The Middle East is a place of great turmoil, yet even amongst all that the awesomeness of metal still prevails! We’ve been treated to more recent acts like Azoom and Al-Namrood in the expanse of death and black metal, but Arallu has been a veteran of Middle Eastern metal for a whole 20 years now! That’s nothing to scoff at, and I was fortunate enough to ask them some questions as to what makes a band like this tick, and how they manage to continue despite the turmoil of their home turf.
Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions that I’ve made in order to get a peek into such a unique band. I really do appreciate it and I’m very curious to see what I and the rest of the world can glean from me picking at your brain.
Hello Head Banger magazine and thank u for this interview. I’m Butchered, the main member of Arallu.
- The countries that belong to the Middle East have never really been considered “hot spots” for metal music, yet Arallu comes from Israel which is heavily tied to religious influence in so many ways. Does being a black metal band give you any sort of negative reputation from your country?
B: when I started playing black metal in the 90’s it was sort of negative, metal music was considered a bad thing and in Israel, we have places of the 3 main religions and it really scared some of the people, but today with media and internet it’s different.
- Bands like Al-Namrood and Azooma both come from the Middle East like Arallu, and they continue to entrance people with their special blends of metal. Have you ever reached out to any of these other groups who know what it’s like to come from a region of the world that’s scarce for metal?
B: Every album by the band we used other Middle Eastern Instruments except the Drabukka that we have on every album because it’s a basic instrument of Arallu music. I believe in the next album we will be looking for other instruments. We don’t want our listeners to feel like every album of Arallu is the same. We’re trying to give the listeners the feeling of the desert force and battles around the Middle East. Like Nile, the metal music of Namrood and Azooma is different from Arallu, we taking a distance from other European bands and middle eastern bands as well. The Middle Eastern music is my childhood home music. My father was listening to this music since I was a child. The combination between the European sound and the Middle Eastern sound is not easy to do. Not every part of every song you can add the Saz Drabukka or Sitar-like in the previous albums. It takes hours to add these instruments in the right way and right place, but we will do it and work hard for that to bring a new sound to the global metal scene. Not everyone understands what we’re playing. Like you can see some reviews are good and some are not good when you play risky music you know that can happen. We are not going with the mainstream of black metal music, and that’s ok with us.
- Implementing traditional Middle Eastern instruments into metal is a truly novel idea that’s been done all around the world with various other traditional takes, much like your label mates out of Singapore, Rudra. What inspired you guys to take such an approach to metal?
B: When I started to listen to the European black metal bands of the 90’s, I really liked the idea of the local folk music inside the raw sound of the black metal. I thought to myself “I can’t play like that. I can’t write music like that. I can feel the cold and mountains coming out from the speakers! This music is awesome! And, if I will try to sound like that no one will listen to my music. I can’t make a sound like that. BUT if I will bring special sounds of my country and guitar riffs with special instruments I can flow above them, if I will play middle eastern music with metal music sound it can work!” And that’s what happened.
- It’s not very often for a band to stay around for almost 20 whole years and continue to churn out material consistently whether it’s a full-length or an EP. How do you guys continue to find new material to present to listeners new and old?
B: When you like what you do 20 years go fast, man. We truly believe in our special sound and that’s why we released 6 different albums and I believe our next album will be unique and special like the others.
- What are some influences that really inspired you guys to try your hand at metal? Being such a specific style, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of different styles that all had a part to play in your journey as a band.
B: We live in the Middle East as you know, the situation here is not easy. Here in Jerusalem and Israel. We live in days of war religions and religious hatred that inspired our music and lyrics. The concept of Arallu is around the ultimate war over the Middle East because we’re living it. So I believe it’s coming naturally even if we will try to ignore it. Arallu is NOT a political band. Arallu is a radical band in the music and the lyrics. We do not hate anyone or anybody because of his skin color or his religion. Our lyrics are clear! We rise against what is offensive and hurting us. Us as human beings, us as individuals. The people in Israel don’t know what good life is. We are busy with worrying about personal and national security. Our lyrics are straight in your face, against the religions and what they represent and of course the people behind them. Our lyrics talk about all those things. From the wars of the ancient times as kings tried to rule Jerusalem, to the wars of today as ISIS is trying to destroy and kill anyone who doesn’t agree with their religious views. This album is the mirror of the human race, hypocrisy of the governments all around the world including Israel, and the unwillingness and fear to fight against the extreme religious leaders. Arallu is the horn of the situation in the Middle East and especially the horn of the wars all around the years in Jerusalem. We don’t look for paper news Headlines. We play and live black metal from the 90’s. I saw so many death and blood over my life, so I’m really not afraid of Islamic groups because of my music. I remember the bus exploding next to me around the streets of Jerusalem when I was on my way to school. We saw every day the hatred comes through the TV news. I was 16 years old and the extreme black metal concept around Europe comes to my life mixed with bloodshed around Jerusalem is what brought Arallu band to life. I saw so many death and blood over my life, so I’m really not afraid of Islamic groups because of my music.
It’s more than a decade that Arallu screaming about the global terror. “Satanic War In Jerusalem”, our second album from 2002, talking about the situation in Jerusalem that spread to the world. I wrote this album in 2001 when the Islamic terror attack everywhere in Israel and especially in Jerusalem. Unfortunately “Satanic War In Jerusalem become a self-fulfilling prophecy and today we all know it. “The War On The Wailing Wall”, our debut album from 1999, was the mix between our daily life and extreme black metal against religions.
- Let’s look to the future for just a moment. With six full-length albums under your belt, what do you plan to do now that you’ve released “Six” – which is a slow grower on me despite my initial impression. The more I go back the more things I find that I enjoy.
B: “SIX” like the previous albums of the band is talking about the situation around the Middle East as it crawls to Europe and the US, and some personal issues we deal with our everyday life. Every album by the band we used other Middle Eastern Instruments except the Drabukka that we have on every album because it’s a basic instrument of Arallu music. I believe in the next album we will be looking for other instruments. We don’t want our listeners to feel like every album of Arallu is the same. We’re trying our best to not repeat ourselves, so every album we’re using different Middle Eastern instruments. Even in the lyrics. The song “Adonay” is talking about a simple man from Jerusalem killed by a terrorist attack and left behind him a huge world of people who loved him, but actually, this song was talking about the last days of my grandfather who really suffered before he died a few months ago… He was my model and I really admired him. The song “Possessed by Sleep” is about the murder of a little girl named Hillel Yaffe Ariel who was killed in her bed by a terrorist while she was sleeping. When you live in Jerusalem and you have 3 children all you’re thinking about is how to keep them safe in this horrible world. From the other aspect, we have the song “Soulless Soldier” which is about a soldier in the army service who fights the wars around Israel and when he killed a terrorist who tried to kill soldiers the government put him to trail for that. It’s absurd. When I’m writing my music and my lyrics I’m not looking for some victories. I mean I’m looking for something fresh, something that no one touched before. Because our music is a mix of extreme black metal music and Arabian / Middle Eastern music. It’s very hard to understand it in the first listening. Usually, people who like extreme black metal don’t like the Middle Eastern parts and vice versa, when we wrote this album we knew its risky and we knew it from the debut album from 1999, but Arallu always looks to bring something different to the global metal scene and we’re doing it in small steps. The atmosphere of this album is similar to the old albums. Our lyrics are straight in your face, against the religions and what they represent and of course the people behind them. Our last album, “GENIEWAR”, and “SATANIC WAR IN JERUSALEM” talk about all those things. From the wars of the ancient times as kings tried to rule Jerusalem. With that, “SIX” is talking about the wars of today as ISIS is trying to destroy and kill anyone who doesn’t agree with their religious views. Like in the song “Only One Truth”. Arallu concept is the mirror of the human race, hypocrisy of the governments all around the world including Israel, and the unwillingness and fear to fight against the extreme religious leaders. We live in the Middle East as you know. The situation here is not easy here in Jerusalem and Israel. We live in days of war religions, and religious hatred that inspired our music and lyrics.
- Speaking of “Six”, can you say that you and the rest of Arallu are pretty happy with how the record would’ve turned out? Would you have preferred to make things little more melodic, somewhat rawer, more or less traditional instruments, or would you change nothing?
B: Before we entered the studio to record this album we worked with Dory Bar or who made the mixing for our last album “GENIEWAR” and the pre-production of “SIX”. He knew what sound we were looking for. This guy is a real professional and knows how to take Arallu music from the stage into the speakers. We worked hard for this sound. Something like 7-8 of the final version of mixing. We don’t like the new sound of the metal bands around the world. We like to make our instruments clear but raw. Evil. War machine. We’re trying to let our music sound live Even though it is recorded in the studio. We are really happy with the results. It’s really what we were looking for. I think the sound and the melodies of the album it’s the best we can bring to this album. Like you can check every each album we bring something different. We learn from album to album. For this moment, I will change nothing on this album, but I’m sure for the next album more ideas will come naturally.
- Despite your region of the world, would you ever try to tour? Or have you already? I’d be very interested to see how that would happen in an environment where metal isn’t exactly the most popular thing.
B: We came back last April of 2017 from our last tour around the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Germany, before that we played in Metal Gate death fest in the Czech Republic, we played in Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, Turkey and others countries. We really love to perform and we perform every place that people will want us to play! I really hope someday to come play for u as well
- Have you ever wanted to try and branch out by performing different styles? Or maybe even try incorporating different styles into Arallu to spice things up a bit?
B: No. There are better bands than us who do it. We’re doing what we really like and what we’re are good at. I really don’t understand bands from the east that play European black metal and the opposite.
Thanks again so much for responding my “great” questions and taking the time to do so, I truly do appreciate it! I hope all goes well with Arallu in the future and here’s to much more records to come in the future!
B: Thank you very much for your greeting and for your great interview! I really hope to come play someday for our fans in your great land!
Thanks so much to Butchered for offering his insight into Arallu with some very powerful words that I honestly wasn’t expecting. It’s adding another layer of depth to this intriguing band, and I can happily say that it’s going to make me marathon every Arallu album I can get my hands on tomorrow. The bands latest album, “Six”, is a very volatile album that gets better with each listen and you can really feel the classy musicianship in every single song. With more metal than folk infusion, Arallu punches you right in the fucking jaw right before bringing you back up with the amazing rhythms that are crafted. Arallu has a great sound that can produce plenty of excellent material and choosing to ignore that is a bad idea in every regard.
LISTEN to “Six” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Arallu on Facebook here.