Al-Namrood (Arabic: النمرود) is a Saudi Arabian black metal band. The name means “Nimrod”, a Babylonian king, and the group chose the name as a form of defiance against religion. The members are anonymous since their identification could lead to punishment of death from Saudi Arabian authorities.
Al-Namrood has released numerous albums and singles since it began in 2008. The band has also released three music videos and is currently signed to Shaytan Productions (Canada). With the occasion of their new release ’Worship The Degenerate’, we have decided to interview them.
To begin, you guys are from Saudi Arabia. Would you say that there’s a growing death metal scene there? And would you say Al-Namrood is leading the charge?
We would not say there is a growing death metal scene, we would say there is sport washing like a theme in relation to music, as such there are efforts to polish reputation from the surface, but the core remains the same.
How is your life reflecting on your work?
There are separated, we shield our music from our daily life from the outside we are regular ordinary people.
I feel like ’Worship The Degenerate’ is the heaviest record you have done, threading the line of beauty and brutality I love about Al-Namrood. How would you say your new record compares to its predecessors?
It is indeed different, for this album we wanted to emphasize the level of intensity, harsh vocals, and powerful output, to project our concept, and also we benefit from the modern technology to design a more defined knife cutting sound which is what we always aimed for.
The title itself is quite illustrative. “Worship The Degenerate” continues your crusade against dogma, with some newfound war cries added into the mix. What message do you want to convey?
Conceptionally, the album takes the story further from ‘Wala’at‘ (which translates to loyalties) album and continue on addressing the issues of consent slavery and taking a proactive role to explore the option of change, however, we also covered the part where the enslaved is satisfied with the situation and no change needed, so here the most crucial part was the free will, which put the choice in the hand of the people.
Given how terrifying and fantasizing ’Worship The Degenerate’ is, please walk me through your process and influences for conjuring up such themes and songwriting?
In each album, we write a concept story for it, a centric idea that the album aimed for. ‘Worship The Degenerate‘ takes more active direction from the philosophical and social analysis from ‘Wala’at‘ album, through the action of attempting to change the situation, the story this time is about exposing those who are loyal to as degenerate and the loyalty upgraded to worshiping. The album starts with the song “Protector of the herd” which discusses the idea of protection and a more powerful symbol is needed.
Then it progresses into the actual fight to change this conception and erase it, the aim for the sun of freedom and the free will of the people. The album here puts the decision into people’s hands and their free will chooses their direction of life. As we always illustrated accepting slavery is a choice.
Was it hard to find members to join the band, considering Saudi Arabia’s status on death metal music?
Absolutely it is hard, it is actually near impossible. However, there are many people who listen to extreme metal, but are they fit for the concept we work for? For us it is important to match our goals together otherwise, what is the point of making music? It is never entertainment for us.
How would you say the band has changed over the course of its career?
Music production obviously improved, knowledge curve improved, it is easier now for us to create a song, writing became easier as we grow an experience. Our vision and mission remain the same.
When listeners make their way through your songs, what do you want to feel? What kind of situation do you see your music accompanying?
We want to take the listener to our version of dystopia, to witness this part of the world that we exist in on our own terms, we use music to deliver the voiceless message of freedom fight and individual right to live the life they always deserve. Our other message does not take freedom for granted, preserve individual rights as much as possible, others rights are also your rights, we all live in this world which cannot be possibly apart.
Take me through your sound design process. Is this a quick process, or something you might obsess over and re-visit?
I think yes it is sort of an obsession, as noted in each album the sound differs. In each album, we try something new, particularly for guitar sound, for example, in the album (diaji Al Joor) we used the classical off-axis method of capturing the amp sound, with no effect loop in the process. This was not the case with ‘enkar’ album as we benefited tube amp and open-back cabinet to create more airy sound guitar, also we took a further step to get mastering service at endarker studio as we experimented with sound production.
‘Wala’at’ guitar was created through a cabinet simulator and load box rather than an actual mic and cabinet. In worship the degenerate we ultimately got our hand on kemper profiler, expensive equipment but worth every penny. So at the last album, we created our guitar amp profile from scratch. So yes we enjoy experimenting with sound.
What are your recording studio setups like? What gear is most important to your composing process?
We keep changing, as more ideas come, as mentioned in the previous answer, the guitar takes the most effort for recording, others such as bass and keyboard are recorded through DI, no fancy stuff, but we take our time in guitar, my goal as a guitarist is to create a strong wall of distortion, surrounded the song from the right and left, where the drums, vocal positioned at the center. Not a fan of strong reverbs and delays although we utilized them extensively in the first album now we focus more on the blend and more saturated sound. Recently, we got a kemper profiler which opened a breadth of amps profiles. For guitar, my standard gear must be equipped with EMG 81. I use ESP EII MII which is a metal machine. So powerful, the intense sound is always the aim.
What is the projection you expect with this album?
The same as we always expect, to express our thoughts, deliver a piece of metal sound and produce a thought in the form of music.
What do Al-Namrood’s future plans look like?
I think continuing what we do is always on the track, what future will bear for us, I do not know, maybe one day we play live or we stay as a studio band, whether this happens or not, Al-Namrood has its goal to exist a voice for the voiceless through extreme music and sending out a message to all freedom fighters around the world that you are not alone, if you can not speak up, use art as a tool, remain safe but make your point, collaborate to what you can do and this is what we strive for.