AS SAHAR - Primitively Eastern Winds ‘93 LP
Whereas the second wave of black metal of the early 1990s is most commonly associated with the notorious scene in Norway and, to a somewhat lesser extent, other countries of Europe and North America, a more minor degree of attention is given to similarly potent movements that were emerging in warmer climates around the globe. In Southeast Asia, the island of Singapore served as an incubator for a clandestine infestation of black death that gave rise to such revered cults as Impiety and Abhorer. Several others toiled in the shadows, mostly secluded from a culture that viewed their existence as a social disease. Among this group was As Sahar, an obscure three-piece entity originally consisting of Malik Hanael (bass), Sam Uriel (drums), and Hanael’s younger brother, One Barchiel (guitar, vocals, keyboards). The band’s name, derived from Arabic and in reference to “the peak of the occult,” was conjured by Barchiel and is shrouded in a mystique that is born out in the music itself. As Sahar began as an unnamed thrash metal band in 1987 and rehearsed covers of their primary inspirations in Sodom, Kreator, Destruction, Poison (Ger), Mercyful Fate, Venom, Hallows Eve, Postmortem, and Fantom Warior. Although they soon began to write their own original music, obligations such as required military service prevented them from recording until July 1993, when a two-song promo tape was released. As Sahar’s first full demo, “Primitively Eastern Winds,” was subsequently recorded over two days in October of 1993 at Freeway Studio and released on cassette later that year, originally in 200 units. Additional copies were made to meet demand, and the demo sold almost 700 copies worldwide before later being re-released by Nebiula Productions. In the twenty-five years since its original distribution, “Primitively Eastern Winds” has mostly languished in obscurity, but Nuclear War Now! seeks to refocus deserved attention on it with this reissue on twelve-inch vinyl format with remastered audio by James Plotkin for optimal sound quality. The eight songs on this demo, including intro and outro, demonstrate the dominant influence of Nordic bands such as Burzum and Darkthrone as this Singaporean horde evolved further from its thrash metal roots. In particular, this recording bears similarities to Darkthrone’s output from that time, with perhaps the most obvious comparison being drawn to the style invoked on the necro black metal classic “Transilvanian Hunger,” which was actually released the following year. This partial resemblance aside, it would be an oversimplification to categorize “Primitively Eastern Winds” as a common clone of Nordic black metal. Instead, occasional but notable moments arise when melodic phrasings and other compositional elements hint at the musical traditions of the band’s far-removed location and other more disparate influences. In essence, this demo is the product of a period in black metal history in which geographic separation fostered somewhat divergent offshoots of a particular sound, each with its own unique variations and thus its own branch in the growing worldwide diaspora.
(Description by C. Conrad)