relistened today and it's a confirmed hard 5.

Their 2009 EP is also insane. Ill probably end up 5'ing it too.

Digging: Morton Feldman - String Quartet No. 2

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2016


26763 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Really good review, and glad this finally got one. Didn't get to read that Decibel segment about them but now I'll have to look it up. Thinking about maybe still writing something for this, I had a few different things I wanted to say than you did here.

Digging: Axis of Light - Axis of Light

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2016


11774 Comments


Do it spirit

Sevengill
August 3rd 2016


9632 Comments


If the Tharpedo 4.5's it, that's all the incentive I need.

Flugmorph
August 3rd 2016


22834 Comments


brandon knows aswell

zaruyache
August 3rd 2016


22578 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Scrublord Zaru reporting

rufinthefury
August 3rd 2016


3127 Comments


HOLY SHIT THIS FINALLY GOT A REVIEW THANK YOU SO MUCH
Watership Down is my fav book ever. this band makes some goody good bm.



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