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After having reviewed their debut EP, Embark, Metality's Habib Tabaja interviews Canadian progressive hardcore band The Parallel. Vocalist Matt Johnston answers the questions.

            Habib: Hey guys. Hope you’re doing well, and it’s a pleasure to have you here on Metality. So how did you guys get together and form this band? What drove you to do it?

Matt: We formed this band a few years ago all coming from different bands in our local scene. We all got along well, and had a similar goal/vision on what we wanted to achieve as a band. We all just love making music, and I think the fact that we were making stuff together that we could get behind and support drove us to keep pushing this project to where it is now.

           We see a lot of bands following the progressive/djent sound nowadays, to the level that it’s being stereotyped and parodied on the Internet. What do you think distinguishes you from those bands and makes your music unique?

I think what makes our sound different from other progressive/djent bands these days is our hardcore element we bring to our music. We try to incorporate different styles when writing our music to keep it different, and make it unique to us.

We recently reviewed your Embark EP and we loved it. How would you describe the writing process for it? Can we look forward to anything new from you guys soon?

Collectively we all write riffs, piece things together and record demos, then we work on drum parts to solidify the song. Playing the sporadic, technical type of music that we do, it’s important that every riff or section in a song feels like it belongs, and truly justifies its existence. Being 100% satisfied with a song is always tough for us but there comes a point where you have to step back from endlessly tweaking a song and just call it done. After a song is completed structurally, we then work on writing lyrics and figuring out vocal parts. Our writing process is nothing fancy or atypical but it works for us. We are always writing and working on material; as of now we're planning to drop one or two singles before releasing a full-length in a year or so.

What bands would you cite as your major influences?

We all have our own influences personally, but the main ones that we share collectively would include; Structures, Northlane, Architects, and Counterparts.

We at Metality deal with bands from all over the world, but we’re based in the Middle East. Have you heard of or listened to any bands from the Middle East?

I can’t say I have to be honest! I would be interested in checking some out though.

Here’s a fun question: If you had to choose five bands/artists you could listen to for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Well I would want to get as many different genres in there as possible so I think I would pick
Bring Me the Horizon, Brand New, Zac Brown Band, Blink-182, and Justin Bieber because his new album is absolute fire. I don’t care what anyone says haha!

Will you be going on tour anytime soon? Do you guys have any preshow rituals that you do when performing live?

We have nothing set in stone at the moment, but we're aiming to set one up in the new year. As for pre-show rituals we don’t do anything specifically, I personally do vocal warm-ups, but nothing other than that.

Any words for the readers of Metality?

Thanks for checking out our interview and supporting our band!

You can find The Parallel on Facebook here and on Bandcamp here


1. Lord Visareza, how's it going? How would you introduce Akvan to our readers? What do you think differentiates it from other Black Metal bands?

Hails and thank you for this opportunity. Simply put, Akvan is an Iranian influenced black metal project that cites Iranian mythology, art, literature, and music at the core of its inspiration. Its sole member is myself, Vizaresa, and I would say the elements which distinguish it from other black metal bands are the utilization of distorted microtonal Iranian scales, (which, to my knowledge, have not been incorporated in this genre of music before) and the inclusion of traditional Iranian instruments, such as the tar. The sound is also extremely raw and is intended to be so as Akvan is a reaction to the over-produced, digitized, and emotionless nonsense that appears to be dominating the metal scene at large. In many parts of the Middle East, such as Iran, metal music is outlawed and many metal artists are denied the privilege of working with professional grade equipment. Thus, I want to convey a similar atmosphere in regards to the sound of my music.

2. How did you come up with the name Visareza, if we may ask?

According to Zoroastrian theology, the original religion of Iran, Vizaresa is a demon that collects wicked souls and transports them to hell after death. I figure it fits well within this specific genre.

3. Could you tell us a bit about the writing process for your songs? How often would you work on your music?

It’s quite spontaneous and more of a mental process than anything else. Music has always been a dominantly improvised art form, especially traditional Iranian music, which is where a fair amount of my musical influence comes from. I will usually sit for a few hours playing for fun on either my microtonal guitar or on my tar and come up with a melody I like. Then, I’ll put it on hold for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or even months and then come back to it. There is a fair amount of mathematics and theory involved in finding chord progressions that blend well with microtones. It might not sound complicated when listening to the final product, but there is a lot more going on musically than the average listener might grasp. The most challenging part is coming up with fitting drum parts as I am in no way, shape, or form a drummer. Once the music is written, I find inspiration for lyrics in texts such as the Shahnameh, Iranian historical and political events, poetry, and art, especially art produced by Mahmoud Farshchian.

4. What do you think about the metal scene in the Middle East in general, and Black Metal in specific? What sets the Iranian scene apart from the rest of the ME scene?

I do not want to come off as negative or disrespectful, as I am very well aware that there are a handful of gifted artists that play from their hearts and truly risk everything to do something they love in this part of the world, many of whom I have had the pleasure of meeting and even have the honor of calling my friends, but I have to say I am a little disappointed. As many artists of this genre have stated before, there seems to be a herd mentality in metal these days that is contradictory to the spirit of this type of music.  I base this on much of the criticism I have received from metal fans in this region. They all seem to have a fixation on recording quality as opposed to the actual music itself. This is especially the case in Iran… which I find funny since Akvan is a black metal project. It’s not supposed to sound produced. Many have even told me outright that traditional instruments and melodies have no place in this genre of music. I personally believe this has more to do with Western-influenced or Western-appeasing politics, the idea that presenting as Western somehow implies superiority or intellectual advancement, which, for lack of better wording, I find asinine and self-deprecating. I mean, I was born in the US and grew up there and am proud of my Iranian ancestry. I believe no matter where you are from, regardless of political or historical background, you should take pride in your roots, which is why I would really like to see more bands come up with an interpretation of metal rooted in their own culture. I think it would certainly make things more interesting and help expand the genre to new territory. Especially bands from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Scandinavian black metal bands, but I’d also like to add more variety to my musical library, if you will.  Music can serve as an exceptional platform for cultural expansion. I also think the metal scene in the Middle East has a commonality with the scene in the States in regards to the foolish notion that technicality is more important than musicality. Anyone can learn to sweep pick in 13/8, but not everyone can write a song. In all, on a positive note, I would say there is a lot of room for development in this region as far as metal goes, and I think we’re already on our way to seeing a new player in the global metal scene.

5. You’ve recently re-located to Dubai. Would you mind telling us why you’ve moved?

I moved to Dubai after I finished my Master’s degree back home. My parents had already re-located about 8 years prior, so I figured I would take a chance on somewhere new. So far, I love it. I’ve met people from all over the globe and as a result have widened my global perspective. Not to mention the available dining options are awesome. Dubai is also close to Iran, so I have the opportunity to visit and keep in touch with extended family, as well as expanding my musical knowledge and embracing my ancestral roots.

6. You were born in the US. So how was growing up there as a first-generation Iranian-American like and how did that affect your music?

To be honest, it was quite a lonely experience. I grew up in a part of the country that was predominantly conservative and Republican based, meaning many individuals in our community were unwelcoming to non-whites. My parents, myself, and my sister experienced our fair share of racism and isolation. Even though my parents are both respectable university professors, I felt as though we were treated like second-class citizens sometimes. Especially after then-U.S president Bush labeled Iran as part of the “Axis of Evil.” I was bullied quite often in school, even by some of my teachers. I think that’s where inspiration for Akvan primarily came from. This need to connect with an identity and rebel against  the belittleing of my ancestry. It was also around this time that I was first exposed to black metal and realized how similar it was to traditional Iranian music. Because of the music, I met many good friends that I am still in contact with to this day, as I found people who listen to this kind of music are more accepting of that which is different and judge based on character as opposed to physical appearance.  Many of the bands I listened to pushed a national identity in their lyrics and concepts, and I loved it and thought, why not an Iranian black metal band? And the rest is history.

7. You told us that record label from Germany tried to sign you. How did that go? 

I received an email from a record company (that will remain anonymous) offering me a contract for two albums over the course of the next four years. Naturally I was stoked. In their email they referred to my work as "genius" and "ground-breaking." However, I was asked to drop the Iranian theme, change my project name to something more " 'Arabic' and accessible," and take a more "progressive stance towards the West." And I did what had to be done. I declined politely by telling them to get lost. Akvan is Iranian black metal, pure and simple.  No compromises. Plus, I doubt their idea of ‘Arabic’ is anything close to a legitimate representative of real Arab culture. They wanted me to represent a culture that, for one, is not my own, and, in a way that only they deemed acceptable and would most likely be seen as inaccurate and offensive by real Arabs.  So, no, I absolutely refused.

8. Many of your songs and lyrics contain the word Aryan in them. That is sure to evoke accusations of racism. Or is there deeper meaning to this term?

The disclaimer on my Facebook page states the following: Unfortunately, due to a lack of education and media-propagated misinformation, the majority of the Western world has come to associate the term Aryan with the asinine ideology of white supremacy. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM), a movement just as puerile and misguided as the music written to represent it. Although its adherents refer to themselves and their equally foolish comrades as Aryans, nothing could be further from the truth. The word Aryan is derived from airya, a term used in the ancient Avestan language of the Persian Empire to denote individuals belonging to the Iranian race. Its literal meaning is roughly interpreted as “of nobility” or “a free individual” and has evolved from the Avestan airya to the contemporary Farsi آریای (transliteration: Ariyayi). It should also be taken into consideration that Iran still translates to this day as “land of the Aryans.” Therefore, anyone who does not identify ethnically as an Iranian cannot refer to themselves as an Aryan. However, this is not to imply racial supremacy. The ancient Iranians, Aryans, did not believe in or promote such backwards ideas. In fact, one of history’s most important Aryans, Cyrus the Great, opposed intolerance so much that he made it the basis for his and the world’s first charter of human rights. He is also credited as the first messiah in the Hebrew Bible as he freed the Jews from the Babylonians and provided them the means to rebuild their temple, though Cyrus himself followed the teachings of Zoroastrianism. Under his rule, the Persian Empire expanded through bloodless conquests as men and women from various cultures, ethnicities, and religions were all granted equality and freedom. Only a man such as this can be called a true Aryan. Blues, jazz, and rock and roll all either provide or strongly influence the foundations for black metal. They are also styles created primarily by African-American musicians. Thus, for a lowlife to play black metal in the name of white supremacy and to refer to himself as an Aryan is not only blasphemy, it is insulting to the legacy of the true Aryan.
Hope that answers your question.

9. Some people complain that a lot of black metal, including your music, sounds very low quality and done with “bad production”. What is your response to that?

As stated before, I think many listeners, even seasoned metalheads, don’t realize that a traditional characteristic of this genre is low-fi recording. And when I say low-fi, I mean I’m using a 2i2 Focusrite interface, a Roland cube lite amplifier, Audacity, and two Shure SM-57 microphones to record my music with. The reason I do this is because it creates a very primal musical atmosphere. I want my music to be an honest reflection of my abilities as a musician. I could easily plug in to some studio grade interface and use ridiculous editing software for hours to engineer something that sounds completely different from what I produce when I play in my room. I feel that if I did this, I would be lying to myself because this is not what it actually sounds like live. It’s just disingenuous. I also play every track all the way through without editing or doing re-takes. My guitar solos are 100% improvised and made up on the spot while recording. Which I think is kind of cool, so that every time a solo part comes up, whether live or while recording, it is slightly similar but very different every time. In other words, what you hear when you listen to an Akvan song is exactly what you would hear if I played it live, imperfections and all, for it is the imperfections that make it real. Although this does not apply to metal as a whole, I feel that many “artists” are selling a lie to their audience. Just like when you purchase a burger from a fast food joint, the picture you see is quite different in quality compared to what you put in your stomach. Same goes for any pop artist. I can assure you, none of the surgically altered members of whatever boy band would sound like they do on their album if they were to sing to you in person.

10. What advice would you like to offer up-and-coming metal artists in the region, especially those pursuing Black Metal?

My advice is quite simple: don’t be afraid to express yourself and don’t worry what your peers or anyone else thinks. As long as what you are creating is true to yourself and your intentions, that is all that matters. Music, especially black metal, is art, not entertainment. And most importantly, never give up your passions. Never.

11. Would you like to say any words for our readers?

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview and I hope some of the misconceptions regarding Akvan have been cleared up. Hails \m/

As a bonus, we're also premiering Akvan's newest track "Blood of Zal". 
Check it out and let us know what you think!

You can find Akvan on Facebook here and on Bandcamp here


Album: Edari
Artist: Omrade
Label: My Kingdom Music
Release Date: April 13th, 2015
Reviewer: Habib Tabaja

An eclectic mix of strange sounds from various influences, such as jazz, post-rock, metal, and ambient music, Edari, the debut album by French band Omrade presents an interesting audio palate. The French duo’s 8-track album presents a foray into the weird and often unexplored territory of avant-garde metal and related music, joined by several guest musicians.

The opening track “Mótsögn” contains heavy jazz and progressive influences with impressive vocals, and the album continues with delectable electronic tones in “Mann Forelder”. Next comes an industrial and quite ambient track, “Luxurious Agony”, full of harrowing vocals that remind me somehow of Bjorn Strid’s vocals on Disarmonia Mundi’s Fragments of D-Generation album.  Edari also includes lovely female vocals in “Satellite and Narrow” and the closing track “Ottaa Sen” with synthesizers, which adds to the diverse sound of the album. One of the most haunting and goosebump-inducing tracks is “Aben Dor”, a seemingly creepy and immersive song with wonderful piano elements, also present in “Skam Parfyme”, a generally quieter track on the album. Another song, “Friendly Herpes”, in addition to being strangely-titled, contains progressive electronic elements and relaxing beats to form a beautiful atmospheric musical work. 

While it may not be a welcoming treat for some hardcore metal fans, Omrade’s Edari is both relaxing and haunting to listen to. An impressive collection of various sounds and influences, this album is a well-produced musical mosaic that I also wish would have contained an additional couple or more songs. Definitely recommended for fans of bands like Ulver and Manes. Overall, it is a wonderful piece of avant-garde metal from a band which I am certainly looking forward to future releases from.


You can find omrade on Facebook here.


by Habib Tabaja

Despite the unfortunate cancellation of Belgian deathgrind band Aborted’s appearance in Dubai’s Halloween Metal Night, hosted by Metal East Records and JoScene at the Music Room on October 30th, metalheads still celebrated with a vicious lineup of local bands while donning insane costumes. Svengali, Coat of Arms, and Verdict performed in front of the crowd of freaks that night, in addition to DJ Der Abyss playing his mix of industrial and black metal between sets.

Verdict. Photo credit: JoScene.

Newcomers Verdict commenced a night of madness by playing four of their tracks, namely “Reckless Punishment”, “Systematic Slaughter”, “Heartstab”, and “Defiance”.  This is the Death/groove metal band’s second live performance, after making their live debut a week prior to this show at The Fridge in Dubai. They put on an excellent set with crushing riffs and brutal vocals and were definitely a crowd pleaser, resulting in a mosphit and involuntary headbanging, especially during “Systematic Slaughter”. In addition, Vocalist Karam Toubba was sure to send a message to the haters of the local metal scene, getting a roar of approval from the revelers. I can say that I am definitely looking forward to their first release as well as any of their future performances.

Verdict. Photo credit: JoScene.

Next up were Coat of Arms, an industrial/metalcore band that many in the region are familiar with. It was my first time seeing them live, and they proved they were as great as they sounded on their recent album, A Shade of Red, which was released earlier this year. They played a mix of old and new songs, such as “Trade Lie Census”, “Silence the Sensor”, “Black Holes”, and “Forming Abyss”. At one point during Coat of Arms’ set, Svengali’s vocalist Adnan Mryhij joined Coat of Arms’ vocalist Mohammad Bailouni onstage in performing of their songs. The crowd was rocked in their costumes and corpse paint to the well-engineered sounds of Coat of Arms.

Coat of Arms. Photo credit: JoScene.

Headliners Svengali closed the night with a set of their powerful and uplifting songs from both their debut album Theory of Mind and their Unscathed EP. The band, who have been taking the UAE metal scene by storm, made the fans enter an energetic trance of moshing and headbanging to many of their fun tracks including “Deny”, “Laced in Sin”, “Floodgates”, “Blindfolds”. Also, Coat of Arms’ vocalist Mohammad Bailouni also joined them onstage in performing their hit song “Conquer”. Simply a superb performance yet again from Svengali.

Svengali. Photo credit: JoScene.

Overall, it was a great, well-managed show with fantastic sound quality as is usual for the Music Room, in addition to the efforts of organizers Metal East Records and JoScene, who despite the setback involving the cancellation of Aborted’s performance, managed to put things back on track and prove, with the help of this lineup of local bands, that the UAE metal scene is powerful and alive, more than it ever was. It was definitely a night to be remembered and not missed out on, especially with all the fantastic costumes that the people were wearing, which even included a menacing Naz’Gul from Lord of the Rings! 

You can find the bands on Facebook here: Coat of Arms, Svengali, and Verdict.
You can find the organizers on Facebook here: JoScene and Metal East Records.


Album: New Bermuda
Artist: Deafheaven
Label: ANTI- Records
Release Date: October 2, 2015
Reviewer: Fawzi Abdel Al

Deafheaven are an American Post-Black Metal/Blackgaze band hailing from San Francisco. New Bermuda is their third studio album, which was released on the 2nd of October, 2015. What sets Deafheaven apart from other bands of similar genres, such as Lantlos, for example, is their ability to get the right balance between sheer brutality and peaceful ambience.

This album starts off with “Brought to the Water”, an amazing track in which the church bell-like intro is very reminiscent of that of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. This track perfectly gives a clear idea of what this album is going to sound like: short and groovy Death Metal riffs which smoothly transition into haunting and ambient Black Metal ones, which blend in well with alternative rock and shoegaze-inspired riffs. An interesting observation is that the outro of this track is the continuation of “Irresistible” from Deafheaven’s 2013 album release, Sunbather. This track is followed by “Luna”, my personal favorite from this album. I love how “Luna” is lyrically reminiscent of “Dream House” in Sunbather. The way Clarke screams the word “home” is filled with despair, but also with so much hope.

Next is “Baby Blue”, the most technical track on this album, or so I thought until I heard outro, when a heart-breaking riff barges in to prove you wrong. The emotionally-violent outro then settles down to become the overture of the following track, “Come Back”. At first glance, this song seems to be boringly ambient, but suddenly, a very heavy riff explodes into the scene. I feel that this track in particular is a big middle finger to all the Black Metal elitists who think that Deafheaven aren’t heavy enough to be a Black Metal band. This track’s sound ranges from soft to heavy and from calm to haunting, or all those together, which is an excellent demonstration of the band’s style. This album concludes with “Gifts for the Earth”, probably the lightest track on this album. This song consists of Post Punk-inspired riffs with Black Metal vocals on top. It’s the perfect track to conclude such an album with as it sums up all of the leftover emotions from all 4 songs above and combines them into a wonderful ending.

In conclusion, I believe Deafheaven managed to mix the best qualities of Roads to Judah (2011) and Sunbather (2013) into one album. To me, this is Deafheaven’s best work yet, from soft intros to hauntingly heavy riffs, to a groovy alternative rock sound, to short technical guitar solos, and to heart-breaking outros. Definitely a treat for the ears.


Find Deafheaven on Facebook here.


Album: Embark EP
Artist: The Parallel
Label: Subliminal Groove Records
Release Date: October 9, 2015
Reviewer: Habib Tabaja

Today, we embark on a short, but exciting musical journey that will take us to the proggy plains of Canada with a remarkable hardcore twist. Although The Parallel's debut EP Embark is only 14 minutes long, it contains sufficient material for the band to define their sound.

The opening track "Embark" is the shortest on the album, but it shows some serious, powerful vocals reminiscent of Northlane and Volumes, as well as crushing breakdowns. However, the following track, "Pendulum", better showcases the band's sound with melodic, heavy riffs full of progressive metal elements with a djenty vibe. The third track "Shipwrecked", which is my personal favorite from this EP, does a fantastic job of creating the ambience and mood a band needs to achieve in order to characterize their sound, with a more technical albeit hardcore style. If I would say that there is a song to represent this relatively recently formed band, it would be this one. The release ends with the song "Endeavors", offering an emotional and highly melodic tune complete with a wonderful addition of clean vocals.

Overall, the Embark EP is a good start for a band like The Parallel. The EP is stylistically diverse and exhibits the band's different approaches to the progressive hardcore style. I am definitely looking forward to more of their releases.


Catch The Parallel on Facebook.
You can also visit their Bandcamp and stream their EP!


Legions of Aramaic, rejoice!

Dubai-based oriental metal band Aramaic recently recruited Hendrik "Tempest" Woydnyski (of Maat) as their new drummer. This new addition comes after Aramaic's guitarist Fadi Al Shami contacted Hendrik back in January, as Fadi thought Aramaic's music could provide the proper platform for Hendrik to express himself freely beyond the drum kit.

The Berlin-born Hendrik has had a passion for drumming in heavy and extreme music from the young age of 6, primarily inspired by the many bands his mother listened to, such as Megadeth, Guns 'n Roses, and Type O Negative. He later discovered and developed a powerul love for a different style of drumming after listening to Annihilator and Dimmu Borgir among many other extreme metal acts.

Hendrik's other band Maat, significantly influenced by Behemoth and Nile, was formed in 2010 with with Kris (Thot) and Franko (Scaradeus) and has supported bands such as Six Feet Under, Anaal Nathrakh, Dark Funeral, and Entombed in live performances. They released their first album ‘As We Create The Hope From Above’ in 2014 and have been enjoying successes and meeting and working with musicians across the globe since.

Hendrik is definitely a fantastic addition to the Dubai metal scene and will surely contribute towards their growth both musically and geographically, beyond the region.

Check out this playthrough video of Hendrik rocking the drums to Aramaic's "The Pledge":

You can find Aramaic on Facebook here, and Maat here.


by Habib Tabaja

One of the few bands that I never get tired of listening to is Dark Tranquillity. They are one of the three Melodic Death Metal bands that defined the Gothenburg sound, and now carry it on with an electronic twist so full of energy and talent. They’ve been at it since 1989, and are still going strong today with their 10th studio album Construct, which was released in 2013. Of course, that means one has a trove of their songs to explore, but there are definitely some of them which aren’t quite well-known but are definitely worth listening to.

“At Loss for Words” from Haven (2000).

Being an album that marked Dark Tranquillity’s new focus on the addition of keyboards and electronic elements to their music, Haven contained some well-known songs such as “The Wonders at Your Feet” and “Rundown”. However, a song I believe that is also worthy of note is “At Loss for Words”, which not only features Dark Tranquillity’s mesmerizing new electronic music elements but also soothing piano that contrasts with the fast, heavy riffs. Mikael Stanne’s vocals are also wonderfully striking throughout the song as they transition from aggressive growls to raspy intonations.

“Inside the Particle Storm” from Fiction (2007).

Fiction was noted by many as the album that defined the band’s current sound. It also contains some of their most popular songs, such as “Misery’s Crown”, “Terminus”, and “Focus Shift”. Although overshadowed by these tracks, “Inside the Particle Storm” proves to be a notable Dark Tranquillity song. The intro is slow yet gripping with its synth, guitar, and drums. Its lyrics revolve around a nuclear holocaust and the End of Days, and Mikael Stanne does really well in painting that harrowing atmosphere with his vocals. Alternating between fast and slow sections, the song progresses beautifully and has one of the best Dark Tranquillity guitar solos that complements its ambience.

“Cathode Ray Sunshine” from Damage Done (2002).

A powerful album, Damage Done pushed the musical boundaries of Dark Tranquillity further as they became even more melodic and heavy. Hits from this album include “Monochromatic Stains”, “The Enemy”, and “The Final Resistance”. However, there is a fine track that usually goes unnoticed when one mentions this album, and it is “Cathode Ray Sunshine”. Melodic guitars, heavy riffs, and a fast rhythm make it a brilliant song along with Stanne’s vocals which always seem to flow accordingly with the riffs. The song itself constitutes a complete headbanging experience.

“Still Moving Sinews” from The Mind’s I (1997).

I don’t know why, but I see The Mind’s I as Dark Tranquillity’s “least-noticed” album, even though it contains some of their more popular tracks like “Insanity’s Crescendo” and “Hedon”. When I go through this album, one song that always stands out is “Still-Moving Sinews”. It gives the same vibes as their previous album, The Gallery, does. The guitars in it are also a bit different from the rest of the album. If The Mind’s I has to have a “trademark” Dark Tranquillity song, it should be this one.

“On Your Time” from Projector (1998).

Although Projector presented a significant departure from their original Melodic Death Metal sound, Dark Tranquillity diversified their musical footprint with this album. “ThereIn”, “Auctioned”, and “Dobermann” are the generally recognizable tracks from Projector. Apart from those, the song “On Your Time” proves to be an excellent demonstration of the band’s new style for that album, incorporating Mikael Stanne’s new operatic baritone vocals with his growls. A great drums-dominated opening begins a musical journey that is fraught with heavy, melodic guitars, giving you that “pumped up” feeling. I think it has the best of both the classical and the then-new Dark Tranquillity sound.

“With the Flaming Shades of Fall” from Of Chaos and Eternal Night EP (1995)

Often coupled with the band’s prior release in 1993 Skydancer, the Of Chaos and Eternal Night EP was released twice. And, perhaps for that reason, its songs are overshadowed by those of the Skydancer album. Perhaps one song that usually eludes some fans of the band is “With the Flaming Shades of Fall”, a gripping tale about the change of seasons embellished with mythological delight. The opening of the track features impressive guitar and drum work; Sundin and Jivarp demonstrate the band’s efficacy in painting a mental picture of the song’s theme. Stanne’s screams and growls are passionate and full of emotion. The main riff and bass lines repeated throughout the song are another reason to enjoy this musical work.

“Shadow Duet” from Skydancer (1993)

The band’s first full-length album Skydancer featured current vocalist Mikael Stanne on guitars and In FlamesAnders Friden on vocals. Characterized by raw guitar double-guitar sounds and a female guest vocalist, Skydancer perfectly captures the early years of the Gothenburg metal scene. Memorable songs from the album include “A Bolt of Blazing Gold” and “Alone”. One impressive, underrated song among Gothenburg metal fan circles is “Shadow Duet”, which features both Friden and Stanne on vocals in a truly dark medley of growls and guitars. Wonderful bass lines and drumming complement the song’s remarkable guitar riffs and alternation between slow and fast-paced parts. Occasional acoustic guitars and Mikael Stanne’s clean vocals complete the formula for a brilliant early Melodic Death Metal song.

“Cornered” from Exposures: In Retrospect and Denial (2004).

A compilation of both new bonus tracks and older Dark Tranquillity hits, Exposures features a bevy of the band’s diverse sounds. It contains many fan favorites, such as “Static” and “No One”. However, one song I find also worth mentioning from that period is “Cornered”. It packs a punch of heavy electronic influences, keyboards, fast melodic guitars, and heavy drumming. The progression of the song between louder and quieter parts is delectable accompanied by Stanne’s well-timed vocals.

“Dry Run” from Character (2005).

Often considered the “transitionary” album between the band’s styles in Damage Done and Fiction, Character features more piano tunes and synth to create a dark yet energetic ambience to Dark Tranquillity’s music. Songs associated with this album include “Lost to Apathy”, “The New Build”, and “Out of Nothing”. A song I felt that didn’t garner much attention is “Dry Run”. The track has a catchy chorus, aggressive vocals, and a perfect keyboards and piano addition to its powerful, fast guitars. Jivarp does an impressive job on the drums as well.

“The Emptiness from Which I Fed” from The Gallery (1995).

The Gallery is greatly considered Dark Tranquillity’s most significant contribution to the original Gothenburg metal scene, along with In FlamesThe Jester Race and At The GatesSlaughter of the Soul. It features all the classical, defining Melodic Death Metal elements: a female guest vocalist, torrential drumming, and double guitars. Well-known and revered songs from this album include “Punish My Heaven”, “Lethe”, “The Gallery”, and “Of Melancholy Burning”. Often less mentioned, “The Emptiness from Which I Fed” is one of my most favorite Dark Tranquillity songs. Everything about this song is incredible: the drumming, the melodic guitars, the vocals, and the poetic lyrics. Niklas Sundin does some of his most impressive work in this song. Also, Stanne’s screams are at his most powerful and passionate here. It surely is a must-listen song for any Melodic Death Metal and Gothenburg scene fan. 

In conclusion, it is safe to say that Dark Tranquillity are a band that have continuously formed depth and diversity in their musical works, ranging from lyrical themes to the music itself, as demonstrated in the above list. They are a band that are still putting themselves out there today and are, without a shadow of doubt, a band that one should look out for in today's world of metal. Their discography is a musical journey definitely worth exploring and re-visiting. 


Album: Luminiferous
Band: High on Fire
Label: eOne Music
Release Date: June 23rd, 2015
Reviewer: Alex Ghali

Hello, freaks and geeks! It’s time for another album review! Today’s offering comes to you from the slimy, crusty streets of northern California, where goodness dare not go. In case you’ve been living under a rock, denizens of that realm, High on Fire released their 17th album, Luminiferous, not too long ago. Like their previous works, this one is ugly in all the right ways.

Born out of the ashes of the phenomenal Sleep, High on Fire have evolved from your average Stoner/Doom outfit (not to say that they were ever average) to the hard-hitting tsunami of sludge you hear today. Don’t believe me? I’ll let this review do the talking.

The Black Plot
Where other bands start their albums off with ominous, slowly growing intros, High on Fire waste no time by instead opening with a menacing riff to set the stage. Their hardcore and thrash influences are prominent in the frenzied rhythm section, and Matt Pike’s vocal work takes on a more melodic but snarling tone. At 3:53 the song comes to a seemingly abrupt halt, only for the silence to be broken by the filthy, twisted wailing of the concluding guitar solo.

At 0:00 you’re greeted with a merciless double-bass barrage that opens up for the mid-tempo onslaught that is Carcosa. It’s a deceptively complex number: the guitars pound steadily on in groovy stoner/doom fashion, with the vocals layering on an old-school heavy metal feel à la Dio or Grand Magus. The guitar solo brings more traditional blues influences to the table, fragmenting itself to keep your head spinning as you try to catch up with the mid-tempo madness.

The Sunless Years
With melodic riffs, bass lines and vocal work, The Sunless Years brings some order to the chaos that is a bad acid trip. Chock-full of references to conspiracy theories and related delusions, this track’s frantic guitar solo and oppressive closing section drive home this sense of slowly growing madness.

Slave the Hive
More hardcore thrashing to be had in this no-nonsense banger. Slave the Hive comes with a shouted chorus and a mangled guitar solo and angular riffs that would make Discharge and the progenitors of the Bay Area metal scene shed tears of pride.

The Falconist
Slow and melodic, this is the album’s ballad. Bassist Jeff Matz is a rarity among his peers in the genre: instead of slavishly chugging along with the main melodies he instead opts to harmonize with it, and supplements them with well-placed flourishes that showcases the band’s creativity.

The Dark Side of the Compass
This is the nastiest bowl of auditory gumbo you’ve ever had, or the greatest aural orgy that ever was. This is what thrash, sludge, and death metal would sound like if they all gangbanged heavy metal and it gave birth to their child. Pike harmonizes beautifully on the chorus with a wailing guitar, a rarity in any genre (if it’s ever done right).

The Cave
The Cave starts out with a snaking, ominous bassline played in a Hellenic scale. Perhaps it’s an allusion to Plato’s allegory of the cave, but philosophy is for another day. This song is angular, bluesy, trippy, and melodic when it needs to be, setting you on a journey through cobwebs and sinister, subterranean mists in search of an answer to this album’s madness.

This is the title track in one word: chaos. It track begins with a double bass avalanche that leads to a relentless D-beat earthquake. Matt Pike shrieks his lungs out like the hounds of hell are mere inches away from ripping him a new one, while distant cities smolder. Why are cities burning, you ask? Because fuck ‘em, High on Fire says.

The Lethal Chamber
This monolith of doom begins with sinister intentions and ushers the end of Luminiferous. Here the band winds down and returns to their stoner roots as they chug on to the apocalypse, using that last bit of energy to end on a thunderous note (well, it’s really a fadeout, but you get me).

Final thoughts: Production-wise, Luminiferous’ sound is a little lighter and less murky than its predecessor, De Vermis Mysteriis, but does that make it any worse? Absolutely not. With bottomless reserves of energy, influences from all over and beyond, and a drive to keep pushing the envelope, High on Fire deliver solid work yet again with Luminiferous, and already have this fan excited for the next album.

Favorite Tracks: The Cave, The Falconist, The Sunless Years


Benevolent’s guitarist and clean vocalist Hadi Sarieddine  released his own ambient rendition of In Flames“With Eyes Wide Open”, from their latest album, Siren Charms. This song is his 11th cover, added to a collection of covers of bands such as Dark Tranquillity, Defontes,  Katatonia, and Woods of Ypres. The cover was self-produced at Sareiddine's studio, Haven Studio.

Hadi commented on the release, saying that “Doing those ambient covers has allowed me to discover and push myself not only vocally but also from a production standpoint in addition to learning a whole lot about songwriting”.

Check out the cover below:

Social Media links:
Visit Hadi’s Youtube Channel here.
Hadi's Facebook here.
Hadi's Instagram here.


Lebanese rock and metal fans: take note of this upcoming show at Beirut's Metro al Madina this Saturday, July 11th. New Blood, organized by Lebanon's Metal Bell magazine, will feature a slew of bands from various metal subgenres.

The lineup includes April, an ambient progressive metal band who released their latest EP earlier this year. Also performing is progressive and djent band Qantara, who play a wide range of musical styles. Having recently released their debut album, progressive metal band Shadowalls will also add their tunes to the night's lineup. In addition, thrash band Madjera will offer their talent to the crowd. Progressive thrash guitarist Nareg Vassilian will also contribute to this wide array of performances.

The organizing looks top-notch for this event. It might be one that you would regret missing out on -  try not to miss this if you're in Beirut!

Check out the event's page on Facebook here.
Watch the promo video for the event here.


Band: Tengger Cavalry
Album: Blood Sacrifice Shaman
Genre: Folk Metal
Release: May 18, 2015
Label: Metal Hell Records
Reviewer: Ziad Gadou

What started as a Western phenomenon in Europe has now proceeded to become a global movement. Metal is now cross-continental. It has reached all possible geographic and cultural borders, crossed them and is recruiting armies of musicians to fight for its voice, and theirs. Tengger Cavalry, a Mongolian folk metal act (yes, the Genghis Khan Mongolia), brought their horse-head fiddles and Mongolian lutes to the metal equation.

The multitalented diversity of Nature Ganganbaigal leads this quintet on a journey of exquisitely unfamiliar ground. Metal audiences first witnessed them when they opened for Turisas in Beijing after 4 years of annual studio releases and almost no live performances. The success of their second installment led them to play Beijing and New York’s Strawberry Music Festival.

Blood Sacrifice Shaman, the band’s fifth release, comes to solidify Tengger Cavalry’s spot as one of the most different and diverse acts the international scene has witnessed. “Hymn of the Mongolian Totem” fairly introduces both the heavy, that audiences hunger for, and the Shamanstic folk that is the banner this band single-handedly carries.  “Tengger Cavalry”, “Horseman” and “Hero” are guaranteed to get you moshing in smiles to the heart-warming Dombra playing of Mural and percussive brilliance of Kai Ding. If Braveheart was based in Mongolia, “The Native” would be its central soundtrack. A great feature this album encompasses is its great production. Every instrument enjoys its own freedom to soar to its listeners in a clear and coherent co-existing atmosphere. “The Wolf Ritual” is my personal pick off the album.  I think it provides the perfect balance between the heavy and the beautiful, in terms of time given to each and the justice that the production provides to each of these two factors.

Tengger Cavalry's Blood Sacrifice Shaman is a masterful record, a statement, and most of all an impressive achievement added to the young resume of Mongolian metal. I expect to hear from this band a lot in the coming few years. Their sound captures what any culture, tradition, and/or metal enthusiast would like to add to his playlist. Mongolia is back on the global conquest.  This time it is not for land or fame, but to dominate your ears and hopefully your local stage.


Tengger Cavalry is on Facebook here.

Nature Ganganbaigal – Guitar, Throat Singing, Horse-head Fiddle
Xin Wang – Horse-head Fiddle
Mural – Dombra
Wei Wang – Bass
Kai Ding – Drums

Could The Book of Souls Be Iron Maiden's Best Recent Effort?

by Alex Ghali

Alright, freaks and geeks, better late than never! In case you missed the news, Iron Maiden are putting on the final touches for their upcoming release, The Book of Souls. Nope, not “Still working on it,” nor “Heading back to the studio”! It’s full steam ahead for the legends, and they’ve announced a release date: September 4th of this year.

What’s more, they’ve even revealed the album art and track listing for Book of Souls. While the names of each track should strike fans as more cryptic and gripping than previous releases, the duration of each track is even more noteworthy: Maiden has enjoyed a reputation for composing lengthy epics, but they really seem to be pushing the envelope this time.

The shortest track, Tears of a Clown, is roughly 5 minutes long, while the title track, the album’s fulcrum, clocks in at 10:27. As the band knows how to end an album, it’s fitting they follow their tradition of making the last track the longest and most metal: Empire of the Clouds clocks in at a monstrous 18 minutes. This, combined with The Book of Souls being a double album, makes it the band’s most ambitious effort to date (maybe more so than my favorite Maiden album, 1986’s Somewhere in Time).

Another detail that sets this album apart from the rest of its catalogue is its context: for those of you haven’t heard, frontman Bruce Dickinson had undergone treatment for tongue cancer, and recently came out with the good news that it’s been all quashed. This may have had an impact on the recording process, but it most definitely will show on tour. In any case, we’re going optimistic and see this as Bruce and the band’s return to kicking ass. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see, but here’s what the band had to say:

“We approached this album in a different way to how we’ve recorded previously.  A lot of the songs were actually written while we were there in the studio and we rehearsed and recorded them straight away while they were still fresh, and I think that immediacy really shows in the songs, they have almost a live feel to them, I think. I’m very proud of The Book Of Souls, we all are, and we can’t wait for our fans to hear it, and especially to take it out on the road next year!” – Steve Harris.

“We’re really excited about The Book Of Souls and had a fantastic time creating it. We started working on the album in late summer 2014 and recorded it at Guillame Tell Studios in Paris, where we’d done the Brave New World album back in 2000 so the studio holds special memories for all of us. We were delighted to discover the same magical vibe is still alive and very much kicking there! So we immediately felt at home and the ideas just started flowing. By the time we’d finished we all agreed that each track was such an integral part of the whole body of work that if it needed to be a double album, then double its going to be!”-Bruce Dickinson.