Litham - Official Website

Dhal Ennar

Algeria Country of Origin: Algeria

Dhal Ennar
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Buy on: Bandcamp
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: June 28th, 1999
Label: Lelahel Metal
Genre: Death
1. Ila Youm Eddine
2. Secrets
3. El Djamra
4. Elixir
5. Empire Of Ibliss
6. L’kahf
7. Chapter XIII
8. El Litham

Review by El Viejo on March 29, 2020.

Listening to Litham's Dhal Ennar made me realize how much potential there is in innovating with traditional regional sounds, and how it’s so important for any genre to make a substantial difference and evolution on it. While the production of this record is below average, the guitars sound like they went through an NES sound chip, the instruments are totally unbalanced in the mix of this production with the bass drum much louder than the toms, ride cymbal sounds like hitting a tin can of beans, and the vocals extremely loud for their own good. Nonetheless composition wise this album is totally original, and I don't know what to expect in every part of it in very good ways.

This is not an easy to listen to album by all means, as it needs an open minded listener to go through every aspect of this originality, simplicity and complexity mixed at the same time.

The structure of the songs are vernacular and eclectic, sometimes bit of a mish mash (but is totally forgivable due to the experimental nature of this record) with non-generic rhythms that make me wonder what style are they playing, and this is something that many bands nowadays should take notice of. It has almost a dancing rhythm to it, instead of a monotonous head banging all over. It sounds primitive, dark and extremely creative, especially for the year this was recorded. There is something from early Morbid Angel if I can compare it to something, with its awesome guitar solos that has a lot of psychedelic rock from the 60s-70s. The mixture of black shrieks and death growls with oriental rhythms and even clean vocals on the mix makes this more than spectacular and i miss this band already knowing it disbanded so long ago.

The lyrics also manage to stand out, with verses in Arabic, and also English but with regional subjects and ways of expression. The creativity here again shows, and it delivers. The vocal patterns are unorthodox, beautiful when clean vocals hit, and terrifying when harsh does.

Extremely recommended hidden gem from Algeria, that makes me respect every aspect of this beautifully crafted experiment and album. This should be on lists of 'must listen' everywhere for any aspiring metal artists as this was one of the first metal bands from this country and manages to deliver a solid piece of music history. Again, the production may be bad, but can be totally forgiven in this case as under this lays the treasure it is below. This could easily evolve in a new style of metal to explore and can't praise enough the effort from this band.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10


Review by Vanass on March 29, 2020.

Litham is an Algerian progressive death metal band with various influences of North African folk music. Dhal Ennar is their only full-length album and one of those records that I can safely say is underrated beyond any understanding.

It is quite surprising when you hear this album for the first time; the first thing you hear is an exotic slow melody inspired by Arabic folk music and covered by a catchy drumbeat, proving that this album is not your usual bloody and brutal death metal. All songs are very well structured but just don't fit into the usual extreme metal landscape, but that's where the charm of the obscure comes from.

Many riffs seem to be influenced by Death and a few thrashier parts are noticeable. Yacine and Lamine, who are responsible for this great work on the guitars, implemented some quite interesting ideas, which are still quite recognizable despite the somewhat raw production. The structures are simply praiseworthy and despite the fact that melodic, progressive mid-range riffs have some fast and aggressive parts built into the catchy melodies, which at certain points sound like Megadeth on steroids. One feature that makes this album very likable is that the songs get better and better the further you listen to it; the structures become more complex, the riffs get faster and the atmosphere develops in a darker direction.

I can't imagine what a hard time the drummer must have had when he tried to find a style that suited the progressive and folk elements, but he mastered it incredibly well. When you hear the first beat of the first track 'Ila Youm Eddine' you know immediately that you will hear a drummer of high caliber. His best work, and my favorite piece of the album, is most likely 'El Djamra', the song's sound is integrated into the rest of the album, but closer to classic old school death metal; Sabri, the drummer, proved his ability to play blasting parts at any time and dictate the rhythm.

The bass and vocals were done by Redouane; the bass sound is not necessarily impressive, but still well done and stays in the rhythm all the time. The vocals, on the other hand, are impressive. All the clean vocals were used wisely and put into a more narrative role than into active singing. Among the harsh vocals, there was deep growling, high-pitched "goblin" vocals and even some pig squeals on the last pieces. Some of their strength may have been lost due to the production quality, but it doesn't take much imagination to combine the vocals with the music, which was a pleasant addition to the already impressive instrumental performance.

The lyrics focus mainly on the dark sides of life and would probably be provocative if presented to a larger part of the conservative Algerian population. Nevertheless, no extremes are aimed for, the main tone is not radical and there are no very direct attacks on the existing structures. Although I would not describe the texts as something of great artistic value, they are quite interesting because of the way of thinking they represent and the fact that they are an outlet for negativity or personal fascination.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this album if you are a fan of obscure and original sounds. The disappointing thing about this album is that the band split up and we will never hear how they would have developed or how they would sound with a better production quality. Nevertheless, this is a great early progressive death metal album, and before any more time is wasted reading this review, I would recommend that you start listening to this thing.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10