Review: Dhul-Qarnayn - Jilwah (2008)


artist: Dhul-Qarnayn
release: Jilwah
format: CD
year of release: 2008
label: Shaytan
dur­a­tion: 27:26

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com.

Dhul-Qarnayn is an Arabic phrase from the Qur’an trans­lat­ing as “He of the Two Horns”, a term that is thought to refer to Alex­an­der the Great. [wiki] For the Bahraini musi­cian Learza, how­ever, it is the name of his musical pro­ject, which is envi­sioned as a “blood and soulpact between Satan and he”. The pro­ject is, unsur­pris­ingly, gen­er­ally tagged as black metal, but this release is actu­ally a ritual ambi­ent EP that blends (West­ern) post-industrial music with Middle-Eastern æsthet­ics and influ­ences.

The track starts with some dark ambi­ent waves and samples of Aleister Crow­ley, taken from the well known wax cyl­in­der record­ings. In par­tic­u­lar the track “The Pen­ta­gram” is one that I’ve heard in many other releases, so its use here seems far from ori­ginal. For that reason, the open­ing of this EP isn’t extremely impress­ive. Later how­ever, we get a fine taste of Arabic folk with female choir singing, string instru­ments and deep per­cus­sion. Based on the start of the album, I some­where have the nag­ging sus­pi­cion that this too might be sampled, but I’ll give Dhul-Qarnayn the bene­fit of the doubt here, and hope he’s got­ten together some fine folk musi­cians for this sec­tion. Regard­less, it sounds bewitch­ing and ritual, and it’s def­in­itely the best part of this release.

After this, the track returns to its dark ambi­ent begin­nings, com­bin­ing dark synth waves with samples of rain and thun­der, and some subtle sounds. Later we get some more samples of Crow­ley (I think), a brief part with an Indian folk record­ing, and then more ambi­ent, this time with some deep beats. This lasts for a while, until the end of the track.

All in all, this release left me with some mixed feel­ings. It con­tains a mix of ori­ginal and inter­est­ing ele­ments and fairly stand­ard or unin­ter­est­ing ones, and the way in which they are com­bined seems a bit ran­dom, without a strong com­pos­i­tion. Jilwah does have a nice atmo­sphere, though, and it would be inter­est­ing to see what this artist can come up with in the future. Until then, this is only inter­est­ing if you want to check out the dis­sem­in­a­tion of post-industrial music out­side of the West­ern world.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. (27:26)

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