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Al-Namrood: The Metal Band Protesting the Saudi Arabian Government

posted on: Jan 25, 2023

Al-Namrood Band Logo / Wikipedia

By: Alison Norquist / Arab America Contributing Writer

When one typically thinks of metal music, the images that come to mind are pale Scandinavians in black clothing, burning churches, and Satanic imagery. Over the years, metal has spread beyond the fjords into the various corners of the world as a means to communicate the frustrations felt because of the society that one is surrounded in. Now, the genre has gained an Arab twist by featuring traditional Arab instruments and Arabic lyrics.

Frustrations became especially loud in the case of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Namrood. Focusing on voicing their views against the Islamic grip on the Arab governments, Al-Namrood strums dangerous chords with each song. The trio of musicians, who do everything in their power to remain anonymous, would likely face execution due to the strong messages against the Islamic reign in Saudi Arabia. Despite the gross punishment should they be discovered, Al-Namrood has been creating music since 2008.

Meaning “non-believer” in Arabic, the band’s name is also a nod to the legendary figure Nimrod. This rebellious king, credited with building the Tower of Babel, has been shown in several different ways, depending on which religion you follow or what side of history you are on. At the end of the day, one thread is always common: Nimrod defies the Abrahamic God. So what does all of this history have to do with being executed for music?

The issue comes from the extensive reach of the Islamic faith on politics in the Middle East. While it is the most practiced faith in the region, it is not the default. These theocracies have made it impossible for those who do not adhere to the stricter sects of the state’s faith to be happy, healthy, and productive members of society. Instead, any who would oppose the faith-based regimes are often met with torture, life in prison, or even death.

Warning: depictions of weapons and flashing lights.

Much like their Scandinavian musical kin, Al-Nimrood uses metaphors and imagery associated with discordant religion and politics to emphasize the emotions they believe to be boiling below the surface of everyday Saudi Arabian citizens. In an interview with Vice, the band discussed how they use their music as a means not just of self-expression, but also as a way to keep sane:

“We’re fed up with religion. The fact is that everything that is connected to it makes us nauseous. I personally spoke to a shrink. He advised me that whenever I get inflamed I have to express [what I’m feeling]. So here we are, expressing… We’re owned by the Islamic sharia. Everything we do must be justified by Islam and acknowledged by society. There are two outrageous powers: religion and our society. They both interact and fulfil each other.”

-Al-Namrood, 2015

The band goes on to further discuss the universal thread of what many people believe about their governments: high levels of hypocrisy and a lack of awareness about what the citizen needs. This theme runs throughout much of music but is often a strong foundational message of hard rock, metal, and punk. While it is hard to find these genres in the region, there are still those who find their way to being heard.

Despite having never played a show or put their faces to a music video, the band has found some minor success. As of the new year, they have over 8,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and approximately 1,000,000 views of their posted videos on YouTube. This of course does not include the multitude of views on fan accounts. This small, independent metal band is trying to change the view of their country, one headbang at a time.

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