Personally, I’ve waited for this moment for so long. I came across Scarab’s music for the first time through “Serpents of the Nile” which left me amazed and shocked, IT IS an EGYPTIAN METAL BAND! EGYPTIAN METAL BAND influenced with our ancient glorious history, the blackness of the lands of Kemet, painted in colors of the sand, the Nile, the stony huge temples. Reviewing “Martyrs of the Storms” is not an easy task, it is challenging for any reviewer connected to the Egyptian Metal scene. I may write the only EGYPTIAN review published on professional, Egyptian Metal Webzine. So, Let’s move to the review about this album.
Before going deep into my review, I prefer to you to see first Scarab‘s members thoughts about their album, the band posted on Facebook,
“Channeling & creating a work of heavy alchemical art like “Martyrs of the Storm” was a matter of survival from death, destruction & martyrdom to us. We pay our awe & respect to the land of Kemet, the great Egypt. Our homeland, the land of magic, mysticism & gnosis. The source of our inspiration in times of chaos and in times of order. All hail the great ancient land and the never ending river of mysteries that it holds.“
Based on this, you have a hint about this journey through the world of chaos, glory, victory, and mystery. Just keep Scarab‘s slogan of the album in your mind “The Storm is Approaching.” While listening to the opening track “Martyrs of the Storm,” Mysterious guitar tunes backed by ambient echo as if you are passing your hands on ancient holographic texts on the walls. Shortly, you find yourself pulled into stormy music, darkened tunes, heavy drums, and killing guitar riffs. It is like running inside endless paths of history, you are witnessing the incident before your eyes. Starting with “Martyrs of the Storm” is a smart choice, the track is so melodic and it managed to drive the listener to continue the album’s journey.
Moving to “Necropotence,” it is a heavier track with a sense of rage. It reflects a progression of the album’s mood. It ends with some screams and calls of fighting people, this paves the way to the next track “Kingdoms of Chaos.“
I will mention something strange, the band may not mean that but it is my feelings. When it comes to “Kingdoms of Chaos”, there is a status of a fight, unrest, a conflict which is well scripted in terms of music. Therefore, I want to make it more visual. If you come across Youssif Chahin’s “Al Mohager,” just remember the scene when the religious groups and the leadership of the army went in a dispute. Fire, fight, blood, CHAOS! on one hand, it is like a nation burns itself by its own hands, on the other hand, this fight is expanded to include different old-world acts. It is a matter of mythology and history typically. Nobody can deny that many civilizations were built upon chaos.
After listening to “Kingdoms of Chaos”, you may get the impression of the progression of darkness, it is like a curve. The album is getting darker, deeper, more enraged, and more complicated in terms of music. Here comes “Blood Moon Shadows,” the intro is so ghostly with depressive touches, there is a mood of evil, hatred. The music is painted in colours of melodic blackness, brutality. Variety in melodies and rhythms make you enjoy with every sound. The atmosphere of the song catches your breaths, recalls scattered images of deaths, fights, conflicted colors, and opposing sides. In other words, “Blood Moon Shadows” is one of the best composed tracks of the release alongside “Coffin Texts.”
The upcoming track “Circles of Verminijya” sets a mood of controversion after its release. The theme of the track is exceptional and strange; voodoo cultures or the native culture of the African lands which we are a part from this culture, we carry a part of these roots, rituals, history, and blood. I am quoting here a part taken from my review of “Circles of Verminejya:”
“the title “Circles of Verminejya” is somehow a strange name to the listeners. Actually, I need to thank Scarab for releasing the song with a lyric video that contains actual Voodoo rituals to have more understanding of the track’s theme.
You can find out those folk dances. People are dancing in the middle of a circle and surrounded by a circle of audience. It is a mutual form of celebrations in mostly of Native Cultures. For example, The Ancient Greek Theater was built as a circle and the Ancient Arabic Poetry contests were held in the form of a circle of audience.
The lyrics mentioned the meaning of “Circles of Verminejya” “I Draw Barriers and Dance in offering within the circles of Verminejya”! That’s why I think that the “Circles of Verminejya” means the circles where the Voodoo rituals, mainly dances, take place.”
I can’t deny, the new version of the song is an excellent one, the intro with African influenced tunes reflects the essence of the track. I can speak a lot about this track because it is MY MOST FAVORITE. Every tune of it flooded inside of me, tastes the sweet-bitter taste of native cultures survival against the colony. So, I need to move to the following two tracks “The Dwellers Beneath” and “Oblivious Sanctum.”
“The Dwellers Beneath” starts with a spoken part that looks like whispers from the other side. It expresses a deeper deathly sound and a darker and fiercer atmosphere. The solo is remarkable and I like how the solo is well engaged to the music, it joins the music smoothly and ends beautifully without any disturbance. While “Oblivious Sanctum”, “Saturnian,” and “Upon the Pagan Lands” give me the impression of recalling the previous work of Scarab! I don’t know if this feeling is true or not, but I felt that those tracks reflect the previous Scarab work, their taste of bitterness, of composing Egyptian Death Metal taste, of their music hybridity of Western and Egyptian Oriental tendencies.
Now only one track left for reviewing “Coffin Texts”. Before talking about it, I want to admit a fact, the album is somehow long, it is an enjoyable album, undoubtedly, there is a magical musical excitement but at the same time it is heavy and some tracks carried similarities of the style and the mood, so I felt that adding “Coffin Texts” as number 8 in the playlist is not fair for the track. It was really smart that Scarab released the track as a single before the official release of the album. “Coffin Texts” is in one word, a symphony, an epic of musical composition and harmony. The music takes you to death, to the underworld, experiencing death, chasing ghosts especially the outro of the track.
WOW, WHAT A JOURNEY, to sum up, this review, I should thank each member of Scarab who gives this album a part of his blood and soul, especially Amir Al Saadi who surprised everyone with his professional and blasting drums through the album, why I am mentioning Amir because he joined the band only in life performances, it is our first time to test Amir‘s abilities with Scarab and he left his drums sounds stuck in our ears after listening to the album, it is not easy to write or produce such a profound album, Scarab proved their endless talents of performing and composing, all lines are beautifully and harmoniously mixed together.
The album was like a one-day journey but at the same time a journey of life, it is like the ancient Egyptian myth of the journey of the sun, notions of the Earth and the sky, story of touching sands that carry the essence of life, the sweat of the lost, and the blood of the martyrs. The storm here is not an actual storm, but it is an intellectual storm that shakes your own eternities, beliefs, and peace. The quality of the production and the magic of engaging the solos and the melodies inside the tracks are impressive.
Finally, I need mention just negative points as I expressed above: some tracks carry the same style or mood, so one of them could be discarded which will shorten the length of the album positively, the album is somehow long, and it is not good to drop “Coffin Texts” at the end of the playlist. So, the first time in my life, I give an EGYPTIAN Metal band a rate from 9.8 to 10 based on my experience!! It is the only album that deserves 10! And, I want to tell Scarab, you make it hard for you and for everyone in the scene to produce an equivalent to your “Martyrs of the Storm”!!!!!!!
Written and Edited by Rana Atef.