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ARALLU's Butchered: "When you live as the terror is surrounding you and you grow up in this endless conflict, whether you want to or not, it inspires you whatever you do."

Interview with Butchered from Arallu
by "Metal Mark" Garcia at 21 November 2020, 2:27 AM

Israel is a country with many particular features in terms of Metal. It’s not a surprise that names as ORPHANED LAND and MELECHESH had a strong crush on Metal fans’ hearts. But another name lies on Israeli underground scene, as good as the previous ones: the name of ARALLU, an Oriental Black Metal act. As they released a new album late last year (“En Olam”), and are re-releasing their first album (“The War on the Wailing Wall”), Metal Temple writer Marcos Garcia had a chance to talk with Butchered, the band’s founder, to know what the Jerusalem Demons are planning for the future, what they’re doing now, and something about the past.

First of all, I want to thank you for this interview. And as our first question, let’s speak about the past: the band was founded back on 1997, more than 20 years ago. How the band begun? How the idea of creating a band came to you at first? And what are the bands that you point as influencers to your music back then?

Hello and thank you for this interview. I'm Butchered, the main member of the band and with me is our guitarist Omnius, we will be answering your great interview together. Arallu was founded in Jerusalem in the middle of the conflict between the religions around the old city of Jerusalem in the 90'. When you live as the terror is surrounding you and you grow up in this endless conflict, whether you want to or not, it inspires you whatever you do. I remember the bus exploding next to me when I was on my way to school. We saw every day the hatred coming in through the TV news. I was 16 years old and the extreme black metal concept around Europe came to my life mixed with bloodshed around Jerusalem, and that is what brought Arallu to life. when I started listening to the European black metal bands of the 90's ,I really liked the idea of the local folk music inside the raw sound of the black metal. I thought to myself "I can't play like that . I can’t write music like that. I can feel the cold and the mountains coming out from the speakers! if I will try to sound like that no one will listen to my music. I can’t make it sound like that. BUT if I will bring a special sound and guitar riffs with special instruments combined with them, that I can do". and that’s what happened. middle eastern music is my childhood home music.

My father was listening to this music since I was a child. the combination between the European sound and the middle eastern sound is not easy to do and we work hard to combine them but after many years you can see how it works together. If you take the metal music side we are really inspired by the old school sounds, bands like Venom, old Slayer, Deicide, Bathory, Mayhem, King Diamond, Celtic Frost and many others.  We live in the Middle East as you know, it's not easy here in Jerusalem and Israel. We live in days of war, religions and religious hatred that inspires our music and lyrics. The whole concept of Arallu is the ultimate war in the Middle East, since we are living it. I believe it's coming naturally even if we try to ignore it. Arallu is NOT political band. Arallu is a radical band in the music and the lyric. We do not hate anyone or anybody because of his skin color or his religion. Our lyrics are clear! We rise against what is offensive and hurting us. Us as human beings, us as individuals. The people in Israel don’t know what good life is. We are busy with worrying about personal and national security. Our lyrics are straight in your face, against the religions and what they represent and of course the people behind them. Our lyrics talks about all those things. From the wars of the ancient times as kings tried to rule Jerusalem, to the wars of today as ISIS are trying to destroy and kill anyone who doesn’t agree with their religious views. This album is the mirror of the human race, hypocrisy of the governments all around the world including Israel, and the unwillingness and fear to fight against the extreme religion leaders. Arallu is the horn of the situation in the Middle East and specially the horn of the wars all around the years in Jerusalem. We don't look for headlines in the paper. We play and live black metal from the 90's. I saw so many death and blood over my life, so I'm really not afraid of Islamic groups because of my music.

“The War on the Wailing Wall!” is the name of your first Demo Tape, and you played and made the vocals alone. Why work in a solitary form on those days? Were you thinking, back then, to make ARALLU a one man band? If yes, why things change to a band with a line up?

You're tack me back 23 years ago, long before I had any idea it would turn into 7 full-length albums, shows with giants of the genre, 3 DVDs and 2 EPs. I started this whole thing as an 18-year-old soldier playing in his room and trying to create a sound that would be like all the European bands but will bring about their atmosphere. As far as I can remember I didn't even look for other musicians at the time – I didn't believe there are any Israelis who can play at the speeds I wanted and who would want to write such primitive and violent music. I gave in in advance on that account, not realizing those people do in fact exist. It was 2002, after releasing 2 studio albums, that I realized that there are people who connect with the style I'm writing in; that's when I started recruiting other musicians and turning Arallu from a project to a full-fledged band.

Let’s speak a little about “The War on the Wailing Wall”, the album. Why does it bear the same name of the Demo? And how was the experience of recording the first album? What are the good and bad things you remember from those days? Were you satisfied with the final result back then?

The first demo was written in 1997 and recorded in 1998. There weren't professional studios everywhere back then like you see today, and those that did exist were very expensive. While looking for a studio I came across a small one in the market district of Jerusalem. I was a soldier then, without much in the form of a budget, especially one for a solo project with no help from others. I had no idea what the demo would sound like, I never listened to anything that this studio did – it just fir the budget so I went and recorded there. After the demo came out, there was a lot of positive talk going around the Israeli scene – people were surprised it was an Israeli band at all, and with time that demo became a cult classic, considered to this day as one of the most unique releases to come out of the country. It has a very special vibe to it that other bands from that time couldn't bring about, and that's why I called our first album by the same name – I wanted to bring that same vibe, the same atmosphere into the album.

Still speaking about “The War on the Wailing Wall”. It’s being re-released now, on vinyl, and on a remastered version. Why to do so today, a time when the greater part of the fans usually looks for digital formats? And what are the greater differences between both versions? And by the way, it seems that the lyrics concepts deal with the internal conflicts between the Abrahamic religions on Jerusalem, isn’t it?

That album came out in 3 versions over the years. When we first put it out CDs were considered the most professional format, and that's why we released it on CDs. That was a step up, I felt, because we were only able to release the demo on cassettes back then (vinyl was considered a dying format and wasn't even considered). As you can see, after 20 years, history repeats itself. I was looking for a label to re-release our second album, Satanic War In Jerusalem, and the label asked to re-release the first – and we've agreed, because of its cult status. The texts indeed all talk of the endless conflict between the 3 monotheistic religions living in the Old City of Jerusalem – drawing from our daily reality.

Since then, ARALLU music has evolved. Even on “The War on the Wailing Wall”, the influences of Middle East region Folk music, but on “Six” and “En Olam”. What made such musical influences become clear as your music evolved? Was it an intentional thing, something that time itself made bloom, or is there another point you want to state?

It evolved naturally. Of course, at the time of each album right from the first we thought that THAT was our very best (although some fans still think our first album was indeed our best) … but today with En Olam and Geniewar we've gone musically to places I never would have imagined 20 years ago. Part of that is just maturation of the band. Personal and family realities have changed, there are lineup changes and every new member brings his own unique spin on things, every part of it gives the end product a different twist.

You played a lot with some great names on Metal on Israel, as BEHEMOTH, MAYHEM, SATYRICON, ENSLAVED, MARDUK, and others. How was the reception of the public to your work? And was to be with these guys? Maybe some of them are like heroes for you.

Some of them truly are our musical heroes, like Mayhem, Marduk and Satyricon. If you'd have told me 20 years ago that I'll be sharing a roster with these bands, I'd have probably answered you're joking, there's no way. But with the music that we've made, our great fans and the labels who seem to love our style and help us to advance musically (such as Yishai Sweartz and his Raven Music) we've managed to conquer those objectives and even fulfill some of our personal dreams.

As ARALLU is one of the few Israeli bands that played on Europe, this feature opens way a question: it’s empirical that, if there are bands on a country, it has a Metal scene. But only few names from Israel played outside of the country. You, ORPHANED LAND, MELECHESH, HAMMERCULT are the ones that comes to my mind now. So why is so difficult to Israeli bands to play on Europe? And how is the Israeli Metal scene as a whole?

Well, to answer the first part of the question, it boils down (like most things) to experience and logistics. In most parts of the world, if you want to tour it's enough for a bunch of guys to all get in a friend's van and just drive anywhere – the borders will allow it and you can get through many places with at least marginal metal scenes. Israel, not so much – the regional geopolitical state just won't allow it. The logistical nightmare of having to fly to every single tour you do – from gear rental to car rental to just knowing places and getting there makes it far more difficult for any Israeli band to do it.

To go to the second part of your question, there are many new and exciting bands in the Israeli scene and there's great music coming out all the time – but there's also great changeover, and it seems the entire scene gets changed completely every two years or so. That brings me to my second point, experience – because of the very quick changeover, it's very hard for bands to get the experience and draw power to actually make such a logistical nightmare feasible.

ARALLU was interviewed twice for films: one by Sam Dunn for “Global Metal”, and one by Olivier Richard for “Un Monde De Metal”. Such interviews yearned the band some feedback from Europe, USA and other strong Metal markets throughout the world?

Apart from those films we've had a lot of interviews to different zines from all over the world, and of course reviews of our various albums over the years. I believe every single interview or review reveals us to new listeners. Today, the media is the strongest thing to advertise – the combination of good interesting music with strong advertisement is the recipe for success.  Sadly, there are probably millions around the world who would love our music but have never discovered it or listened to it – I really hope that as we grow, we'll get to many many more metalheads around the world!

Unfortunately, due the COVID-19 pandemic, things had stopped and plans had to be delayed. And “En Olam” was released just 3 months before the worldwide pandemic’s outbreak. How are you dealing with that hard moment? Many bands throughout the world are doing live shows via internet for the fans, but and you?

Well it definitely threw a monkey wrench in the works! We were busy working on a European fest tour when the fit hit the shan, luckily so far things are mostly postponed and not outright cancelled. We did one live rehearsal stream when the lockdown in Israel was lifted, but for the most part we took this time to go hard-core writing and started working on the next release… I guess we'll just have to have a tour supporting two records instead of one! We haven't done a livestream show because we're a very live-focused band, and we don't think the camera will capture the feeling of a live show we pride ourselves on. We've seen several attempts by other bands to do it and decided it would be better to work on our new material, and interact with our audience online through weekly watch parties and our Facebook group.

As I reviewed “Six” some years ago, I saw a band with a great potential to spread its talons and conquer the world. I was really amazed by the blend of Middle East folk elements with Black Metal. Above, I asked how things evolved to this point, but do you think that this blend will become even greater and seductive in the future?

We always remain loyal to the unique sound we've cultivated over the years, but having said that, we try to bring new twists on that with each album, and to add more interesting sounds from our area of the world. We try very hard to make every single album interesting and not to repeat ourselves, but it's also important that the listener will be able to recognize us right from the first note… and all that without being predictable or too similar to any of our other albums.

Some bands are taking this time of pandemic to create new songs. Are you composing new ones by now? And there are plans for a new ARALLU release soon? If yes, tell us some info about how things are working.

We're always working at some capacity or another, so the moment the lockdown order was passed and we couldn't do any more rehearsals we started writing, at that point on our own. After we got out of the lockdown we started working together on making the new songs, and we hope to start pre-production very soon after this (second) lockdown passes. It's a long and arduous process, but it's the way that gets results and we hope you'll be able to hear them sometime in 2021!

Well, that’s all. Once more, I thank you for this interview, and please, leave your message to our readers.

We like to thank you for your excellent questions and for your support; and I hope we'll get to do a show over in Brazil soon! Keep your self and your family safe through these trying times and keep on listening to ARALLU as you watch the end of the world!


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Edited 03 February 2023

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