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Zenobia – Warriors Never Die Review

Viewing Palestinian folk songs through a modern lens for the dancefloor.

What does Zenobia sound like?

Palestinian heritage translated to the electronic dance floor.

The review of Zenobia – Warriors Never Die

After 2020’s Halak Halak which showcased Zenobia has a duo who know how to take Palestine to the club, their new EP ‘Warriors Never Die’ adds in guest vocalists. Four female singers join for a track each across this excellent EP, showcasing Palestinian women’s folk songs. These folk songs were originally sung about everyday personal events like love, marriage and a funeral but have taken on different meanings over the years.

photo of Zenobia

‘Tarweeda’ the opening track was used by women to send encrypted messages between political prisoners and their villages by rearranging the letters of the lyrics. It’s a mysterious mid-tempo throb of ambiguity where the vocals bleed in and out before transcendent synth naj/oud hybrid riffs drive the music home. ‘Ya Yuma’ is far more joyous as it’s a love song. Here, 90’s house influences are front and centre with bouncy organ basslines, single note stabs of keyboards and clean beats leading the way as the call and response of vocals and synths play out.

‘Olo La Emo’ is the track that sounds most devotional with warm chord progressions, soft vocals and a pause for thought before the electronica elements burst in. Whilst the original folk song was used for weddings to honour the groom, it is now a song performed for those killed in conflict. That leaves ‘Hayeed An El Jeshe’ – an ominous drone-led piece that feels dangerous and seductive in equal measure. The song tells a tale of a girl who refuses an arranged marriage and runs away with the man she loves. Rola Azar, Sama Shuhhok, Dunia Qarawany and Rina Kardosh all perform their vocals with emotion and intrigue and since Zenobia hasn’t really explored guest vocalists before, it really marks this EP out of their catalogue as a standout project.

‘Warriors Never Die’ is an excellent release. The addition of vocals and the reframed lens to view old folk songs really gives this release multiple layers to explore. It’s also still got that undeniable Zenobia beat and drive to it. The way they mesh Palestine’s musical roots into electronica still feels fresh, exciting and hypnotic. This is the perfect EP whilst they work on their 2014 album. (Note: I bought this from Bandcamp and the songs are tagged in a different order to the tracklisting.)

Recommended track: Tarweeda

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Zenobia - Warriors Never Die



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