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

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 ęsthetics 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.


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