I came across this project a couple of years ago and it happened because of themes of Barzel that provoked huge discussions here and there throughout the internet. As a matter of fact I was rather surprised too because this artist from USA, armed with pro-zionistic ideas, side by side with all the other politically oriented projects in the power electronics scene, takes a rather unique position. This album (amalek of all the many meanings it has, also means enemies of the Israel) “Born to Destroy Amalek” is the latest release of his, made on Israeli based label Topheth Propheth. It is the second album in the discography of the artist and it took five years to complete it since the debut one. It’s not new that releases that deal with extreme political attitudes are often depreciated “in principle” or so. I am not jewish and I will never fully understand the idea spreaded by Barzel, but by that what I see and what I hear, I can form an opinion that it is clearly fullfilled – beginning with the design of this album (the cover leaves no questions) and ending with almost full hour of hateful odes of power electronics, dedicated to enemies of Israel and to Israel itself. The sounds that I hear here are more dark philosophical thoughts than plain and straightforward brutality. The most aggressive song is “Born to Destroy Amalek”. Under thick shell of noises the title of the song is repeated like a mantra over and over again. In the very end of this song the sound becomes calmer and ends with several layers of samples and one unbinding phrase – “And the war went on”. Everything else in this album – gloomy visions, rich with samples, mostly from speeches and reports with the main idea – revenge. For the biggest part the mood itself is created because of these samples because the vocal is not used in so many songs. E.g. the song “Ha’ Shomer (The Guard)”. The sound – pulsating synth and two samples being braided on top of it. Two eyes for an eye, teeth for a tooth… Another such example – the last song in the album – “We Shall Wash Our Feet In The Blood Of The Wicked”. On moody musical/noisy background one idea is declared that the revenge is an important value. And yes, I wouldn’t like to describe one and every piece in this album – it is a bunch of dismal incitement for revenge, wishes of strength to Israel, slow, dark songs, from time to time dissecting ears with noisy salvos. Non typical, good and really powerful album the idea of which I see fully completed.
Written by Simon Collins
Power electronics is always highly aggressive, angry music, but it’s quite rare for that anger to be focused into a coherent ideological programme beyond the moral nihilism and misogyny which many power electronics acts indulge in. The New York-based project Barzel is a notable exception to this general rule, declaiming “Enemies of ZOG Beware!”, offering “Industrial Strength Zionism” and advocating a radical pro-Israeli stance. Born To Destroy Amalek is Barzel’s second album, following their debut release A Shield Of Defense And The Word Of The Son of Blood, also on Israeli label Topheth Prophet. ‘Amalek’ is a name traditionally used to refer to enemies of the Jewish people. Barzel’s MySpace page carries quotations from Meir Kahane, who, for those who don’t know, was an American rabbi, founder of the Jewish Defence League, and who held ultra-Zionist views which made him, roughly speaking, the Jewish equivalent of Ian Paisley.
It’s only fair to point out that I personally do not share Barzel’s pro-Zionist stance – like most of the people who stand outside this particular arena of conflict, I see wrongs being perpetrated by both Palestinians and Israelis in what seems like an endless cycle of violence and retribution. I spent some time in Israel in the early 90s, during the Intifada, and I’ve never seen so many guns in my life. So, having noted where Barzel is coming from, ideologically speaking, I’ll confine myself to talking about the music, which probably makes me a wimp and a coward, but hey, I’ll probably get a pro-Palestinian release to review next week, so I’d like to preserve some neutrality.
Born To Destroy Amalek contains ten tracks, weighing in at 56 minutes. After ‘Zion Ascendant’, a brief intro using vocal samples, the listener is pitched headlong into the
rumbling flamethrower gouts of combative noise and ear-splitting high frequencies of ‘Through Clouds Of Fire’. ‘Lone Wolves Of Zion’ is more restrained and minimal, with a chopping helicopter-like pulse rhythm providing a backdrop for heavily distorted vocals. The title track ‘Born To Destroy Amalek’ follows, with the title repeatedly spat out through a barrage of noise and feedback – a convincingly belligerent track, although British listeners are apt to find that a distorted mechanical voice shouting “Destroy!” conjures images of Daleks, rather than Israelites! ‘Ha’Shomer (The Guard)’ offers a quiet place of respite, with vocal samples arranged over a background drone: “Two eyes for an eye, teeth for a tooth.” ‘New Sicarii’, the longest track at over eight minutes, opens with what sounds like extremely distorted bass guitar, before moving into rhythmic loops of penetrating mid-frequency tones and corrosive buzzing. ‘Victory’ is an echo-filled composition of bass rumbles and vocal samples, ‘This Land Is Our Land (Greater Israel)’ overlays incessant loop rhythms with harsh, jagged eruptions of vocals and deep throbs, and ‘One Truth, Not Two’ returns to a more typical power electronics sound, with daunting sheets of textural noise and vocal samples. The album closes with ‘…We Shall Wash Our Feet In The Blood Of The Wicked’”, a lengthy piece which harks back to the restrained drones of ‘Ha’Shomer (The Guard)’.
Overall, Born To Destroy Amalek is an above average release, varied enough to sustain interest and with righteous anger to burn, with ‘Through Clouds Of Fire’ and ‘New Sicarii’ being the highlights of the set. It’s likely to find favour in the power electronics scene regardless of its political message. People who enjoy Slogun, Con-Dom, Fire In The Head, Streicher, Grunt or Sektion B will enjoy Barzel as well. The album comes in a nice matt-finish softpack, with a front-cover image of a muscular arm wielding a sword in defence of the Star of David. Copies ordered directly from Topheth Prophet also come with a bonus 3” disc containing one extra track.
For those of you not in “the know” Barzel is a extremist Zionist power electronics unit twisting the more traditional conservative white power extremist stance that many pe projects espouse and putting his own Jewish Orthodox spin on things. This album comes at an interesting time to me as I just finished watching the film “Paradise Now” about 2 suicide bombers on the Palestinian side of things and the issues they faced while deciding their own fate. Now I get a taste of the “occupiers” side of things and it seems a bit harsh.
The general sound here is quite a lo-fi one, but there’s a lot of open space and room to breath in this recording which you don’t find as often in lo-fi recordings like this. The material in parts is as minimalist as the great power electronics project Death Squad, but at other times like in “Victory” I am reminded more of Morder Machine, good company for sure.
There are 10 tracks that make up Born to Destroy Amalek and I enjoy every one just fine. Some of the shorter tracks which feature political spoken word samples are mixed a bit too loud and the editing is somewhat shoddy on them, but they break things up and offer a little more depth to the concept so I tend not to mind them too much. The great thing about Born to Destroy Amalek is that it offers a good balance between pure power, harshness, and stranger more creative experimental styles which add much unique flavor to the album and make it more then just another pure pe release.
Probably the track that stands out the most due to the strange sounds is “This Land Is Our Land (Greater Israel)” which features a strange little repeating synth loop combined with yelled/almost whispered vocals, blasts of white noise, and a gurgling synth. The elements almost don’t even seem to match but there’s a few moments in Born to Destroy Amalek in which this is the case so it ties into the rest of the album succinctly.
As far as pure power goes the mark is hit in the title track “Born to Destroy Amalek” with the vocals just being very passionate and the noise which meshes together with competency being quite dynamic and varied. “New Sicarii” is yet another powerful track with strange alternating currents humming in a semi-rhythmic fashion to form a thick wall of hate.
The great thing about Born to Destroy Amalek is that it easily culls multiple listens with it’s variety of sounds and diversity of styles. I’m not really into the concepts as much here but they are presented with taste and focus both of which I can appreciate. As my first exposure to Barzel I am pleasantly satisfied and will be keeping an eye out for further propaganda issued by this artist.
“And lo! On the eighth day God said ‘I perceive that it’s much too quiet around here…’ and so he divined that he should createth some noise. And lo! To cover up the quiet, God created he him Barzel. Perceiving Barzel and his works, God saith; “I have given life to Barzel to cover the quiet with noise, and I perceive that it is GOOD noise!’”
Indeed, judging from this latest opus from the Israeli noise-maker, he is also God’s appointed archangel of sonic destruction, laying to waste the enemies of the Chosen People through his solid barrages of sound. Regardless of how you view the merits or otherwise of Zionism or the tortured politics of the Near East, it’s undeniable that the sheer force of this album is built upon the ‘industrial strength Zionism’ that informs every piece on here. In my experience it’s apparent that Israel is a veritable hotbed of PE creativity, whether motivated by politics or not, and where it IS utilised in such material the passions engendered lend such outbursts an angry urgency in a very similar way that many acts harness the anger at both the perceived and apparent injustices of the Western world in their musical rants. What is immediately obvious here though is that Barzel manages to successfully marry his politico-religious views with a keen sense of composition and a feel for sound and the way it should be used to best effect.
In other words this isn’t just a simple case of all-out ear-raping noise just for the sake of it or for it to merely act as an incidental backdrop to vehemently spat out distorted vocals – instead Barzel has carefully constructed the platform from which to launch his vituperative attacks, and he has done so with a very obvious craft. While still making use of the flesh-grinding, skin-blistering, and brain-mushing sheets of angry grating machine noise and granularity, tethered to explosions and detonations of shockwave sound, creating the impression of massed aerial engines and weapons of war ranged on the field of battle, that constitute much of this genre, Barzel has nonetheless been careful to shape the sounds, so that while the anger and venom blast through easily enough, it isn’t a constant searing noise – I could even say that these approach being ‘proper’ songs.
Take a song like ‘Through Clouds of Fire’ as an example; sheets of cleansing fire billow outwards, singeing and blistering all within reach, exemplified by bursts of grainy detonations and their aftermaths, the searing heat roiling out in furnace intense heat-waves; aided and abetted by a piercing anguished scream of pain riding the billows, pain that is both descriptive of spiritual pain and also the righteous pain of an angered deity. All that remains of the battlefield is a smoking stench-ridden desert, where not even the carrion birds dare to venture. The title track ‘Born to Destroy Amalek’ (a reference to a tribe of peoples that the Biblical King David waged war against) doesn’t really leave much doubt as to what its intentions are; nuclear Armageddon and radioactive obliteration until nothing is left, plain and simple, and all suggested by the use of battering blankets of gritty noise and machine rumbles, overlaid with malice-soaked vocals. Likewise, the closing track, the eight minute ‘We Shall Wash our Feet in the Blood of the Wicked’, which is as quiet as it gets on here, proclaims “Revenge is an important value, the Talmud says that it is one of the greatest things: revenge is great” set against a stuttering rhythmical rasping beat underpinning a sinister hair-raising swathes of organ and echoed with what sounds like voices raised in shouted protest.
What I think of the sentiments expressed here is actually irrelevant, but I will admit to having certain reservations; however for the purposes of this review, whether I agree or disagree is not the issue and I remain strictly neutral. Indeed, the contents are almost telegraphed defiantly from the front of the striking cover (a hand grasping an upraised sword within a Star of David); no-one can accuse this of being shy about shouting from the rooftops, so if your sensibilities are easily offended or outraged, then stay firmly away. This is indeed militant and right up in-your-face close, brooking no argument; in fact you can probably feel its white-hot furnace-breath on your face it’s that close. On a purely superficial, and aesthetic, level (and ignoring the political), this grabs me by the balls and shakes me until my brains bleed – and for that reason alone I like it. I am walking a tightrope by declaring that, but from the point of view of the music itself, I stand by it.
Born to Destroy Amalex is a Molotov cocktail of Death Industrial, power electronics and brooding/ grim atmospherics littered for military/religious dialogue samples.
This is this New York based projects second releases of what they call ‘Industrial Strength Zionism’ and It brought most to mind a more subdued, sample based and bleak ambient take on their noisy and roaring Israel label mate’s lietterschpich. This is a sonic landscape were jagged and dusty noise infected beats shimmer and sting with ominous and bleak oily synth melodies. Barked/ distorted and angered vocals pin you against the wall. To calmer but just as sick and hopeless lo-fi drones and desert machine gunned ambience slips and ebbs like mournful and quietly angry solider- as looped military/ religious text samples are circled. There’s a nice selection of pace of track through-out and while this is not the most original thing your likely to stumble across its effective, brutal and not with out it’s own atmosphere and identity.
Another worthwhile release from this Israel based label, This time expanding their catchment area beyond the middle east, but still keeping with-in the labels Firey remit.