Album Review – Lelahell / Alif (2018)

Like a firestorm crossing the desert valley, here comes the unstoppable Algerian dark angel of Death Metal armed with a brand new and crushing concept opus.

The unstoppable Algerian dark angel of Death Metal known as Lelahell is finally back with a brand new opus titled Alif, the follow-up to their 2014 pulverizing album Al Insane… The (Re)Birth Of Abderrahmane, containing 10 tracks of unrelenting Death Metal riffs with an Algerian folklore accent, combined with fast blast beats and technical rhythms. Spearheaded by Redouane Aouameur on vocals, guitars and bass, an iconic figure of the Algerian metal scene (as you can see on Highway To Lelahell – An Algerian Metal Documentary), and supported by the ruthless German drummer Hannes Grossmann (Necrophagist, Obscura, Alkaloid, Blotted Science, Hate Eternal), Lelahell are ready to take the world of heavy music by storm once again, with the music found in Alif cementing even more their already solid path of destruction.

Each Lelahell release is conceptually linked to the character of Abderrahmane, yet focusing on another evolutionary step – another chapter in his own book. Featuring a classy cover artwork by Björn Gooßes from Killustrations (who has already worked with bands like Wolfheart, Motorjesus, Amon Amarth, Death Angel and Sodom, among several others), Alif focuses on Abderrahmane’s first steps in his new life, just like a child learning to speak and walk, learning about the world around him full of foes and fears, and that’s why Abderrahmane needs to save himself from those dangers. Musically speaking, Alif is like a firestorm crossing the desert valley, leaving you disoriented due to its endless heaviness, furious speed and undisputed rage, which together with the album’s intricate concept turns it into a must-have for any diehard fan of old school Death Metal.

And Hannes provides his welcome card by pounding his drums manically in the opening tune Paramnesia, being quickly joined by Redouane and his pulverizing riffs and bass punches. However, it’s when he starts barking the song’s lyrics that things get serious in this sonic havoc that lives up to the legacy of brutal and technical Death Metal, showcasing intricate drums and wicked guitar solos. Then a headbanging riffage ignites another belligerent and absolutely devastating tune by Lelahell, named Ignis Fatuus, with the sound of the guitar being insanely heavy, strident and therefore awesome. Furthermore, try following the lyrics along with Redouane (“A delusion, great confusion, foolish fire, Ignis Fatuus / Hallucination, false impression, false hope, Will o’ the wisp / A Fantasy, at first sight, strange light, Ignis Fatuus / It is just an erroneous perception of the reality”); whereas Thou Shalt Not Kill is a cinematic, epic bridge to the imposing hymn Ribat Essalem, where the duo showcases all their skills by blasting slashing riffs and solos, stone-crushing beats and classic demented Death Metal vocals, resulting in a circle pit-catalyst that will please all fans of the genre.

Adam the First gets closer to what they did in their previous album, which means a darker sonority and deeper guttural vocals, also presenting a smashing vibe led by Hannes and feeling at times like that type of Progressive Death Metal commonly found in the United States (but infused with elements from Redouane’s homeland), followed by The Fifth, another brutish display of classic Death Metal by Lelahell where the infernal and demonic growls by Redouane take the song’s malignancy to a whole new level, while Hannes doesn’t stop smashing his drums for a single second. And in Insiraf / Martyr, groovy beats initiate a vile and bold feast of cavernous sounds spearheaded by the uproarious riffs and bass lines by Redouane, with Hannes bringing his usual heavy artillery to support the band’s mastermind in his quest for Death Metal.

An ominous start suddenly morphs to a battering ram of Technical Death Metal made in Algeria in Litham (The Reach of Kal Asuf), with the Algerian nuances bringing a welcome extra flavor to the musicality while Redouane declaims the song’s lyrics in a devilish way (“A dominant symbol of their entity / The veiling of the men is an ancient custom / The origin remains obscure and conjectural / One fold is brought across the face to form the veil / The cloth is wrapped around the head / Touaregs and nomads, wearing those clothes to cover their faces against the desert storms.”). Then setting fire to the music with his lancinating riffs, Redouane kicks off a short and extremely vile Death Metal extravaganza titled Parasits, blasting sheer aggression and hatred in the name of extreme music. Lastly, Redouane’s coup-de-grâce comes in the form of an obscure and crisp Death Metal tune named Impunity of the Mutants, with Hannes sounding like a thunderstorm in the background. Very technical, detailed and full of layers, this is a must-listen for newcomers to the cataclysmic world of Lelahell, presenting sick bass lines and bestial beats that together flow powerfully into an epic finale.

If you have what it takes to enter the realm of crushing Death Metal ruled by Redouane and his Lelahell, you can check what the band is up to on Facebook and listen to more of their music on YouTube, and purchase your copy of Alif (available for a full listen on Spotify) from their own BandCamp page or Big Cartel, as well as from iTunes, Amazon or Discogs. In addition, although I’m not sure who’s responsible for the drums on their live concerts after the departure of Slaveblaster in 2016 (but something tells me he’s still playing with the band somehow), the multi-talented Redouane together with bassist Ramzi Curse (who replaced Nihil in 2015) are indeed a live act, proudly carrying the flag of Algerian and African metal wherever they go, and if I were you I would definitely keep an eye on their agenda for concerts not only in Algeria, but anywhere else where good Death Metal is appreciated. Well, I guess I don’t need to say what you should do if you don’t support Lelahell, right?

Best moments of the album: Paramnesia, Ribat Essalem and Impunity of the Mutants.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Metal Age Productions

Track listing
1. Paramnesia 4:33
2. Ignis Fatuus 3:04
3. Thou Shalt Not Kill 0:30
4. Ribat Essalem 4:27
5. Adam the First 4:26
6. The Fifth 4:01
7. Insiraf / Martyr 5:37
8. Litham (The Reach of Kal Asuf) 5:54
9. Parasits 2:44
10. Impunity of the Mutants 5:16

Band members
Redouane Aouameur – vocals, guitars, bass
Hannes Grosmann – drums

Interview – Lelahel (Lelahell)

The Headbanging Moose talks to the leader of Algerian Death Metal band Lelahell, Redouane “Lelahel” Aouameur, about their new excellent album, their plans for a world tour, his full-blooded passion for extreme music, as well as the current state of Death Metal in Algeria. Support Lelahell or die!

lelahelThe Headbanging Moose: First of all, congratulations on the release of your first full-length record, Al Insane​.​.​. The (Re​)​Birth of Abderrahmane. Could you tell us a little about how Lelahell was born and how difficult the band’s path was until this album became reality? What were the easiest and the most arduous parts in the recording process of the album?

Redouane “Lelahel” Aouameur: Thanks for your great support! And for giving us the opportunity to talk about our music and our band!

Lelahell is an Algerian Death Metal band founded in 2010 by me (Lelahel) and started first as a one man band. One year later it was joined by Slaveblaster (drums) and Nihil (bass), two talented musicians from the band Barbaros.

In July 2012, Al Intihar EP was released on Goressimo Records and officially distributed by Sevared Records in the USA.

In January 2013 we started to record drums of our first full length album, two months later we started the recording of bass and guitars. The vocals were recorded in August 2013 just before our first tour. After that I was going to mix and master the album, but it was difficult to find a suitable sound for our music which was the most arduous part of the recording process, so we decided to search for a producer, and by the time we could find someone for that we were already in December 2013.  The album was mixed and mastered by Ivan from Athropocide Studio from Belarus. He did a great job, this guy is very patient and talented! But very slow lol! Because the album was finalized in March 2014.

The easiest part was the writing process because it was something very natural and without any stress, everything came from our guts!

ImpressionTHM: Songs like Al Intissar and Hillal do not only offer the fans the traditional Death Metal  they’re looking for, but they also carry some interesting and relevant message in their lyrics, especially in regards to the Algerian culture. Can you tell us more about how those songs were created and what they truly mean for you?

Lelahel: “Al Intissar” is an hymn to victory and all against those fuckin’ losers who complain all day long without doing anything from their lives. Move your ass fucking assholes! It was the first written song of the album, and maybe the most interesting.

The other song, “Hillal”, has a more philosophical concept and it is about the interaction of the human with the nature. The main riff is taken from a melody used in a song called “Into the Past” from our first EP, and played differently. And maybe we will do the same thing in the next album?

THM: Another song that caught my attention in Al Insane… The (Re)Birth of Abderrahmane was Mizmar, which also contains elements of the Arabic culture. Although you’re a traditional Death Metal band, are you considering one day recording any songs that are more connected to your country, and consequently less brutal, like the acoustic and tribal songs Sepultura added to some of their albums in the past?

Lelahel: Maybe just an intro or a prelude of a few seconds, we are a Death Metal band not a folk or other kind of metal band. The main concept of Lelahell is brutality through melody! 

THM: How much do you think that singing in French is beneficial to your music? Don’t you think that the French language can become a barrier for Lelahell to enter the North American and European markets, which are more than essential for the survival of any band?

lelahel02Lelahel: In general we don’t sing in French, we used French in only one song, “Hypnose”, and we used also Spanish in “Hermanos”, a song from Al Intihar (our first EP). Maybe we’ll use Italian, German or another language in our future albums. We just do that in one song only in each release, it is the trademark of Lelahell! But in general we use English, Algerian and classical Arabic in our songs, and I don’t think that it will be a barrier to enter the European and American markets! Nowadays many known bands use their native language in their music.

THM: This topic might be a little delicate, but many people believe that the African continent, in special its Islamic countries, are not a place for Death Metal or any type of heavy music. What’s your opinion about that? Have you ever suffered any type of discrimination inside or outside Algeria because of your music and origin, and if so, how do you deal with this type of issue?

Lelahel: I play metal for more than 20 years, and never got any problem in my country, I think that you have a false idea about our countries which is transmitted by your media. Outside Algeria we played in many Europeans countries (France, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Malta), I also played in Belgium and France 10 years before with my previous band Litham, all without any problem.

THM: What can you tell us about the Death Metal scene in Algeria? How does it differ from the state of Death Metal in countries like the United States, Canada, Germany, Brazil and Japan?

Lelahel: We can’t say that there is a Death Metal scene in Algeria. Actually there are only a few bands which are active. And the main problems are the lack of places for playing and rehearsing! This is why bands disband after 2 or 3 years of existence.

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Album Review – Lelahell / Al Insane… The (Re)Birth Of Abderrahmane (2014)

THM: What are your tour plans now that you finally have a full-length album to promote, and how are your fans and first-time listeners reacting to your new songs at your live performances? Are there any specific songs that are receiving more positive feedback than others?

Lelahel: We played a few weeks ago at the Malta Death Fest, it was the first gig after the release of the album  and we got very positive feedback from Maltese and many European death metalheads! The song that received more positive feedback from all listeners is actually “Kalimet Essir”.

Our next plan to promote the album is an Euro tour planned for December of this year booked by Axa Valhalla productions from Romania. The confirmed dates are in Germany, Switzerland, Poland and maybe France. Stay in touch for more news!

THM: Who are your biggest idols in music, and to what extend have those bands or artists influenced what we can hear in your debut album? And did you consider recording a cover song of any of your main influences in Al Insane… The (Re)Birth of Abderrahmane or did you feel the album should have been 100% original, just the way it ended up being?

Lelahel: We don’t have any particular idols, but we have two main sources of inspiration: everything which is related to Death Metal and all brutal stuff, and the second is our local music. With those two things we can write more than 100,000 albums, no?

In my opinion no one can be 100% original in music except if you are living in another planet!

lelahell02THM: How do you see the future of heavy music in Algeria and in the rest of the world, especially in regards to Death Metal, a music genre always marginalized by the vast majority of the society? In addition, do you believe the Internet has been having a more positive or negative impact on your band and on Death Metal in general?

Lelahel: Back to the early days: the tape trading and paper zines and such things, when the people where more supportive to small underground bands buying demos and going to small shows! Nowadays things have really changed, people prefer to spend thousands of bucks for going to a festival with big bands instead of 3 or 5 to support their local band. The internet has its benefits because it is really easier for a band from all around the globe to spread music and all info than before, but the technology and mp3 really killed the charm of music. People became lazier!

In the future I think that things will go on the same way!

THM: Thanks a lot for your time. Feel free to send a message to all true Death Metal fans all over the world, especially to the ones here in Canada that are starting to enjoy the music by Lelahell.

Lelahel: Thanks a lot for your great support! And stay brutal!

You can purchase our album from our webstore.

SUPPORT LELAHELL OR DIE!!!

Links
Lelahell Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Album Review – Lelahell / Al Insane… The (Re)Birth Of Abderrahmane (2014)

Pure aggressive Death Metal full of meaningful content? That’s exactly what this bright Algerian band offers us with their music.

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coverLelahel is an angel of the zodiac exercising dominion over love, art, science and fortune, bringing light and good luck to mankind. However, when an extra ‘l’ is added to its name, it’s time for Algerian Death Metal band Lelahell to attack all human beings with their first full-length album, the impetuous Al Insane… The (Re)Birth Of Abderrahmane, an album which fans of bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and Vital Remains will be able to relish while at the same time they learn more about the culture of that Islamic country located in North Africa.

Of course, this is a Death Metal album, so do not expect to listen to anything that’s not as heavy as hell. The differential in Al Insane… The (Re)Birth Of Abderrahmane, as you can see by the name of the album (Abderrahmane is the transliteration of Abdur Rahman in French-speaking North Africa, meaning “servant of the most merciful”) and also the names of most songs, is the fact that the band makes it clear where they come from by adding elements of their culture to their symphony of violence. Consequently, their music becomes a lot more robust and appealing to fans of extreme music than if it was just the basic Death Metal many other bands play. This is something unique bands such as Sepultura and Chthonic do all the time, like in the masterpieces Roots and Bú-Tik, and you know how amazing those albums are.

After the quick intro Mazaghran, which is the name of a town and commune in Mostaganem Province, Algeria, you’ll already notice that cultural influence in Al Intissar, an Arabic word that means “victory” or “triumph” in English, with its blast beats, devilish and deep guttural vocals, and especially its very traditional Death Metal guitar growls showing you how brutal heavy music should be done. Voices Revealed has a more direct musicality than the opening track, but doesn’t sound so inspired, while Kalimet Essir is a true sonic massacre, guided by a dark tune generated by its guitar lines and fast drums (which you can see HERE). The only thing I couldn’t figure out was the meaning of the words “Kalimet Essir”, maybe the band could help me with this one.

lelahellThe nonstop violent Death Metal in Hypnose is highly recommended for insane mosh pits, with highlights to its good chorus and interesting drumming variations, followed by the short instrumental Imzad. This is another great example of how culture and music walk hand in hand, as “Imzad music is a characteristic feature of Tuareg communities and is performed by women on a single-stringed bowed instrument known as the Imzad.”, adding an extra Arabic touch to the whole album.

Fans of the old Cannibal Corpse will surely enjoy Am I In Hell?, with its Thrash Metal elements, really deep guttural and an ending that’s more than perfect for some brutal headbanging, and pretty much the same can be said about Hillal, or “crescent moon” in English, as this song is as violent and fast as it can be, energized by its evil vocal lines. Lastly, closing the album we have the almost Black Metal of Black Hands, the most obscure of all tracks (especially its riffs) where even the vocal parts are more inclined to Black Metal, with a cleaner guitar solo amidst all destruction to give more balance to the song; and the sheer brutality of the riffs and bass lines in Mizmar, another song that strengthens the connections Lelahell has with their homeland, as “Mizmar is also a term used for a group of musicians, usually a duo or trio, that play a mizmar (flute) instrument along with an accompaniment of one or two double-sided bass drums, known in Arabic as tabl baladi or simply tabl.”

The interesting cover artwork by Kaamos Illustration, who has already worked with bands such as Hypocrisy and Pain, also has lots of elements from the Algerian culture, including the stylish band’s logo, showcasing once again how the guys from Lelahell are true to their roots. Al Insane… The (Re)Birth Of Abderrahmane, available at the official Horror Pain Gore Death Productions webshop and BandCamp page, is more than just Death Metal: it’s good music with content, something so difficult to find even in heavy music these days.

Best moments of the album: Al Intissar, Hillal and Black Hands.

Worst moments of the album: Voices Revealed.

Released in 2014 Horror Pain Gore Death Productions

Track listing
1. Mazaghran (Intro) 0:19
2. Al Intissar 5:11
3. Voices Revealed 4:00
4. Kalimet Essir 5:00
5. Hypnose 5:43
6. Imzad 0:48
7. Am I In Hell? 4:45
8. Hillal 5:27
9. Black Hands 4:48
10. Mizmar 4:58

Band members
Lelahel – guitars, vocals
Nihil – bass
Slaveblaster – drums