This brew of Middle Eastern strains and blackened death metal points to Arallu of Israel. And although of different roots from the Vedic metal band Rudra, which is how I originally got to know about them, there are stylistic similarities. “En Olam” is the band’s seventh album of so-called war metal over a span of more than 20 years.

The album starts, continues and ends with intensity. The vocalist seems to be preaching catastrophe. We are put on a war footing from the beginning. It may be a lapse in memory on my part but there is more of the traditional instrumentation in play – the saz, oud, kanoon, drabukka and toms to name but five – on this album. This adds flavour of course but it’s blended into the harsh metal, provoking a sophisticated mix. “Devil’s Child” is the template track – fast, furious and fiery. The field of play lies somewhere between battle and destruction. The traditional instruments supply despair and melancholy in between the ferocious assault. This is a band which has supported Behemoth. Musically I find Arallu cleaner than Behemoth. The similarity lies in the dark, belligerent and swirling atmospheres.

The album progresses in the same vein, save for a howled spoken section in “Guard of She’ol”, which summons up the spirits of war and images of a harsh Middle Eastern winter. I guess if I’m asking myself whether it’s epic, it isn’t. It is intense though. And “Vortex of Emotions” starts off with Burzumesque menace. It differs in style from the others, featuring a doomy funereal march as its mainstay. After the statutory ethnic track, “Prophet’s Path” takes us down the dark route once more. Fiery black metal sits in a Middle Eastern setting, of which we are constantly reminded. That covers all the tracks on this album other than “Vortex of Emotions” and the short ethnic instrumental “Achrit Ya Hamim”.

I struggled to be inspired by “En Olam”. Arallu make all the right moves, generating whirlwinds of darkness and adding a Middle Eastern flavour to reflect their heritage but essentially it’s a black metal treatise whose aura is clear from the start and doesn’t develop or change very much.

(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)