Album Review – Sijjeel / Salvation Within Insanity (2022)

From the morbid purgatory that lies between the edge of sanity and the shores of madness comes a vicious Death Metal entity bringing forth disease, destruction and death.

From the morbid purgatory that lies between the edge of sanity and the shores of madness comes the furious, brutal Death Metal of a vicious entity known as Sijjeel. Hatched in the desert sands of Saudi Arabia nearly a decade ago, more specifically in 2013 in the city of Damman, the capital of the Eastern Province, the eyes of Sijjeel soon turned to Europe to find the warped souls that could complete the three-headed beast, with vocalist Floor Van Kuijk (Carnifloor, Focal Dystonia, Korpse) and bassist Lukas Kaminski (Stillbirth, Placenta Powerfist) being chosen to join guitarist Hussain Akbar and bring forth disease, destruction and death. Mixed and mastered by Floor himself at GLDCHN Studios, and displaying a hellish artwork by Indonesian artist Rudi Gorgingsuicide, the hellbound tour de force of terror Salvation Within Insanity is the first full-length effort by such demented trio, following up on the insanity found in their 2020 debut EP Cyclopean Megaliths and, therefore, being highly recommended for admirers of Defeated Sanity, Incinerate and Twitch Of The Death Nerve, among other bands that worship brutality above all things in heavy music.

The thunderous, menacing bass by Lukas will hammer your head mercilessly in the opening track Isolation Behind Unrealism, bringing forward pure, unfiltered Death Metal for lovers of the genre, with Floor barking rabidly amidst the band’s sonic devastation, whereas Inverted Contentment in Salvation is a beyond infernal display of the band’s ruthless aggression in the form of Death Metal, with Hussain firing razor-edged riffs from his axe while the programmed (but very organic) drums sound like a stone crusher. There’s not a single second of peace as those metallers keep pulverizing our ears in The Affliction of Deteriorating Minds, another solid display of Brutal Slammin’ Death Metal by the trio spearheaded by the sick guttural by Floor; and get ready to be smashed like an insect by the bludgeoning riffs and drums by Hussain in Mental Paralysis, also showcasing tons of progressiveness and groove flowing from Lukas’ demented bass jabs.

The trio continues to crush our senses in Climbing Into the Abyss, exhaling brutality, rage and speed, with Hussain once again displaying a spot-on job done on the guitar, and the music gets darker and more infernal as time goes by ending in a thrilling manner. Then they show no mercy for our souls with the fulminating Departing from Human Nature, where we’re treated to the demented beats by Lukas while Floor roars deeply nonstop, resulting in the epitome of the band’s brutality and gore; and their second to last explosion of vile Death Metal, entitled Indignation Overcame Me, brings forward endless savagery thanks to the infernal riffage by Hussain, smashing their sonic weapons like true beasts in the name of extreme music. Lastly, intricate, Stygian sounds ignite the closing hurricane Inflection to Thee Smut, offering us all another very good reason to slam into the circle pit, with Floor’s inhumane growls walking hand in hand with the blast beats by Lukas.

You can get to know more about Sijjeel, their tour dates, plans for the future and so on on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course in order to support the underground you should definitely purchase a copy of Salvation Within Insanity from Comatose Music’s BandCamp page or webstore. Relentless and absolutely punishing from start to finish, Salvation Within Insanity is indeed a fantastic display of Extreme Metal made in Saudi Arabia, proving once and for all our beloved metal music knows no barriers, inviting people from all over the world to slam into the pit and to raise our horns to bands like Sijjeel forever and ever. That’s how Death Metal is supposed to be, and if the band keeps firing albums like Salvation Within Insanity in the coming years such intense genre will get even stronger than what it already is.

Best moments of the album: Inverted Contentment in Salvation, Mental Paralysis and Departing from Human Nature.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Comatose Music

Track listing
1. Isolation Behind Unrealism 4:31
2. Inverted Contentment in Salvation 3:14
3. The Affliction of Deteriorating Minds 3:49
4. Mental Paralysis 4:04
5. Climbing Into the Abyss 4:33
6. Departing from Human Nature 3:25
7. Indignation Overcame Me 4:18
8. Inflection to Thee Smut 6:04

Band members
Floor Van Kuijk – vocals
Hussain Akbar – guitar, drum programming
Lukas Kaminski – bass

Album Review – Al-Namrood / Enkar (2017)

Unafraid of exercising their freedom of speech in their homeland, three dauntless Saudi black metallers keep fighting against tyranny, oppression and authoritarianism with their brand new, distinct and acid album.

Forged in 2008 in the fires of Dammam, the capital city of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and the sixth largest city in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and Taif, Black/Folk Metal trinity Al-Namrood is another one of those cases where no matter how talented and bright the band members are, the religious and political leaders of their homeland will do whatever it takes to end their career (not to say something even harsher than that), restricting their reach and forcing them to remain anonymous to stay alive (as you can read in an excellent and very detailed article titled “Witch Hunts, Resurgence and Defiance: Heavy Metal In The Middle East”, published by an online publication named The Quietus). However, the only Black Metal band in Saudi Arabia doesn’t seem to be scared to exercise their freedom of speech with their brand new album Enkar, where once again Al-Namrood translates into first-class metal music their austere position against their own country’s authoritarian regime.

Al-Namrood (or (النمرود‎ in Arabic) means “Nimrod” (which translates to “the non believer”), a Babylonian king who ruled the world maliciously and stated “I am the God of all creation”, and the group chose the name as their form of defiance against religion. After the successful release of their 2010 album Estorat Taghoot, the band decided to shift their focus away from the ancient Babylon land to a hub with deeper Arabian aspect, pronouncing the utter darkness of the Arabian Peninsula and therefore playing what can be called “Arabian Occult Metal”. If you love Black Metal in the vein of bands like Marduk, Darkthrone and Bathory mixed with the most obscure and anti-religious aspects of the music by Candlemass, Black Sabbath and Kreator, all embraced by the unique tones and sounds from the Middle-Eastern culture, then you must take a listen at Enkar as soon as possible, as this album might change considerably your view of underground Extreme Metal.

And those sounds from the Middle-East are joined by metallic lines to form a unique musicality led by the enraged and sick vocals by Humbaba in the opening track, titled Nabth, a feast of eccentricity and sheer madness, with the guitars by Mephisto sounding truly mesmerizing. In addition, the song’s official video, with its images of protests, riots and police brutality from across the Middle-East, match perfectly with the music played by Al-Namrood. Enhancing the lunacy flowing from the guitars, the band offers us Halak, a great display of Orient Metal tailored for banging our heads and prancing together with the band, with highlights to the electrified beats by Ostron; followed by Xenophobia, another acid creation by Al-Namrood that deals with an extremely controversial topic, with Humbaba firing some truly demented vociferations from start to finish to make the final result even more impactful.

Estibdad brings forward a kick-ass hybrid of Folk and Orient Metal where all band members are on fire, in special Mephisto with his slashing riffs, not to mention you can feel the anger and rage flowing from Humbaba’s desperate growls. Efsad keeps the momentum going with its rhythmic drumming and Middle-Eastern-inspired riffs and bass lines effectively delivered by Mephisto, whereas Estinzaf, perhaps the most Heavy Metal (or I should say Black Metal) of all songs, presents more traditional guitar lines and drums, but of course still bringing the band’s own regional twist. Moreover, Humbaba sounds like a Saudi version of the iconic Mike Patton (Faith No More) during the whole song due to the level of lunacy and the weird noises he produces with his voice, which in the end is a very positive complement to the overall result. And in Ensaf we face a darker sonority that grows in intensity as time goes by, with even the vocal lines by Humbaba sounding more obscure and sharper than before, culminating in a mesmerizing pace with hints of progressiveness and Folk Metal elements to boost its taste.

In Egwaa we’re treated to what’s probably their most primeval mode, a hypnotizing and stylish break from all madness from the rest of the album deeply rooted in their own homeland’s traditions and sounds, with their smooth but at the same time extremely potent percussion stealing the spotlight. Then when it looks like that gentle break will still go on for a while, the band returns with an imposing, epic tune titled Ezdraa, transporting the listener to the darkest side of Saudi Arabia, with Ostron kicking some serious ass with his intricate drumming, before Entiqam, a nice ending to such distinct album, showcases a more-demented-than-ever Humbaba, leading the band’s ominous and classy musicality while the song’s Middle-Eastern elements sound heavier, crisper and more piercing than in all previous tracks.

You can enjoy all the madness, violence and hatred from Enkar by listening to the full album on Spotify, and of course purchase this Saudi gem at the Shaytan Productions’ BandCamp, on iTunes, on Amazon, on CD Baby or at Discogs. Al-Namrood, who can be found on Facebook despite the fact the band members have to remain anonymous, not only continue to pave a fantastic path in underground heavy music with this idiosyncratic album, spreading their music all over the world and always moving forward against all odds, but they also serve as some sort of inspiration for other musicians in Saudi Arabia and from any other countries with very strict laws to keep pursuing their dreams and to keep fighting against tyranny, oppression and authoritarianism, all in the name of freedom and metal.

Best moments of the album: Nabth, Estibdad and Ensaf.

Worst moments of the album: Estinzaf.

Released in 2017 Shaytan Productions

Track listing
1. Nabth 3:55
2. Halak 3:17
3. Xenophobia 4:24
4. Estibdad 3:23
5. Efsad 3:03
6. Estinzaf 3:17
7. Ensaf 4:28
8. Egwaa 4:02
9. Ezdraa 4:24
10. Entiqam 5:18

Band members
Humbaba – vocals
Mephisto – guitars, bass, percussion
Ostron – keyboards, percussion