Chuck Schuldiner Project

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lelahell - Al Insane​.​.​. The (Re​)​Birth of Abderrahman

As a diehard folk metal fan I'm always looking for bands that take a unique or idiosyncratic approach to the style. Though there's nothing wrong with traditional Finnish or Celtic folk metal sounds, the market for such bands has been rather saturated as of late, and often leaves one seeing rather little in the scene that can be categorised as "new". That said, more and more strange folk metal bands are beginning to pop up out of the woodwork across the globe, from the Mongolian folk-music influenced Tengger Cavalry and Nine Treasures, Taiwanese black/folk metallers Chthonic with their beautiful erhu melodies, to American bands like Panopticon who incorporate appalachian folk music. Though not strictly speaking a folk metal band, with their release of "Al Insane​.​.​. The (Re​)​Birth of Abderrahmane" Algeria's Lelahell have knowingly or unknowingly made yet another contribution to the enrichment and development of the genre.

The album begins as one might expect a Turisas or Ensiferum album to, all clattering swords and dramatic monologuing, before giving way to the immediate brutality of " Al Intissar". Though described on their Metal Archives page simply as "death metal" this would be an oversimplification. While their sound is largely rooted around dark heavy death metal riffage and pounding double bass drums, the vocals alternate between low guttural death growls and black metal highs, and the guitar does take on different roles on occasion, as during the full on black metal assault of "Black Hands",  or the folk interlude "Imzad", making the bands classification somewhat more complex.  The musicianship on the album is quite sound, and all members seem to be pulling their weight. While the guitar tone and mixing leave something to be desired in terms of volume and crunch, there are enough savage death metal riffs on here to win over your average Deicide or Cannibal Corpse fan, and also moments of variation to prevent people less inclined towards straight death metal from getting bored, ultimately making it an enjoyable listen to a somewhat wider spectrum of metalheads than if it was truly just death metal.  The eastern folk music influence is evident at various points throughout the album, with lots of harmonic minor and phrygian dominant riffs and melodies to be found by those looking for them, but could stand to be made a bit more blatant and present in the bands sound. 

Ultimately "Al Insane​.​.​. The (Re​)​Birth of Abderrahmane" is an incredibly solid debut album from a potentially fascinating band. While on occasion the riffage seems like slightly stock death metal songwriting, there's enough creativity here to make Lelahell well worth keeping an eye on. With a bit of fine tuning with regards to sound, and perhaps a tad more time given to the folk elements, they should be well on their way to international appeal.

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