Who would have thought that one of Israel’s most prolific extreme black metal bands would emerge from the decidedly suburban Pleasantville of Ma’aleh Adumim and be fronted, no less, by a border policeman?
Welcome to the world of Arallu and its frontman, Moti “Butchered” Daniel. You’ll never hear them on the radio dial, but the band performs regularly, both locally and abroad. They just played at the Garasjefestival in Norway and are an integral part of the Israeli extreme metal scene, alongside other acts such as Winterhorde, Ma’anish and Shredhead.
They have released seven albums to date, including The War on the Wailing Wall, Satanic War in Jerusalem and The Demon from the Ancient World; their upcoming album is called Death Covenant.
Google “black metal” and you’ll find that it’s a subgenre of heavy metal music that typically takes on anti-Christian, satanic and pagan themes.
Patient and thoughtful, Daniel explained how he became an aficionado and practitioner of the underground genre.
“It all started in the late ’90s when I was in the army and began listening to Norwegian black metal,” he said.
“During this time, a wave of terrorist attacks swept our nation. The bloodshed was horrifying and I experienced it firsthand. This combination sparked within me a deep resentment toward religion. It made me realize that all the wars going on here are rooted in religious beliefs, which resonated especially well with me, seeing how black metal as a genre criticizes religion, as well.
“As a result, I was motivated to pick up my guitar and start writing songs. The riffs and lyrics just came naturally.
“If you take a listen to the first two Arallu albums, The War on the Wailing Wall and Satanic War in Jerusalem, you’ll notice the songs and lyrics are more extreme there than in any of our other releases. Everything was about the terrorism and relentless bloodshed going on in Jerusalem back then. From that hardship and the music I was listening to, I created Arallu and the first two albums as a one-man black metal project. I only acquired new members a few years later, turning Arallu into a fully fledged band.”
Black metal is by no means a music genre that’s easy for the casual listener to get into. However, if there’s anything Arallu proves, it’s that even in some of the most extreme, aggressive music one can come across, profound philosophies and underlying meanings lay hidden for those willing to look deep enough.
Are your album titles meant to be symbolic or are you just trying to be provocative?
We’ve never aimed to be provocative, nor are we a political band, but reality led us to give our works such shocking titles. The second album, Satanic War in Jerusalem, came out while Jerusalem bled.... That’s why the album is called Satanic War in Jerusalem; there was a satanic war of religions in Jerusalem at the time and the album title symbolized that. The “Satanic” part is a metaphor for religions slaughtering each other. The same goes for the song, “Religions Are Dead,” the meaning behind its title is that once religions die, so will wars.”
It’s been reported that you have gotten along well with some other metal bands from countries like Lebanon and Iran. After connecting with these bands from countries that oppose Israel, do you think metal can help bring an era of peace and understanding to the Middle East?
I wish, but sadly, no. There’s only so much we have control over. We don’t hate Arabs, Iranians or Lebanese folk. We hate terrorists, the extremists who use religion in a cynical way to further their own twisted agendas. We flew to Turkey and met people from Iran and Lebanon. We sat down over a beer and even published a famous photo of our three passports together; one Israeli, one Iranian and one Lebanese.
If our work leads someone to become more tolerant or wish for peace, great. But understand that as a black metal band, our goal isn’t to create world peace with our music or anything of the sort. We create extreme music about topics that make us angry. I truly hope peace will come to the Middle East one day, but unfortunately, mankind is unable to reach such a goal.”
Some of Arallu’s songs feature what sounds like dialogue among Israeli soldiers on the battlefield. Were those segments inspired by your army service?
Those samples you hear of soldiers at war are used in our fifth album, Geniewar. It’s a concept album about wars in Israel, and even includes covers of two old Israeli folk songs about the topic; “Hayalim Almonim” and “Giv’at Ha’tachmoshet.” The samples are taken from documentaries about these wars, and we included them to make the listener feel as though they’re in the middle of a war zone. Thematically, Geniewar goes over the history of wars here, from resistance against the British Mandate, to the founding of Israel, to every war Israel fought. It’s a very interesting concept album full of both clear and hidden meanings, fascinating both musically and thematically.
Unfortunately, most black metal bands don’t make much money off their work. What other jobs do you have besides being in Arallu?
Now, I’m a border policeman, but I was a soldier when the first album came out, and by the time the second one was released, I finished my military service and didn’t have any money. At the time, I got a bunch of offers from promoters in Europe to tour and give concerts there. I’m almost certain that had I taken up the offer, I would have earned a lot of money off my music and moved to Europe, like what Melechesh [another Israeli black metal band] did. Instead, I chose to find a serious job here in Israel and keep creating music as a hobby.
In other words, I’m in Arallu for the sake of music, not profit. If I end up making some good money through the music, great, but that’s not my top priority with the band. The rest of Arallu’s members are with me on this, each one has their own separate job as a main source of income. Sure, we make some money off our albums, merchandise and live shows, but that income goes to the band so we can up the budget on music production, make higher quality products and perform more concerts. Even if we were to sign onto a large record label, I doubt we’d earn enough money to a point where we could ditch our main jobs, but we’re perfectly fine with that.”
For more information on Arallu go to https://www.facebook.com/ARALLU666/