Travel Writing by Cory Hanson

Writing Music: Abdullah

Some writers require absolute silence to be at their best. I don’t know how they do it.

Whenever I’m working at my computer — writing, editing, putting together social media posts, killing time on Reddit, whatever — I have to have some tunes in my ears. Recently, it’s been video game soundtracks from the 16- and 32-bit era. No judgement, no shame.

But I’ve been looking to discover some new music for writing, and to give myself a reason to actively listen to these new sounds. And thus, this ongoing project was born: a weekly series about the new music I’m discovering, with embedded players to legally listen along with me and support the artists when possible.

For guidance at the beginning of this project, I’m turning to the 2003 edition of The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal by Daniel Bukszpan. (You can check out the revised and updated edition here.) This record-sized, full-color tome is an A–Z of heavy metal artists from the obscure to the overexposed, from sixties stoners to Satanist sex gods to whatever the heck GWAR is, this book covers a strong sampling of metal’s best — at least until the year 2003 (sorry, new breakout bands like Mastodon, you’ll have to wait for the updated edition).

The Band

First up, relatively unknown Cleveland-based combo Abdullah. As Bukszpan writes, singer Jeff Shirilla “steered clear of the genre’s Cookie Monster–like growling, opting for a clean vocal style instead.”

On listening to their first EP Snake Lore (1999), I get shades of 90s heavy alternative, particularly in the very, very Stone Temple Pilots-y “The Path to Enlightenment.”

On their second, self-titled album (2001), the sounds of doom metal emerge in full bloom on tracks like “Bones & Ashes.”

2002’s Graveyard Poetry has a few kickin’ throwback tracks on offer, like the echoes of Judas Priest head in “Deprogrammed.”

The Bottom Line

Lost to obscurity, with a raw sound that at times struggles to find a metal genre — not that that’s a bad thing — Abdullah has a few gems worthy of your attention and your metal playlists.

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