SLAYER Guitarist, Jeff Hanneman, Passes Away

At the Age of 49

NIGHTWISH To Perform In Beirut

At Byblos Film Festival

Interview With Hadi Sarieddine

From Benevolent.



LARS ULRICH Offers Update

On METALLICA's Next Album


June 7th

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Here's a new metal band fresh out of Dubai, with a couple of familiar faces. Founded by drummer Muhammad Jaber (Chalice of Doom) and  guitarist Monish Shringi (Voice of the Soul), Verdict has one hell of a debut show: opening up for Vader at Metal East Fest on March 6th. Metality writer Habib had a chat with Muhammad about Verdict, comparing Jordan's scene with Dubai's, and what we can expect from the band in the near future.

Habib: Verdict is a new band from Dubai. How did you guys come together?

Muhammad Jaber: 

First of all I would like to thank the team of Metality for the support, it means a lot for us.

 It started in the late of 2014 when I spoke to Monish the guitarist of the Lebanon-Dubai band Voice of The Soul about starting a new project together , later on we got together with talented musicians which they are Ahmad Gameel on guitar and Sabtain Sharif on bass guitar, which eventually led to writing originals and starting a new project titled “Verdict”. 

What are your musical influences?

Musical influences would be many from oriental scales to uprising grooves. We have a quite diverse musical impact, since mostly each member brings something different to the table along with different influences and ideas.

How would you describe a song by Verdict?
Since all the members are influenced differently, music wise as well as lyric wise a typical verdict song can go in any direction. It can have djent, technical riffs or folk oriented patterns as the diversity is quite vast which opens gates to new sounds.

You have played in Jordan before with Chalice of Doom and you’ve experienced the scene there. How does the scene in the UAE differ from that in Jordan?


Chalice of Doom is one of the bands that I will always be proud to be a part of it, as its the same thing for the Jordanian scene which is a lot different than the scene in UAE 

in UAE the opportunities for the musicians is unlimited where they can start their own projects without having that idea that they might go to jail for playing their kind of Metal music, plus the fans of metal music in UAE have the choice to attend 1 to 2 gigs every month unlike in Jordan which it is difficult for us to make Metal concerts in Jordan because our society has this wrong idea about Metal music in general which makes it harder for the musicians in Jordan to make their own projects. I hope that will change someday.

Metal East Fest is organized by JoScene and Metal East Records
Are we going to hear your original material in your debut show at Metal East Fest (headlined by Vader) next month? 

Definitely, we are going to play 4 original songs to play for in Metal East Fest next month along with 1 cover.

Any hints on when we can expect some original material online for us to hear?

All I can say is that we are going to start recording after this event .

Any last words for Metality's readers?

We as musicians and as a band together are trying our best not to stay in a comfort zone, which means we are up to challenge ourselves in beating our own expectations. We are extremely excited to play and show what we have prepared to everyone to hear. 

Stay connected with Verdict:


You’re playing at Resurrection Dubai in March. It’s been a while since your last show. How do shows in Dubai differ from those in Bahrain?

Yeah it's been a while. Last time we played in Dubai was along with Melechesh and Nothnegal.
Shows in Dubai are usually the same as Bahrain. It's the same atmosphere with the same type of music. The crowd interaction might be a little weaker compared to Bahrain but it is more or less the same.

You guys are working on your new album: what can the fans expect? Will there be any major differences in the sound or style from the previous two albums?

Yes! We are working on our third album. It does sound different from our previous album I, Devourer in terms of how the music tends to progress in a way but still maintains the same SIF signature style. I'll leave that for the fans to decide which might be very soon.

Any news on the release date of the album?

Not yet. It's not that easy to write and gather ideas when you have three out of five members working in shift patterns. But nevertheless, we are aiming towards the end of this year.

What are your lyrical and musical influences?

With this album it's safe to say that there are a lot of death metal influences especially old school death metal and lyrically we are drawing a lot from real life experiences and lots of darker themes.

You’ve been around since 2005. How have things changed in Bahrain’s metal scene since then?

It has changed a lot since 2005. I can proudly say that Bahrain's metal scene has grown bigger and raised its standards through the last 10 years. With the ease of recording and promoting through the Internet, it's much easier for bands to spread their name and music around.

Resurrection Dubai is by Resurrection Events


What are some of your favorite metal bands from the Middle East?
Creative Waste, Scarab, Lunacyst, Motor Militia, Kaoteon, Deathless Anguish, Perversion.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect of being an extreme metal band in this region?
The problems we face are most probably finding shows on a regular basis. Unlike Dubai, it's kind of difficult to organize a metal show in Bahrain because of the lack of venues that would accept that kind of event and the strict rules against metal.

Which other bands are you looking forward to hearing at Resurrection Dubai?
All of them really. We've heard some of Devoid's songs and those guys seem pretty tight. We heard some good stuff from people who have seen them performing.

Any words of advice for people who want to start a band in the region?
Just play music you truly love and not  do something you're not enjoying
Because in the end metal is about expression and release, so don't worry about making it big
Because being successful in  music is just playing music. Always get involved and support your peers and help the metal community thrive in this region because we have some amazing musicians and people with amazing talents and need a chance to be part of this .

Is there anything you would like to add for Metality's readers?
Come down and check us out and the rest of the bands destroy the stage and support your local scene. You don't want to miss this event!
Stay connected with Smouldering in Forgotten


Here's a new band to make its way from the UAE. Kaihon consists of guitarists Bam Farra (Apeira, Voice of the Soul) and Jude Mascarenhas, as well as vocalist Lalit Mehta who sang in India-based electro-metal band Frequency. They put out a lyric video for their single Pathological out on Rolling Stone India, and it sounds pretty killer. Pathological was mixed and mastered by Keshav Dhar (Skyharbor) at Illusion Studios in India.

Pathological shows tons of influences from modern metal bands, but isn't short of awesome lead guitar work. It's a fast, in-your-face track that we really enjoyed listening to.

While we all anticipate future announcements, check out debut single Pathological below.



Band: Trepalium
Album: Damballa's Voodoo Doll
Genre: Groove Progressive Death Metal
Country: France
Release Date: February 9th 2015
Label:  Klonosphere/Season of Mist
Reviewer: Ziad Gadou
France is no stranger to the world of metal innovation. From Gojira and Nightmare to Alcest and Loudblast, France has spared nothing in its grandiose range of artists. The Poitou-Charentes’ “Trepalium” provide an explosive, relatable take on the 1930’s boogie feel of swing jazz.  Two installments and almost a hundred shows instilled this band in the underground extreme French metal scene. They have opened for numerous international festivals and played alongside bands like Aborted, Behemoth, Malevolent creation and Krisiun. 

Trepalium’s fifth installment, Damballa's Voodoo Doll is nothing short of class. “Moonshine Limbo” is a margin-defining track to the band’s direction of sound in the album. The dynamic groovy introduction riff will have your head banging and fingers snapping instantaneously. As the growls escalate in pitch and the riffs converge to a darker tone, “Damballa’s Voodoo Doll” takes you through an angry road filled with poly-rhythmic mishaps. “Blowjob on the Rocks” is easily the greatest title for a song I have ever come across. Every track lays down its story and prepares you for the next track with an unparalleled elegance. 

If I could sum up this album it would be in this question.
Have you ever wondered how Pantera would sound like if they played progressive jazz and had Randy Blythe as their vocalist? Fear no more, Trepalium has arrived to answer that very question.
Don’t let the tuxedoes and the saxophones confuse your basic metal instincts. These bad boys will rock your top hat off, probably your mustache too.  


Listen to Moonshine Limbo: 


Album: Garden of Dystopia
Band: Divine Disorder
Release Date: November 3rd, 2014
Label: Inazuma Productions
Reviewer: Habib Tabaja

Powerful, heavy, melodic, and spun with an air of dark intrigue and fantasy, the debut album “Garden of Dystopia” by Kuwait-based band Divine Disorder is a killer album.  Metal fans who lived in Kuwait will recognize a few of them  played for disbanded industrial metal band Positive Poison (Ed's note: major throwback). Featuring a wide array of guest musicians, the album pushes the envelope even further for metal in the Middle East. The album was mixed by Jens Bogren of Fascination Street Studios and was mastered by Brett Caldas-Lima of Tower Studio. Suffocation’s Kevin Talley plays the drums on this album. 

The opening track “Pandora’s Codex” opens with beautiful violins and choir vocals which build up to a heavy start with torrential drums, and an awesome guitar solo by Christofer Malmstrom of Darkane. Clean vocals by George Eliassen are also featured on this track. The following song “Children of Menace” is of even a heavier caliber as it boasts a Death Metal-style opening complete with heavy riffs and drumming, paired with cool synths and epic choir vocals. Karl Sanders of Nile lays down a brilliant solo in the second half of it, and it is a song worth headbanging to, even as it slows down towards its end.  

Another track worthy of note is “The Arcanist”, an even more dystopian and melodic track full of malefice, which has two brilliant guitar solos, the first by the late Shane Gibson (Korn) and the second by Karl Sanders. The drums on this track are particularly wonderful, and its ending is quit eerie. If there is one track with a memorable opening riff on this album, it would be “The Puppeteer”. Another powerful song with an emphasis on drumming, riffs, and growls, and also has clean vocals by Norwegian musician Dan-Elias Brevig
The 8th song on the album, “Animus” has some killer vocals, synth, and guitars, and features a guitar solo by Achokarlos  and the input of a cool instrument called the Theremin, operated by Kip RosserErez Yohanan also does Sound FX on this track. The 11th and final track “Rusted Libra” is the lengthiest on the album, playing out over 9 minutes of the sound that defines Divine Disorder’s Orchestral Death Metal style and approach to music. It features the clean vocals of Egan O’Rourke (Daylight Dies) and Dan-Elias Brevig, as well as the narration of Carlos Alvarez. It also has two great guitar solos by Yossi Sassi (Orphaned Land) and Gus Drax, in addition to a Duduk solo by Gevorg Dabaghyan and a violin solo by Elle Torry. It is a beautiful ending to a great album.

On a sad note, Korn guitarist Shane Gibson, who contributed to this album, never got to see it in its fully-produced form before his passing in April 2014. It is a great additon to the list of works that would immortalize him as a talented and brilliant musician.

This 11-track album is definitely a treat for lovers of various genres of metal, from Death Metal to Power Metal. The cover art by Strychneen Studios also fits directly into the album’s lyrical themes. It has great work on the production and getting all these musicians together in what seems to resemble more the work of a supergroup than it does that of a band. Divine Disorder (as well as their guest musicians) have surely outdone themselves and defined a new sound for the region’s emerging metal scene.

Stay connected with Divine Disorder


Bahrain-based Resurrection Events is organizing Resurrection Metal Night for the first time in Dubai. The event will be at the Music Room in the Majestic Hotel Bur Dubai on Friday the 13th of March. The gig will feature several of the region’s various metal and rock bands: Creative Waste (Saudi Arabia), Devoid (India), Stigmata (Sri Lanka), Smouldering in Forgotten (Bahrain), and Maticrust (Philippines).

Hailing from the region’s most underground scene, Creative Waste from Saudi Arabia will bring their grindcore sound to the heart of Dubai. India’s Devoid, who play a blend of Thrash and Death Metal and have recently released a new single from their upcoming album, are sure to bring further musical chaos to the Music Room. Stigmata, one of Sri Lanka’s heavy metal veterans, will also be taking part in this remarkable event. Also, one of the region’s most extreme bands, Smouldering in Forgotten from Bahrain will add their Blackened Death Metal touch to the show. In addition, Filipino grindcore band Maticrust will put out some heavy tunes at the gig.

A truly unique show that features bands from diverse metal genres from all throughout the region will surely be well-liked by the Dubai metal scene. 

For more details, check out their Facebook event page.


Multi-media US-based Egyptian artist NADER SADEK has debuted the final track from The Malefic: Chapter III, Descent

Nader Sadek had this to say about the song: "Initially for 'Descent'  I had asked Rune Eriksen to write a song that would  be a sequel to " Nigredo in Necromance," a song from our first record, with the exception of a few spoken word lines, an instrumental .  What Rune presented us with was way beyond my expectations and hopes, Multi-layering gives depth and a sense of exploration in the emotion of tragedy and remorse. The structure of the song  also carries you all the way up to the crescendo and then drops; this technique is utilized several times in the song. With the help of Flo Mounier's [CRYPTOPSY] non-static drumming, textures come and go, further intensifying the song. During the mixing stage, we had decided that it would be criminal not to include Carmen's amazing chants, as well as several passages of vocals with Travis Ryan's [CATTLE DECAPITATION] and I. Andreas Kisser's [SEPULTURA] solos give the song an unexpected turn, extending and conjuring warm emotions from an unexpected style, yet fitting seamlessly. We all pitched in on certain aspects of the mix at the Helm of Bassist Martin Rygiel. 'Descent"' is the perfect closer to the demise of the story line, and marks this song as one of our most collaborative efforts." 

In other news, Nader Sadek will be performing at Neurotic Deathfest in Tillburg, Holland (April 17-19, 2015).

Listen to Descent through the Soundcloud player below. We had a listen, and it sounds nothing more than top-notch death metal!


Dubai hard rock band Point of View have once again been busy with renowned guitarist Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal. This year, they visited Bahrain, where they were invited to a guitar clinic and played a collaborative show with musicians from Bahrain's scene. They did the same in Dubai. Contributor Habib Tabaja caught up with Bumblefoot and Point of View vocalist Nik Uzi at the Classic Rock Coffee Shop.

Interview with Bumblefoot:

You’re back in the Middle East. What have you been up to this time?

I went to Bahrain. There’s a wonderful organization there called JamUp that invited us to their first series of events, where we went with them to an autism school and played for the kids. We did workshops, and there was a nice meet and greet at Virgin Megastore. About 200 people showed up and it was great. Then we had a great concert with my buddies at Point of View. We all played a nice show together with a bunch of local musicians from Bahrain. They are a fantastic bunch of people that I had the pleasure of jamming with. After that, we hopped on a plane here to Dubai and played an awesome show yesterday at The Fridge in al Quoz, and today we’re having this great hangout at the Classic Rock Coffee Shop.

Which Middle Eastern countries/cities have you not visited so far but would like to visit next?

It’s the kind of thing were you want to cover every part of the world. You want to go everywhere; everywhere you have been and everywhere you haven’t been to. There’s a definite pleasure in going to places for the first time, where you can make new friends and connections with musicians.
So where do I want to go that I haven’t been already? I don’t know. Call me crazy, but there are a lot of places that I want to go to where the trouble is nowadays, where the fighting is, where people can use music for a moment of relief. So we can give them a moment of something to carry through difficult times.

What do you think of the rock and metal scene here in the UAE and the region?

It’s there! As far as whatever the most popular music genre is in different times across the world, the rock and metal scene is always there. The musicians are always there; everyone finds each other. There are great musicians all over the place. For example, a metal band from Iran would reach out on Facebook and show me the stuff that they’re working on. It’s there, and it’s growing like it is everywhere else. There are always genuine metalheads in the Middle East as the rest of the world. It’s great to know that anywhere in the world you can have a “musical home”: people that you can bond with, who know the same songs as you do, and who always get each other. Music is universal, especially in that sense.

What can the fans expect for 2015? Are there any major projects that you are working on for that year?
Well, if I stick to the deadlines, my new album will be released on February 24th. I don’t even have a name for the new album yet. The mixes are almost done. There’s also a band that I produced, as a recording project, that’s turning into something more which is going to have a release next year. It’s called Art of Anarchy. That should be pretty interesting. We shot some videos for it. It’s going to be an interesting year, 2015, between Bumblefoot and Art of Anarchy and whatever else. I have some mini-tours coming up in February and March. I have some Thailand and UK shows. I have something at a guitar festival in France also. I’m also doing a rock school in the island of Corfu in Greece in August. People can come down to Corfu so I can torture them musically for a week! So we can work on music during the day, chill on the beaches in the afternoon, and then go to different pubs at night and jam. It’s going to be a busy year!

What’s so special about your own hot sauce?

There’s a combination of different flavors and ingredients in there and various levels of spiciness. The strongest one is called Bumblefucked. It contains ginger and tropical fruit. It also has ginseng and caffeine like an energy shot. One little drop of it will set you on fire for a good ten minutes!

Are any bands that have recently caught your attention?

One that’s really caught my attention is a band called Thank You Scientist. They are a phenomenal band. They touch every part of your being. Their music is intellectual, passionate, and melodic. It’s very interesting, and you can’t not like it! Great stuff. To me, that’s the best new band that I’ve heard.

Any words for the readers of Metality?

Thank you for reading this! I hope to get to see you someday. Enjoy 2015! 

Interview with Nik Uzi:

What are some of POV's plans for the near future? Are you guys working on a successor to Revolutionize the Revolutionary?

We’re working on the second album for sure. We have 11 songs ready, but we haven’t started recording. We feel that we haven’t read into the first album enough, even though we’ve sold more than 800 copies of it. We also missed out on an important thing, which is making good videos for the first album. So we want videos to be done for the first album, which will happen in the next two months. Simultaneously, we’ll start gently tracking the new album.

Tell us about what you and Bumblefoot have been up this time. Do you think he'll make an appearance on the new album?

There’s a lot going on between us and Bumblefoot. We’re looking to work more with him in the upcoming year. We’re planning more gigs for the Middle East and in other parts of Asia such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. He definitely is on the second album. He’s playing a guest track with us plus he appears in more than one song which is jointly composed by us. We are collaborating with him on a lot of other things as well. We’re working on some Bollywood projects together, which isn’t part of Point of View. He is like a mentor to us, and we love working with him. He’s going to be a prominent figure in Point of View's work, in anything and everything we do.
I mean, what’s the best you can do as a musician in Dubai eventually? You’ll play a few small gigs and then get an opening slot for some big festival somewhere in Abu Dhabi, and after that what? You’ll get some other small gigs again and that’s the end of the story. We really don’t want to restrict ourselves to this locale, even though the scene here is amazing. We want to grow, and for us to do that, we need to get out of the local scene. Bumblefoot is our opening connection to the West, and he shamelessly promotes us there to other big acts. He loves our music. We’re definitely going to seize the opportunity and see what we can do with this help that we have. He has plans for the West and Asia for us.

What can we expect from the new album? Any hints on a potential release date?

We’re looking at a second half of 2015 release for it. Our sound essentially is standard; it’s a heavy riff-driven guitar sound basically. So that characteristic will remain the same. The first album was rather political. It had a lot of songs about issues that people face in society. The new album is a bit more relaxed; it’s more about personal experiences, and the sounds are more diverse, ranging from alternative to grunge, but still retaining that heavy element to it. I think our style of writing is going to remain the same, although the subjects might change. It will still be that heavy-riff driven melodious album, with guitar solos and vocal melodies.

Any words for the readers of Metality?

Support the scene. I know this is said a lot of times, but after what I saw in Bahrain, I have to say it again. We played a gig in Bahrain yesterday for 800 people. There, we had people who were insisting on paying for the show even though they were offered to be on the guest list. I think that is something that needs to happen in the scene here in the UAE. People should support the local bands. People need to give up a little bit of money to go see a good band. Be true to your music, support the scene, and try to make some free time to go to shows instead of coming up with excuses like “I have a barbeque to go to today”. We need a genuine, supportive scene. In Bahrain, there were people willing to pay up to 250 dirhams for a guitar workshop, which is unheard of here. As far as Point of View goes, listen to our album and go check us out on social media and on our website If you like the music, don’t be ashamed to tell us that you like it. Come to our shows and tell us. Listen to good music; that’s what we are all about! Thank you! 


Dubai extreme metallers Voice of the Soul have today announced the release of their debut album which will be entitled 'Catacombs'. The album will be released via UK label Hell's Hammer & India's Transcending Obscurity on 27th March 2015

 First formed in Kuwait on the opposite side of the Persian Gulf in late 2007 17 year-old Kareem Chehayeb and 16 year-old Monish Shringi released their first EP, ‘Winds of Apprehension’ in July 2009 with second EP, ‘Eyes of Deceit’ seeking the light of day the following summer. After playing several shows in Dubai since January 2011, the band opted to relocate to the most popular city and emirate in the UAE before releasing their third EP, ‘Into Oblivion’, live on SOS Heavy Metal Radio in Portugal in August 2011. ‘Into Oblivion’ was undoubtedly the band's most successful record with songs receiving regular airplay across the globe.

During April 2014, the band made home at Haven Studio with producer Hadi Sarieddine in Dubai and recorded their debut full-length album ‘Catacombs’.

Kareem Chehayeb comments: "While the band started off as a straight up melodic death metal band, 'Catacombs' took on a different shift. The thrash has virtually disappeared from our sound on this album and riffs have some added 'colour' now which was inspired by bands like Opeth, Gojira, Daylight Dies, and various jazz bands that really inspired me to start writing metal again. 'Catacombs' also introduces occasional clean vocals, as well as more doom metal on some tracks."

The artwork (as seen above) was designed by Syrian Dubai-based artist Hamood Hallak of MHD Graphics, and was inspired by the concept of one of the tracks from the album called 'Pendulum'.

Kareem elaborates: "While it appears evident that there is a priest/figure leading sheep, the cliff that they are about to walk off is within the temple itself. We don’t specify whether it’s religious or not, because religion isn’t the sole focus. It’s political, it’s social."

‘Catacombs’ Track Listing
1) Desolation
2) Perpetual Deception
3) Pendulum
4) Quarantine
5) Cold Rupture
6) The Mist
7) Perdition
8) Defiled
9) Images Subside (Featuring Egan O'Rourke)

Stay connected with Voice of the Soul:


“When left alone, the forests renew themselves.
              When left alone, man improves himself, as well.” - Woods of Ypres

Not a lot of music speaks to me like that of Woods of Ypres. When I first heard the music of this Canadian band over 3 years ago as I was looking through YouTube for Doom Metal bands, I knew there was something great about them that I couldn’t find in most bands. However, I wasn’t such a huge fan of them until August 2013, when I had the time to finally listen to all of their discography over the span of two days. I was totally enthralled by the emotional and philosophical scope of their music. Most of that was achieved thanks to their frontman David Gold.

 To begin with, I didn’t really keep up with Woods of Ypres since I discovered them first on YouTube, so I didn’t hear of David’s passing on December 21, 2011. That was three years ago. Upon learning of his death after listening to their entire discography, especially after listening to Woods V: Grey Skies and Electric Light, a deep sense of grief and sorrow overwhelmed me. I didn’t know David personally (I wish I did), but the emotional impact that his music had on me and on my creative works was quite evident since then. From the heavy, doomy riffs of “Your Ontario Town Is a Burial Ground” and “Everything I Touch Turns to Coal” to the Atmospheric Black Metal spirit of “The Sea of Immeasurable Loss” and “The Sun Was In My Eyes”, David’s music always transports me to the woods of his native Ontario. Woods V, their last album, left a particular impact on me with its lyrics on life, death, society, and art. David’s minimalistic style of writing helped further the meaning of the lyrics he wrote.
  That being said, his music grows on you, especially if you are going through some emotional trouble or a breakup. He tells us not to depend on others for happiness, but only on ourselves; that we should not get attached to people or places because one day, losing them will devastate us. More importantly, he told us to seize the moment and enjoy life, to cherish our loved ones while they are still alive, and to follow our hearts’ passion instead of what society thinks we should do. I think David’s lyrics are poetry on their own despite them being so simple.

The fact that David journeyed to Kuwait and formed friendships with many people there, some of whom I am now friends with, could mean that he had somewhat of an influence on the Middle Eastern metal scene. I think if it weren't for me looking for YouTube covers of Woods of Ypres songs and finding Hadi Sarieddine's cover of "Finality", I wouldn't have discovered  the UAE metal scene and become immersed in it. Although his stay in Kuwait was rather brief, he wore a Kuwaiti flag patch on his jacket while performing in his final tour in Canada and the US to show his love for the country and its people. People who have met him say he was a down-to-earth, loving person who interacted closely with his fans.
I would like to say that I’m writing this because I felt I never had the chance to properly thank him, and even though he told us in his last album that “the dead are to be forgotten”, I believe we should not forget him because he lives on in his music with us and in all the souls he inspired. We are not mourning him, but we are celebrating his work and life.

With that, I would like to thank him for inspiring me and many others. I don't think words are enough to express how indebted I feel to this musician. Nevertheless, his legacy will live on in his timeless music, and continue to inspire many people. 

"The will to give
 There is no destination
 There is only the journey."  - Woods of Ypres, The Will to Give

By Habib Tabaja


UAE-based extreme prog-metallers Benevolent have released a video for The Collector off their full-length The Covenant (check out our review alongside Germany's Legacy Magazin. It looks (and sounds) pretty killer! ex-Chimaira drummer Andols Herrick handled drums for the album, and it was mastered by TesseracT's Acle Kahney. Check out the video below!

Stay connected with Benevolent:
Big Cartel


Band: Skyharbor
Album: Guiding Lights
Genre: Progressive Metal
Release Date: November 10, 2014
Label: Basick Records
Reviewer: Hashim AlNasser

Skyharbor are no strangers to the metal world. What started a project of guitarist Keshav Dhar back in 2010, it attracted the attention of TesseracT vocalist Daniel Tompkins and drummer Anup Sastry (Jeff Loomis) and having released their debut album 'Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos' back in 2011, time has seen them grow to opening for Lamb of God in India, Euroblast, Download as well as awards for Best Song, Best Album and Best Band at Rolling Stone India Metal Awards and a nomination for Global Metal Band at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods.

Released on the 10th of November 2014, their  sophomore album 'Guiding Lights' is a truly captivating listen from beginning to end.  Kicking off the album with purpose, the aptly named 'Allure' sets the perfect tone for the album, reintroducing their beautifully textured and melodic sound but with a difference. Completely funded by fans on a PledgeMusic campaign, Guiding Lights goes on to display the band's sound develop to more ambient passages, shying from their debut albums more riff-centric sound. 

Displaying the bands vast range of capabilities, I was particularly captivated by 'Guiding Light's musical composition. Skyharbor's development on themes and seamless transitions between hard-hitting rhythms and soaring tones had me listening intently. I absolutely loved the guitar work on this album, exploring the numerous dynamics of the instrument, (not to mention the truly inspirational solos) they alongside Daniel Tompkins' vocal ability make them a match made in melody. Backed by the tight bass work of Krishna Jhaveri and technically proficient grooves of Anup Sastry, Skyharbor are a musical force to be reckoned with and Guiding Lights is proof of that.

Produced by Australian producer Forrester Savell (of Karnivool and Animals as Leaders fame), the album definitely has a sound that almost completely wraps around you, guiding you throughout the album on an hour long musical feast. An album definitely worth setting time out of your day to listen to from beginning to end!

Check out Skyharbor's beautiful video for Patience off Guiding Lights!


Woccon is a band I stumbled upon a few months ago and were immediately etched in my memory. I grew up listening to tons of melodic death metal, but I haven't heard many news bands in that "sub genre" that have made such a huge impact as Woccon. Woccon just put out a new album called Solace in Decay (which I'll be posting a review of very soon!), but I wanted to get to know the man behind the music. Frontman Tim Rowland had a lot to say, about his writing approaches and musical even the video games he seems to really enjoy spending his time playing.  Check out my conversation with Rowland below.

Kareem CHey Tim! How’s it going?

Tim Rowland: Extremely awful, and by that I mean very well.

Solace in Decay is out, and it sounds massive. How has the album been received so far?

The fans seem to have nothing but overwhelmingly positive words about it, as well as the publications so far. Sometimes, I wonder if people are exaggerating. All in all, I'm content with the response.

What were the song-writing and recording processes like for the album? How did it differ from previous releases?

Well, it didn't differ from the previous releases in recording terms because again, we did it independently and by our own resources. I've just developed a better instinct for it. I still have a lot to learn, but I really enjoy being in control of engineering and producing myself. The songwriting process was more a mixed bag in comparison to The Wither Fields. Some tracks like Behind the Clouds and And The World Wept were written almost entirely in Guitar Pro before being recorded; sitting at a computer, staring at tabs and sheet music with a guitar in hand. There were also a few tracks written in that way that weren't used because sometimes it's hard to judge how it will really sound when recorded. But mostly I write as I record. That's what works best for me.

Also being a fan of Daylight Dies and noticing similar sonic resemblances in Woccon’s music, I noticed that their guitarist Barre Gambling was also involved in Solace in Decay. Tell us more about that and how that collaboration went.

After the album was completely finished, I felt like there needed to be an intro track and I wasn't sure how to go about it. By that point, we had no guest spots fulfilled as we initially wanted, so I came up with the idea of having something different than just featuring a guest vocalist on a track. So I contacted Barre, which I've had a developing friendship with, and asked him if he was interested in composing a piece to introduce the album. So he agreed and sat with the album for a while to receive the right vibe from it. He had the idea of doing something almost symphonic and keyboard heavy and sent several ideas with just the keys and a lead guitar until we decided on which way to take it. Then I had the challenge of trying to transition it into a full band effort which took a few failed attempts until we got it right. We traded ideas back and forth and gave opinions until it was finished, basically. It took many forms before it reached the finished product. I'm very happy with how the intro turned out. It's nice and epic. I would've never taken it there if it weren't for Barre.

Being a multi-instrumentalist, where do you usually start when you write music? Is it a particular guitar riff or lick, or a drum beat?

I usually start with a guitar, coming up with a simple lead idea or rhythm, but it feels more like two guitar parts in unison. It's almost a push and pull from lead to rhythm. Let's say I scratch record a rhythm idea I like, then I'll come up with a lead that begs the rhythm to change a certain way to give the piece a snug fit. It can go back and forth for a while until I have a section I feel content with, all the while I have drums in my head as this process builds. That's why I'll record rhythmic fills on a guitar before we ever actually get to drums. I know what I want the drums to do at a certain spot. It's usually piece by piece until a song is about finished, then I go back and work on better ways to transition from one part to the next. Oh, and most importantly, a metronome is always used in this process. I'm never without a click track from beginning to end.

Having listened through Solace in Decay, would it be safe to say that you’re into Daylight Dies and Insomnium? What other bands would you say influence Woccon’s material?

Well, let's be honest here. I'll credit Daylight Dies as one of the initial sparks that motivated me to write in this way at the beginning, but I'd like to think I've evolved more out of that with Solace In Decay. Of course that artistic influence will always be there in some fashion, so I'm entirely ok with getting that comparison, but I feel like emotions of despair and melancholy can be attributed to more than just a band comparison. When I reflect a certain way, this is just how my brain produces it. As for Insomnium, they've never been a big influence on me personally, though I like them and respect what they've achieved. We've just gotten lumped in with them so I ran with it. I'm not gonna tell you what other bands influence me, because I don't consciously know. It just seeps out into the music I guess. I'll tell you what bands I DO like to listen to the most and people can be the judge. I have listened and still listen to a lot of KatatoniaOpeth, Daylight Dies, Anathema, ShiningAlcestDeftones, Misery Signals, Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree, and more under the radar bands like Acacia, The Fall of Every SeasonAtten Ash, and Vali. I've just listed the bands that could be deemed similar. I listen to much more outside of this realm.

What are some of the lyrical themes in Solace in Decay?

Some of it could be considered a continuation of The Wither Fields, while others are inspired by completely non-doom subjects. There are lyrics about personal struggles and how helpless we can sometimes feel in certain negative situations. There are also lyrics more story based; inspired by an lesser known animated show I like. There's even a song throwing back to the anti-civilization roots of our first demo. It's really all over the place. Instead of forcing cliche themes, I chose to do whatever truly inspired me at the time, but it's still on the darker side of things. 

Are there any shows or tours lined up to promote the album?

Nothing is lined up at the moment. We've gotten a few offers, but had to turn em down due to personal reasons or it just wouldn't work. We're still trying to figure out how we should develop that side of things in the correct way, especially now that something new is brewing. We will always do what's best for us in the end.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not busy with Woccon or with your day job?

I spend most of my free time writing and recording music actually. It's important to me to work harder these days at honing in my skills with writing, recording and mixing. I have a few new things in development, alongside new Woccon music. Other than that, I do a lot of graphic design, both freelance or for my own projects and I enjoy my fair share of video games. Drinking and watching sports is also fun to do with friends. I played a lot of tennis and disc golf back when it wasn't so damn cold. Every now and then I'll get obsessed with reading or studying something. It comes and goes. The more recent obsession for me was WWII history. Oh, and I watch a lot of stand up comedy too. Louis CK, Bill Burr and Norm Macdonald are my favorites.

What bands/songs have been on your playlist lately? Also, what kind of music do you enjoy listening to when you take a break from metal?

The last thing I listened to before this interview was the new Bloodbath album. Before that was probably At The Gates' new album. Both were great, but not ones I will constantly spin most likely. When I'm not listening to metal, which is becoming more common these days, I listen to all kinds of stuff. Whatever suits the mood. Anything by Akira Yamaoka, who did all of the Silent Hill music, is always perfect for any mood, because he'll drag me to that place of despondency in an instant. I listen to neo-folk stuff like Vali and Wood Ox when I'm working on graphic art usually. I need something calm to keep my sanity in check when I'm doing tedious stuff like that. I have developed a weird enjoyment of smooth jazz recently, which is kinda embarrassing. It started long ago as a joke, but then I find myself coming back to it for some reason. Maybe one day Woccon will have the funds to get a guest spot from Kenny G. HAHA Cinematic music is good stuff too. My favorite soundtrack of all time is for the movie, Glory, compose by James Horner.  I enjoy the occasional outlaw country by Johnny Cash or Hank III as well. And let's not forget Rush.

You must have been asked this many times, but with the owl in your logo and the band’s name stemming from a Native American tribe, how do they shape the band’s identity and lyrical themes (assuming that they do)?

They don't. The owl was shaped by what the music represents and the name was just carried over from the demo era into the doom era. We were gonna change the name because it didn't make sense with what we're doing now, but just never did and I'm perfectly fine with that outcome. No disrespect to the once Native tribe.

If you could tour with any band which one would it be and why?

Wow. This is hard. If it had to be someone we would be comfortable knowing we could fit with, it would probably be Opeth. I'd think of that as more strategic. If it didn't matter whether we fit or not, probably something absurdly out of left field and legendary like Prince.

Videogames? What have you been playing?

Where do I begin? For the past couple of years, I've almost switched all of my gaming exclusively to the PC. I keep tabs on Steam sales constantly. For my mmorpg fix I play a lot of Wildstar. I'm usually not the type to get obsessed with mmos, but that game did it for me. I never got into World of Warcraft or anything like that. The mmo I played before Wildstar was Lord of the Rings Online. I enjoyed exploring Middle-Earth. Minecraft is another one I've played off and on for a few years now. That game continues to surprise me. For my competitive shooter fix, I play Rising Storm/Red Orchestra 2. Perfect game with the right amount of realism and scale for me. I'm getting tired of the whole twitch Call of Duty/Halo thing, but I will be psyched when they bring back this new Unreal Tournament in the works. Of course any and all Silent Hill games. I could go on forever if I wanted to, but I'll just make a list of my favorites. Final Fantasy 7Shenmue 1 & 2MorrowindSyberia 1 & 2,  Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, etc, etc, etc. For the record, Sam, our bassist, would probably like me to add that he devotes most of his time to Elder Scrolls Online.

Have you ever checked out a metal band from the Middle East? If so, which ones have you heard?

Can't say I've discovered any that I regularly listen to, but I'm aware there's a passionate metal scene in the Middle East. I remember that whole controversy surrounding that band, Seeds of Iblis. I know of Orphaned Land too. I can't think of any more right now that stand out for me. Maybe you can make a list of essential albums and I'll check em out. I'm always excited to discover new bands.

Any final words for and its readers?

Well I assume that if you got this far in the interview, you either know us already or I'm just slightly interesting enough that you want to know what Woccon is about. Any and all support for us in this massively over saturated music age is appreciated. Thanks for reading and don't let my liking to smooth jazz facts get out too far. HAHA 

Thanks for taking the time to do this, Tim! All the best!

Thank you! And thanks for the question about video games. About damn time someone asked.

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