web analytics

Mideast Tunes

Dissecting Thamud



Originally posted here and Blood or Love by Sarah E.


Music can be as much an outlet for self-expression as it can be a tool to communicate with others. There is a pervasive theme with black metal bands, no matter the country, that accomplishes neither of the aforementioned goals. Most are too obsessed with the public persona of Satanism and the need to seem as evil as possible. It is rare to find bands that use the genre as a means of true personal expression. Luckily, I stumbled upon a band from the United Arab Emirates that does just that. Thamud, ironically a one-man band named after an ancient race of people in Arabia, is a project created purely as a means of self-expression. It was the manifestation of a man’s desire to reach out to anyone that would listen.

The official genre label for Thamud is ambient black metal and the music stays along that path with the exception of the last track on the demo, “Lost Within Mists Of Time.” The last track borders on a classical composition, but stays in-tune with the general feel of the entire demo. It’s hard to put into words, but what I sense from this project is eerie melancholy. “Lost Within Mists OF Time” is the star of this demo, it bleeds emotion in the rawest sense and transports me to a snow laden Lincoln Park (Jersey City, NJ – look it up, it’s a dismal place on it’s best day) sitting on a bench overlooking the polluted man-made lake. I used to go there to escape the chaos of family life and just reflected on things. That time of my life is what this track brings back to me. It is very rare when a song that I have no history with brings nostalgia of that kind.

The secondary focus of this project is the fourth track, “Al Hajaj Ibn Yousif Al Thaqafey.” What makes this so addictive, because that’s what it is, is the absolutely amazing sound sample used to break up the song. It’s a speech from an ancient religious figure, Al Hajaj Ibn Yusuf, that was featured in an Arabic TV show. The man’s exudes strength and confidence which combine to give way to a certain charisma that translates well in his voice. The speech is the backbone of this song and it’s a little unfortunate for non-Arabic speakers that the language barrier exists. Though what he is saying really isn’t of much importance as much as the authority that he gives off, the words do add an extra punch to the song. A rough translation of the last bit of the speech before the music cuts in:

"I have two swords, the sword of mercy and the sword of torture and judgment. For the sword of mercy, it has fallen from me along the path so I left it. And the sword of torture and judgment, for this is it.. -sound of a sword being unsheathed can be heard-"

Musically, the song has a groove to it that is refreshing despite the general absence of bass guitar in the entire demo.

The demo is sparse vocally with growls making an appearance in tracks 2 and 3 only. They add a more aggressive element beyond the music itself which gives a hard edge to the aforementioned theme of melancholy of each song.

This review was a little personal so it took some time to write, but I hope I was able to translate it into words well enough for you, the readers. You can download it here.