Al-Azif - Claiming The Sand Throne
Reviewer: Rak Hiasat - 2012-08-08
Highlights: Al-Hazred , I Shall Prevail
Al-Azif is an Egyptian Melodic Death Metal group that have just released their debut album, "Claiming The Sand Throne". The band was founded in 2009 by Sharif Mafia and Tarek Zakaria with complete member line-up. This release might be a good one within the Middle Eastern network and after a couple of listens. The album is full of melodic aspects and highlights the band's influences (i.e. Arch Enemy Hypocrisy, Opeth, and Insomnium). The only thing I can criticize the band for is their lack of originality.
The show starts with the first track, "Al-Azif”. The album is a relatively brief and simplistic, but that is by no means a disadvantage. The first five minutes collected here, showcase the founding principles of Melodic Death Metal without attempting to show-off or experiment in any way. A couple of the riffs from the lead guitarists was followed by vocals and a great display of keyboards.
"Al-Hazred" is track two, an old-school Death Metal theme reigns over this track with vocals being more serious and start to show up more than before. The drums improve and, finally, the guitar work makes this track a highlight of this release. It's really a complete Death Metal song.
Instrumentally, this album is really good, the main factor that drives me to this conclusion is track three, "He Who Comes In The Dark". Wasting no time, the band sinks right into the Death Metal pit and throws out a ton of impressive lead guitar melodies (the likes of which will become increasingly mundane as the album progresses, simply through overuse). Unlike some Death Metal bands, these songs are mostly based on the traditional formula of verse-chorus-verse but without a guitar solo to interrupt and consume time towards the end.
The collaboration between Middle Eastern bands has rapidly increased, the next track, “I Shall Prevail” featured the harsh vocals of, Fares Swedan (vocalist of the Jordanian Melodic Doom/Death band, Chalice Of Doom). This was probably one of their better songs and toes the line between: pure, Melodic Death Metal, and watered down offerings that would soon clog its output. Although, the Arch Enemy-influenced twin leads' solo fit nicely into the generally slower and more laid-back sound of this one. It’s clear that everyone in the band is enjoying themselves from the audible bass lines, heard often throughout the album but never really standing out.
The last instrumental track is, "A Beacon For The Lost", the guitar riffs have a somewhat heavy sound to them, but the melody overcomes it. With that, it's fair to say that there are a ton of guitar solos and, if you are into that, you'll love this track. The bass guitar had it's moments, but it's not emphasized a whole lot. You can hear it, which gives them brownie points in my book. The bass helps to add a bit of overall heaviness to the music. The drum work is average and fits the music nicely. There's not a whole lot to speculate on concerning the ability of the drummer, which is typical for a Melodic band. They fit the genre well, but as they say: it's not really my cup of tea.