Rage and Frustration
Heavy Metal Reviews & Interviews
Band – Arallu
Location – Jerusalem
Genre – Black/Folk Metal
Label – Transcending Obscurity Records
Interviewer – Hayduke X
I appreciate your willingness to take some time to answer questions. Here they are.
Hayduke X: Arallu has been around much longer than I realized. Take us back to 1997. What was your inspiration to start this project?
Butchered: Hello and thank you for this interview. I’m Butchered the main member of the band. Arallu was founded in Jerusalem in the middle of the conflict between the religions around the old city in the 90’s. When you live with the terror surrounding you, and you grow up in this endless conflict, if you want or not, it inspires whatever you do. I remember the bus exploding next to me when I was on my way to school. We saw every day the hatred come through the TV news. I was 16 years old and the extreme black metal concept around Europe came to my life mixed with bloodshed around Jerusalem. This is what brought Arallu to life. When I started listening 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 the mountains coming out from the speakers! If I try to sound like that no one will listen to my music. I can’t make it sound like that. BUT if I bring a special sound and guitar riffs with special instruments combined with them.” And that’s what happened.
HX: How has the band evolved since those early days, both in sound and in lineup?
B: For the two first albums, “The War on the Wailing Wall” from 1999 and “Satanic War in Jerusalem” from 2002, I played and recorded all instruments except the drums which were recorded by a session drummer. In 2004, Yonatan was the first official drummer of the band and guitar players have changed couple of times. But today, I think Arallu has the best lineup, including Gal “Pixel” and Omri Yagen on the guitars, Assaf Kassimov our great drummer and Eylon Bart who plays the Darbukka and Saz for our new album. I’m the main idea behind Arallu and writing the riffs, but I play only the bass guitar and the music we are creating together.
HX: I was reading on your Facebook page about your brother being kidnapped. That’s crazy! I’m glad you were able to get him back. Can you tell us more about that story?
B: Yaehhh, those were really bad days … my brother flew to South America to travel around with his friends in September 2003. Like others, he heard about “The Lost City” in the Sierra Nevada forest in Colombia. He didn’t know the activity of the guerilla organization around there. On the second night, he and his friends were kidnapped by the E.L.N. guerilla organization for three months. When I started to research about the situation in Colombia, I understood by stories from the past and other situations over there, that getting my brother released from the E.L.N. is absolutely impossible. So, I flew to Colombia and slowly, slowly I began to connect people and local groups who helped me to contact the E.L.N. and release my brother and his friends. I summarized it in a few sentences, but it was really hard and exhausting with many ups and downs. This story has reshaped my life.
HX: You have played with Mayhem, Behemoth, Marduk, and Enslaved. Tell me about those experiences?
B: The bands you’ve mentioned are really professional bands. These are bands I grew up with in the 90’s black metal wave. It was a really great experience to play with them and watch them live. But more, it was great to see them from the stage that our music is really interesting them and they come out from the back stage to look at our show.
HX: What is Arallu all about? What types of things do you sing about?
B: We live in days of religious wars and religious hatred that inspired our music and lyrics. The concept of Arallu is around the ultimate war over the Middle East, because we are living it. So, I believe it’s comes naturally even if we 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. We as human beings, 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 are trying to destroy and kill anyone who doesn’t agree with their religious views. Arallu tries to be 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 religion leaders. Arallu is the horn of the situation in the Middle East and specially 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 much 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 has been screaming about the global terror. “Satanic War In Jerusalem”, our second album from 2002, talks about the situation in Jerusalem that spread to the world. I wrote this album in 2001 when the Islamic terror attacks were everywhere in Israel, and especially in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, “Satanic War In Jerusalem” became a self-fulfilling prophecy and today we all know it. “The War On The Wailing Wall”, our debut album from 1999, was a mix between our day life and extreme black metal against religions.
HX: Is there any difficulty playing black metal, known for satanic and anti-religious themes, in Jerusalem, known as a holy city?
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 three main religions. It really scared some of the people. But today, with media and internet it’s different.
HX: Six, which I see is your sixth full length, came out in September. How has the reception been so far?
B: Really great and amazing feedback. Many great reviews about the songs and production, many interviews. We can see people really want to connect to the Arallu concept now, and it’s really great. Our old fans are not disappointed and really like this album and we have many new fans, so it’s really great.
HX: What is this album about? How is it an evolution of what the band has done before?
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 in our everyday life. Every album by the band, we used different 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 terrorist attack, who 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 around Jerusalem, and you have three 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. “Oiled Machine Of Hate” is about the never ending bloodshed in Jerusalem and now all around the globe. 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 it was 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 about the wars of today as ISIS are trying to destroy and kill anyone who doesn’t agree with their religious views. Like in the song “Only One Truth”.
HX: Tell me about the cover art. Who is the artist? Is there meaning behind it?
B: The artist who made our cover art for this album is the same guy who made the cover of our last DVD from 2016 “Middle Eastern Battlefield”. His name is Bjoren Grasses from Germany and he a big fan of Arallu from 2002. He made a great job with these two paintings for us. He sketches it by hand. He’s a real talent and if some bands are looking for covers they have to check his works. The layout of this cover was made by our guitar player Gal “Pixel” . Youu can see around the “6” some Hebrew words than mean the names of Angel, Devil, God, Seraph that represent ‘the dilemma of man’. You will find these words inside the song “Adonay ” as the meaning is “GOD”.
HX: This album is your first on Transcending Obscurity Records. How is it working with this label? (for full disclosure, I’ll let you know that I sometimes write for TOmetal.com, the webzine wing of Transcending Obscurity).
B: We signed with Transcending Obscurity Records before we recorded this album. We sent him only demo versions of a few songs and he signed us immediately. TO records are new to us. I’m in contact with Kunal, the owner of TO Records from January and I can tell that he’s a really cool and great person. He really likes what he does and he really like our music. He really believes in Arallu and I hope he will open new doors for us. He recognized the potential of our music, and this is an ability that is not available to everyone. This guy is a professional.
HX: I hear some interesting instrumentation on the album. What instruments, other than the usual guitar, bass, and drum kit, are used? How do you feel these instruments help you tell your story, so to speak?
B: We used Darbukka in almost every song. It’s part of the drum kit in Arallu. And Eylon our percussionist is playing the Saz which is a Middle Eastern string instrument, and some other percussions – Djenbe, Tambourine, etc. It represents our origins and mainly it is a lot of what makes us unique as a band.
HX: For the typical instruments, what gear, pedals, etc were used to create the sound on the album?
B: Assaf plays Pearl drums, Sabian cymbals and Vater drumsticks, Omri Y plays on B.C. RICH guitars like me ,Gal “Pixel” play on Dean Guitar with Marshall and Randall amps.
HX: What are your main musical influences? What about inspirations from outside of music?
B: The old school thrash, black and death metal, like Slayer, Deicide, Behemoth, Mayhem, Dissection, mixed with the traditional music of the Middle East.
HX: What is next for Arallu? Where do you go from here?
B: We actually began to work on our new album already and we really hope to be touring in 2018, but for now we have nothing for sure unfortunately.
HX: What else should our readers know about Arallu?
B: We really like to play for you in your country, so if you know some promoters, please ask for Arallu!
Thanks very much!