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June 7th

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INTERVIEW WITH SEPULTURA'S ANDREAS KISSER


Ahead of Sepultura’s first show in Egypt set to take place on June 4th in Cairo, guitarist Andreas Kisser was interviewed by Metality’s managing editor, Habib Tabaja.

Habib: Hey guys! Might I say that it’s an absolute honor to interview legends like you!

Andreas: Thank you!

So how does it feel to be playing in Egypt for the first time? What are you looking forward to?

I’m very excited to play in Egypt for the first time. Very happy that finally we have a chance to meet our fans in Cairo. I want to get to know the city of Cairo, to taste the food and drinks. It will be a very special show; we will play the whole history of Sepultura.

Do you ever plan to play elsewhere in the Middle East?

We would love to go everywhere. We played in 75 countries so far in a 32-year career. Egypt will be our 76th country, and hopefully we will have the chance to go to different countries in the region.

Has the Middle East in its culture or history ever had any influence on your music? If so, in what specifically?

Yes, ancient Egypt is a very strong influence in what we do in music. I love the scales and the rhythms coming from Egypt and the region. My first band before I joined Sepultura was called “Sphynx”. This topic has always interested me.

Speaking of live shows, do you prefer large shows with larger audiences or small, intimate bar gigs?

I love them all. We have the privilege to play in all of those situations. The important thing is to be on stage and have a great time with our fans.

You guys have been touring the world for years. What was the weirdest or most awkward thing ever to happen on tour in other countries?

Maybe it was when we were in Indonesia in 1992. We went for a radio interview there, and we had more than two thousand people waiting for us, so it was total chaos, and the interview was very short and noisy. It was really crazy!

Can you give us any updates on upcoming releases? Hints on a release date or what it would sound like?

We are working on a new album and are finishing recording it in Sweden with the producer Jens Bogren. The album is coming out at the end of October through the Nuclear Blast label. It’s a new sound for Sepultura. Every album, we bring something different; it is hard to explain in words but I believe it’s the best album of our career!

The metal scene in most of the Middle East is pretty underground. What advice do you give to up-and-coming metal bands in the region about making their music and keeping metal alive?

Keep the fire going. Play the music you like! Metal is one of the most popular styles of music in the world, and it’s great to see that regardless of politics and religion, metal is very strong everywhere. You’re not alone; we fight for metal every day, and it’s a privilege to play for you guys in Cairo!

Any words for your fans in the Middle East and for the readers of Metality?

I’ll see you all at the show on June 4th. It’s a very important date for the history of Sepultura. Let’s have the best time together. See you all in Cairo! Thanks for the support!


Sepultura will be playing live in Cairo on June 4th with Nader Sadek, Gorynov, Perpetual Ferocity, and Mephistophilis.
Visit the event page here.


INTERVIEW WITH OMRADE



Following up to reviewing their debut album, Edari, last year, our managing editor Habib had a chat with Omrade's vocalist Krys (Bargnatt XIX) about the band and their upcoming releases, as well as their genre and other topics.

Can you tell us a bit more about the concept behind Omrade?

Krys (Bargnatt XIX): We are two in the band: JP (Arsenic) does the drums and orchestrations (synth, etc.…), and I play guitar and sing. Our music is an invitation to travel; all our tracks are a different painting. Every time, we catch the listeners in our universe. Our influences are Ulver, Manes, God Is an Astronaut, Dodheimsgard. We have no borders in music: We could mix trip hop, black metal, electro, metal, post rock and different sensibilities. The most important thing for us is to create our own universe.

Omrade describes itself as avant-garde metal. Do you think there is a growing appeal towards this subgenre? Do you think there would be aversion?

Avant-garde metal is very large; it’s just a definition of when some bands mix extreme music with another kind of music. It’s a personal approach, an effort to be not like all the other bands, create our own universe and try to catch people in this universe. The thing that matters is not the genre but the music itself. If you take some time to listen to a different kind of music, the genre is not really important. In this world, everybody is really comfortable with the standard or what they’re used to, so sometimes it’s hard to try different things. Avant-garde metal for me is a great compliment.
An aversion? I don’t know, but I think the people need to listen to the music before boxing it in a genre. The music needs to speak to its audience, and we don’t care if it’s metal/sludge/doom/death metal/avant-garde… It’s how we interpret it that matters to us.

We loved Edari! What’s coming up for Omrade in the near future? Any new releases or upcoming shows?
What can we expect in any upcoming release and when?

We've had great success with the album. Omrade’s Edari is now available in Mall of the Emirates. Virgin Megastore and Virgin Mega Store, Dubai Mall. It’s a collaboration with Metal East Records’ Moutasem Kabbani and My Kingdom Music’s Francesco Palumbo. We are very proud to be in Virgin megastore in the UAE. Very soon on 06/10/2016 our album will be released in an LP vinyl version.

Here's our press release on the upcoming vinyl: 

"After the good success of Omrade "Edari" CD, in collaboration with One Gone Beyond from the USA and Soman Records from France, we will release the album in vinyl format, limited to 300 hand-numbered copies.

Here is the the complete tracklist of the bonus CD "Hátíð Vinum":

1. Skam Parfyme [remix by Grégoire Fray (Thot)]
2. Friendly Herpes [remix by Déhà (We All Die (Laughing)]
3. Mótsögn [remix by Tor-Helge Skei (Manes, Lethe)]
4. Aben Dor [remix by Swarm Intelligence]
5. Luxurious Agony [remix by Edgard Chevallier (GHB)]
6. Mann Forelder [remix by Roka Skulld (Nordic Giants) & Billy Merrick (Saturday Sun)]
7. Satellite And Narrow [remix by La Soff]



The album, already considered by many one of the best surprises of the European Avant-garde Metal scene, will include a bonus-CD titled "Hátíð Vinum" that will be available only with "Edari" LP version and that will present seven tracks taken from "Edari" remixed by great artists into the international scene such as Grégoire Fray (Thot), Tor-Helge Skei (Manes, Lethe), Déhá Amsg (We All Die (Laughing), Roka Skulld (Nordic Giants), Edgard Chevallier (Gloomy Hellium Bath), Swarm Intelligence, Sophie C La Soff.

With this new step we draw a new limit to the words "vision" and "extremism"."

During April, we recorded our upcoming album at Ltpstudio in France (www.facebook.com/ltpstudio.lowertonesplace) with Edgard Chevallier. We have different guests on our future album but the details of that are secret for now. There’s more news coming soon!

Any words for the readers of Metality?

I would really like to thank Metality and Habib personally for introducing Omrade to the UAE metal scene. For the readers, just a few words: Never stop discovering new metal everywhere, because it’s always a joy to discover and share new music. After all, we're human. 

Thank you, Krys! Wishing you and the band the best of luck!

You can find Omrade on Facebook here
You can pre-order their LP here: http://smarturl.it/OMRA-LP

INTERVIEW WITH JM ELIAS OF DAMAGE RITE




Damage Rite, a death-thrash act from Lebanon has been recently revived, and our managing editor Habib interviewed their vocalist and guitarist JM Elias.

Habib: It's good to have you with us, JM.

JM: It's good to be here!

So Damage Rite is revived! What can you tell us about the history of the band and its revival?

Damage Rite started back in 2003 under the name of Postmortem, and it was based in Lebanon.
We played quite a handful of shows under the name Postmortem before we had to change it.
The reason is pretty simple: there were many bands with that name, and as we were getting more serious about our music, it was only logical to change the name and have something original and representing our music.

What do you hope to accomplish with this revival?

I had the music written and and recorded since 2011, but for various reasons I was never able to mix it and master it, however, after teaming up with CTG Productions and Mohammad Bailouni (from Coat of Arms), I got the chance to move forward with the material, and that’s what I’m doing.
At this point I just want the music to be out there, as I’ve had it for so long and with everything happening in the world around us, it makes perfect sense to me, and I hope people can relate to it as well.

Can we have an idea about the upcoming releases or possible live shows?

There is nothing planned at the moment in terms of live shows, yet we’ve been releasing small teaser videos on our Facebook page showcasing bits and pieces here and there.
We will be announcing the release date very soon, and hopefully get a couple of live shows lined up for the year.

If someone has no idea about your band or what they play, how would you describe it to them with just a few words?

It’s angry, fast and aggressive.

Any words for the readers of Metality?


Metality has been continuously supporting the metal scene in the region, and for that, I say thank you for your hard work, and as for the readers, wait for it and keep supporting your local acts!


Thank you for being with us, JM. We’re looking forward to what Damage Rite has in store! We wish you the best of luck! 


You can find Damage Rite on Facebook here, and a new live guitar tracking video of "The Dehumanizing Factor" here.


BLAST NIGHT II [REVIEW]


by Habib Tabaja

Dubai witnessed another fantastic metal night hosted by JoScene at the Music Room, with the talents of Greece's Dimlight and local bands Verdict, Pullbox, and Angmar. It was a great show, to say the least.

The night began with DJ WYN's metal tunes, covering all metal subgenres, that set the atmosphere for the entertainment of the night to come.

Angmar, credit: George Durzi

The venue descended into a trance of gloom and doom when newcomers Angmar brought their own take on death-doom metal to the stage. I think the scene has been missing a band that plays doom metal in the vein of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, and early Anathema, and these guys did just that. Covers of Anathema's "A Dying Wish" and My Dying Bride's "She is the Dark" almost brought tears to my eyes as I heard these songs live for the first time, executed with great vocals and professionalism. I also witnessed them perform a solid death-doom original, titled "Chaos". This band has done a great job in entering the scene and playing live for the first time!


Following Angmar were UAE nu-metal group Pull Box, who, even though out of place among the performing bands genre-wise, performed with great enthusiasm to a crowd who reciprocated that. Honestly speaking, I am not a big fan of Nu-Metal, but they delivered a solid show with songs like "Thy Monster", "Scream", and "War for Peace". Not to mention that they are one of the few female-fronted metal bands in the local scene, and that adds an extra edge to their uniqueness in it. It is definitely something we should see more of.

Pullbox, credit: George Durzi
Verdict, credit: George Durzi
Then, death metallers Verdict ascended the stage, with their usual crowd-pleasing songs such as "Systematic Slaughter" and "Headstab". Naturally, the crowd moshed with the relentless fury of Verdict's riffs, especially when playing "War Head" and "Defiance". One of the most fun bands to see live in the scene with all their energy and brutality!

Afterwards, with a haunting overture, Dimlight brought definitive, beautiful chaos to The Music Room. Playing their own blend of Symphonic Death Metal with operatic female vocals, they definitely brought a unique experience to the local scene. With songs like "Invoking the Hunter" and "Dark Emotion", Dimlight exhibited the beautiful contrast between the harshness of Death Metal and the serenity of operatic female vocals done by the wonderful Eva Forlanou. They also played many of their older and more recent songs such as "Shattered Idols" and "Fear the Heavens". Their guitarist and vocalist Invoker also called for a Wall of Death, and it happened! The first time I see a Wall of Death in a bar show. Absolutely fantastic! I would love to see them again.


Dimlight, credit: George Durzi
All in all, it was a well-organized show with great bands, great people, and great music. Looking forward to more shows like this in the scene!

More photos from the show below!

Dimlight, credit: George Durzi

Angmar, credit: George Durzi

Dimlight, credit: George Durzi
Dimlight, credit: George Durzi
Angmar, credit: George Durzi
Verdict, credit: George Durzi
Angmar, credit: George Durzi










INTERVIEW WITH NADER SADEK

After the recent controversy surrounding the Inquisition show in Egypt this year, as well as the secret postponement of the Dark Fortress gig there, we asked Egyptian metal artist Nader Sadek about the events that transpired, as well as his upcoming projects.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the views presented in this interview do not necessarily reflect the views of Metality or anyone involved in managing it or writing for it. As the largest metal webzine in the Middle East, we wanted to give Nader Sadek a platform to speak about this issue.


Metality:
1-     A lot has happened since the show with Inquisition in Egypt: a media controversy, and lots of back and forth accusations within the scene. We’ve seen you defend metal on Egyptian TV. Can you give us some more insight into the issue, especially for the non-Arab audiences?

Nader: Basically what you have here is a young scene, whereas in the Western world, they were dealing with this kind of controversy in the 80’s and early 90’s. So I figure that this is the “pubescent” stage of the metal scene in Egypt and the Middle East, which was aborted in 1997 due to a fame-seeking and ignorant journalist with the name of Abdallah Kamal. Then, the scene saw a weak revival in the 2000s.

First and foremost, I think it is a good idea to give some background on the fiasco of ‘97. Two members from a band in Alexandria were getting jealous from the fact that the Cairo metal scene was growing and getting sponsorship from large companies such as Marlboro and McDonalds. These two members called Abdallah Kamal, a writer at Rose El-Youssef, which is not in any way a respected paper in Egypt and basically a tabloid who are self-proclaimed “exposers” of problematic issues in Egypt. The band from Alexandria told Kamal that metal is a pathway to devil worship, and that virgin cats are being sacrificed and their blood drunk as some sort of ritual. Kamal saw the opportunity to get fame and recognition for uncovering this “terrible” movement and attended one of the metal shows back then, which were perfectly legal. He took many pictures at that show in 1997 with a film camera, which did not have any auto corrections of red eye in its photographs. Rose-El Youssef then only published the pictures with the red eye appearing on people’s faces at the show and captioned the pictures with “Children of the Devil are possessed at a Devil worshipping mass!”

At the time, there was a strong rise in terrorism; only a few years earlier, there had been an attempt to attack the World Trade Center in New York.  The Egyptian media took the opportunity to talk about something else to keep the “sheep” in check, and have them worry about something else, “coincidentally” something on the opposite spectrum: “Devil Worship”. Unfortunately, things became difficult, and hundreds of metalheads were uprooted from their homes, taken to jail, and tortured. They spent a month in jail, living in hard conditions, and put in the cell adjacent to that of actual terrorists. After 30 days, they were found innocent and let go, but the government did nothing to compensate for the suffering they caused. And many of those people stopped listening to metal and wanted no association with it whatsoever.
For years, metal was taboo. You couldn’t walk around in Egypt wearing metal shirts because most likely you would get spit on.

Eventually, a new generation arose. Those are people who were mere children during the mass arrests of ‘97. So, they didn’t have the actual experience of being tortured or imprisoned. To them, these events are simply urban legends, and a lot of them pretend to have been somehow part of it.

Fast-forward to now, with the Inquisition show. History simply repeated itself; however, there is a very big twist here that is truly unbelievable.

When metal bands started to appear in the 2000s, they were made to be government friendly, which to me is the most un-metal thing you could ever possibly do, and everything was “safe”. It’s like a horror movie with nothing scary in it, but in general, it was bands that have government connections. For example, their fathers are some government officials or so. They also came from rich families, which meant they could hit up European festivals and do “buy-on” shows.  “Buy-on” is when you pay a touring agency to put you on a tour with a big band, but the playing slot is completely useless, because they make you play at around 4 PM, 6 PM if you’re lucky. And nobody watches them, except the big band’s crew because the performance is relatively early. However, they do get to have their name on the touring poster. They end up looking like rock stars in the Middle East because they “made it”. But the reality of it is that they didn’t make anything, but rather bought their way to the slot. At these huge festivals, they take a selfie with a large crowd behind them, but the crowd really isn’t there for them at all. In fact, the audience is probably still nurturing their hangovers from the previous night. Still, they get to go home and pretend that they are heroes. Good for them, I guess.

Now that was some background information that people should keep in mind, when reading the rest of this because it really delves into the childish acts that are to come.

In Aborted’s show in Egypt last year, the venue took 75% of the ticket income, and then lied to me about how many tickets sold. The venue also has some extremely unusual rules, like no press allowed for Metal shows and no photography. They also allow former employees to walk in and bring friends but do not charge them the ticket price. I watched as these people pushed away the security, just walked in backstage, and tried to hang out with the band. I had to kick them out myself! The thing that bothers me is that the owner of the venue is a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, which is a terrorist organization covered under the veil of extreme piousness. I decided I wanted nothing to do with this venue and found another spot for the Inquisition show.

This other spot was the Amoun Hotel, a hotel with a good performance space, usually reserved for weddings. I approached them, and they liked the idea. They asked me to get the proper permits, which I did. After I got the permits from the government, I announced the show and the location. After learning about the show, Wael Ossama, Usama Ahmed (The organizer of Metalblast), and failed musician Sharif Marzaban contacted a journalist, and told him about the Inquistion gig and its location.

Now watch as history repeats: This time you have three individuals, all with very little to no success in their work, who then called a journalist also seeking fame. This journalist went and threatened the Amoun Hotel’s owner and told him, “If you let this show happen, I will write an article saying you worship the devil.” Of course, this scared the hotel owner and he apologized to me for not being able to host the show, despite me having the proper permits from the government. I had not yet obtained the permits from the Musician’s Syndicate, nor did I have to at this stage; however, I did try and they kept telling me, “You’re too early. Come next week.” Which I did; week after week, I went and they finally they told me, “If you have the money, we can make the permit the day of the show if we have to. We just want the payment.” This made me wonder why they wouldn’t simply take the money, but apparently, because it was around New Year’s, they were simply too “busy”.

Anyway, I got that call that the hotel, despite having the governmental permits, which again at this point were all I needed, could not host the Inquisition show.  I was on my way to the US, where I had a few shows lined up, so from there, I had to figure out a new space for the show. I was then told about a space in which The British Council ( a British cultural institute) and Pro Helvetia (a Swiss cultural institute) had held events. I got the venue’s contact information and called them. The originally-planned show date was on the 20th of February, but the venue was booked for something else on that day. So, the only thing I could do was make the show on the 19th. Then, I decided to let people know by direct contact through me and my friends about the new location and date of the show, including all the people who had brought presale tickets. People who were going to the show were informed about the situation, and all the information about the location and time was given to them. People attended the show, and it went really well. Honestly, I was surprised at how many people showed up; it was a lot of people, considering the fear and terror that was spread by some of the media prior to the show. The show went really great, and I honestly consider it to be a milestone in the history of metal in Egypt.

As for the permits, the new venue in fact had assured me that they’ve paid the syndicate 10,000 Egyptian Pounds, which just so happens to be what the syndicate did in fact ask for.
Two days later, I wake up to see one of the most lie-ridden posts published by someone who is supposed to be respectable: the head of the musicians syndicate in Egypt. He claimed that he personally intercepted and shut down a “satanic ritual in the form of music”. He also mentioned that the event had a Qatari and Bahraini DJ, and people wearing the Star of David. He also mentioned the originally-planned show date and wrong venue. This all points clearly to the fact that he was lied to. No one was Bahraini or Qatari at the show, and no Stars of David were there, obviously. However, the mentioning of these nationalities was a tool to gain the trust of some of the Egyptian people through the country’s politics. In addition, the show actually happened with so much of a glitch that no one was arrested. It was obvious that those guys who wanted to ruin the show had contacted Hany Shaker, the head of the Musicians’ Syndicate, and tried to get my show shut down. They failed.  It’s also obvious because one of the people who was against me realized that that this “uproar” was initiated because of personal issues, and not that they actually care about the scene or about any of the stuff that they are saying publicly. This is just a cover for their own personal agenda. Anyway, after a major media backlash, the head of the syndicate retracted and changed his statements not once, but at least 5 times. First, he took back the claim that they (the Syndicate) actually cancelled it. Then, he took back the claim that it was a satanic mass. Later, he said that what happened was that I didn’t get the proper permits, and since they hold the stubs to the permits, no one can really argue with that. I now have no respect for the Musicians’ Syndicate after they lied and continually changed their statements to save face.

I consider these people, the failed metal musicians and organizers who wanted this show to be shut-down, as terrorists. Why? Because the definition of terrorism is spreading fear in order to achieve a political gain and sway public opinion to have their demands met. It is not just blowing up buildings or chopping people’s heads off. They spread fear and threats in order to achieve what they want, just like any terrorist group. They are cultural terrorists.
So, Mafia-style, this group of people went and continued spreading their lies.

2-     The Dark Fortress show did not happen as planned. What can you tell us about that?

The show happened, but the “practitioners of backwardness”, as a friend of mine calls them (i.e. the same people who tried to shut down the Inquisition show), would call and threaten every venue and rehearsal space and even equipment rental place. They would tell the owners of these businesses and venues that we (Dark Fortress and my band) are going to cause them problems if they work with us. I would keep finding people wanting to work with me, who would tell me, “Yeah, we don’t care about the Syndicate. They’re corrupt anyways”. Then, right before closing the deal, they would act erratic and apologize. Again, it was obvious that they were threatened by someone or a group of people in a position of relatively high power, which ended up causing a problem for us to do the show.

The next day, however, we found a place and the necessary equipment to do the show, and we did it. There’s not a damn thing anyone can do about that now! Because of this, though, hundreds of people are pissed off to know that Dark Fortress actually made it to Egypt yet then the main event was cancelled. And we had to revert to doing it in secrecy, which is neither illegal nor wrong. It just sucked. Of course, I wasn’t able to promote this on the page because had I done that, they would have threatened the owners of the place. However, the show must go on, and this was my only choice. 

I also want to add that on public television, I asked the head of the Musicians’ Syndicate to apologize, not to me, but to the people whose lives he ruined with his irresponsible and invalid claims.  People got fired from their jobs because their pictures appeared on those gross tabloid papers claiming they were devil worshippers. Another good point to mention is that if you follow closely, what’s going on, you’ll notice that the only media that supports these guys’ cause is Dotmsr, a company owned by Abdallah Kamal, the same guy who created the fiasco back in 1997. All other intellectual media are backing me up. Who is also backing me up? A huge number of the people who, in 1997, were falsely accused of and imprisoned for devil worship support me. They send me messages, encouraging me and doing their best to support me. In fact, some of them helped sponsor the shows. 

As far as getting the permits this time around, I actually went to the Syndicate, and we agreed to start a new chapter, be friends, and start from scratch. We agreed that we were both lied to and taken advantage of and were pitted against each other by the jealous competition. I was ready to make the payment personally this time. However, when I met with them the next day, they had a different tone with me and were not as welcoming as they were the day before. They then asked for $500 per musician playing at that show. I laughed right in their face and told them that it is illegal to do so. It looks like we’re back to square one. I told them I’m not paying it, and that I’m doing the show anyway, and left. I spoke to a judge who told me that what they are doing is illegal and that they need to submit papers as to why all of a sudden musician has to pay $500 to play a show in Egypt. The judge also assured me that what I’m doing is not illegal, as the only  power the syndicate has at this point is to go around and threaten people, Mafia-style, which is what they’ve been doing.



3-     You seem to be revolutionizing the Egyptian (and Middle Eastern) metal scene. What’s next? 

Finishing up my new EP, which I’m so excited to finally release! It has the best line up I’ve ever put together, from Glen Benton to Derek Roddy and many more.

4-     What’s your favorite song to perform live?

Probably Entropy Eternal. It just gets so fast, and I feel insane having to squeeze together all these words so quickly.

5-     Is there anything else you can tell us about your upcoming release?

Yeah it’s titled Malefic: Chapter II, and it’s a true hybrid of all the subgenres of metal –black, death, and doom. With Malefic: Chapter III, it wasn’t so much a hybrid of subgenres in each song, as much as each song being individually from a different genre. For example, “Deformation” is a straight up brutal Death Metal song, followed by “Carrion”, a black metal song, and then Entropy, a thrash track, and finally, “Descent”, which is doom. In Malefic: Chapter II, each song truly contains different elements from the subgenres.

6-     Any words for the readers of Metality?

Yes, I want to add that the day after the Inquisition show, I took the members of Inquisition to the Pyramids and asked them to put on their corpse paint. Then we walked around the streets of Cairo, and many people gathered around us and were asking me to take pictures of them with the band. They would ask me who are those guys: Wrestlers? Artists?  And I would say, “No, they’re musicians.” And the eyes of the people would light up, and they would get excited. One man asked me to take a picture of his daughter with them. I want to make this very clear because it is really quite important. None of these people, and there were many, from all walks of life as well as tourists and farmers in the area, accused them of devil worship.No one tried to make the situation negative. And, what am I trying to prove with this? I want to prove that the Egyptian people in their hearts and minds are good people. They are curious, and they have no qualms with a band like Inquisition, with their make-up and image. The fear, panic, and problems that were caused, believe it or not, came from so-called metalheads who tried to get us arrested and thrown in jail.



Now, I want you to imagine what would have happened if Perversion, Inquisition, myself, and everyone at that show would have gotten arrested. And why didn’t we? Because I had secured everything, including a paper from the government itself, which means this: The government doesn’t care, nor do the people. The problem is simply that the “competition” can’t handle the fact that within 6 months, I achieved what others in Egypt hadn’t been able to achieve in 10 years. Using lies, spreading fear and panic, those guys are solely responsible for this mess. I do want to sincerely apologize to those who were unable to make it to the secret show, and you certainly deserve better than that!

I also want to ask the people reading this: Who do you believe? A man who went in front of 90 million people and lied, took back his lies, covered them with other lies, then retracted those, and covered them up with more lies? Or the guy whose stuck to the same story? You choose, and either way, I honestly don’t care. I feel bad for the head of the Syndicate, because he’s proven to the whole country that’s he’s ignorant and easily manipulated.

To the metal scene in the Middle East, I want to say that I'm doing the best I can for my brothers and sisters in that scene. And I don't mean just the fans, but also the bands as well. You have these great bands, who didn't use their rich parents' money or government corruption to make it somewhere in the scene. They're just really fucking good bands. Good bands like Perversion, Lelahell, Smouldering in Forgotten, Blaakyum, Perpetual Ferocity, and Voice of the Soul, to name a few. None of them have had help from their parents' money or something sketchy to get them where they are. These are the bands I want to help. I personally do not feel the need to compete or go against people, who could, as a team with all of us, do some really amazing stuff and kick ass. Unfortunately, there's bands that try to keep the scene divided and seperated so they can keep the spotlight to themselves. To those bands, I say that I'm not going to stop. We can have a great and powerful metal scene in the Middle East, so we can show the world that it is not some backwards terrorist pit. We want to show that this place respects itself and the value of human life and expression. If we continue to self-censor and make everything safe, then we are actually perpetuating this kind of censorship. 





VIDEO PREMIERE: DIMLIGHT - INVOKING THE HUNTER


Greece's Symphonic Dark/Death Metal band Dimlight have released a music video for their song "Invoking the Hunter" from their latest album The Lost Chapters.

The music video depicts the tale of the Egyptian goddess Hathor, and creates the perfect dark atmosphere for Dimlight's music.

Watch the video here:

 


It is also important to note that Dimlight will be performing in Dubai on April 15 with local bands. Find more about that here.

You can find Dimlight on Facebook here

UPCOMING SHOW: BLAST NIGHT 2




The Dubai metal scene is back in action! JoScene is bringing you Blast Night II on Friday April 15 at The Music Room, with headliners Dimlight from Greece, performing their own brand of Symphonic Death Metal. They are joined on stage by Dubai-based bands Verdict (Melodic Death Metal), Pull Box (Nu-Metal), and newcomers Angmar (Doom/Death Metal)!

If you're around, you can't miss out on this event that will rock your socks off! Be there or be square!
You can find the event page on Facebook here

UNITY AGAINST ATROCITY: IN SUPPORT OF JOSCENE AND METAL EAST RECORDS



It is no surprise that the UAE Metal scene has been hosting international bands, especially in the last 2 decades, witnessing a hiatus for a few years until Circle II Circle came to Dubai and Black Sabbath to Abu Dhabi in 2014, followed by a series of locally organized events.

One of the most remarkable and long-awaited events was organized by JoScene and Metal East Records: Vader live in Dubai, that got cancelled with no official statement giving an explanation as to why the event got cancelled. German power metal band Steel Engraved were also scheduled to play, while one half of Voice of the Soul flew in from Lebanon, and ex-Monuments drummer Mike Malyan flew in from London to play drums for Benevolent. So the organizers held their breath for a few months and stood back steady on their feet to bring us Aborted. A few days after everyone hailed the organizers for bringing Aborted to Dubai, JoScene announced, on their Facebook event page, that Aborted’s performance on Halloween night will no longer take place. The event took place but with Verdict filling the bill alongside Svengali and Coat Of Arms.

After the announcement, we contacted Muhammad Jaber - founder of JoScene - and asked him some questions for clarifications. He told us that “what happened looked like it was because of an angry parent, but actually it wasn’t! What exactly happened is that someone made a fake email under a fake name and complained about the band lyrical theme and about how they are letting the organizers do such an event.”

However, those accusations were kind of fishy. According to Jaber, they tracked down the email from the “angry parent” and found out a few interesting stuff:

The name used is very common in UAE.
It isn’t really believable that a 21-year-old guy is begging his parents to go to a concert - which was in the context of the email – therefore, the father decided to check the band out.
The email was sent directly to the venue manager, noting that no one knows his email address except for those who worked with him.
The IP address of the email came from Poland, “and we all know who moved recently there,” said Muhammad.


Even though those accusations were only sent to the venue, JoScene decided to pull the plug on Aborted’s performance not because of “the venue nor from the government [...] But we did this because in March when the same thing happened [with Vader’s gig] and someone went to the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) and complained, things got serious with the government, and to avoid having the same thing with the CID we decided not to risk it and just to call it off.”

Then, only a few months later, Metal East Records brought Insomnium to Dubai and the concert was a major success, where everyone thought things went back to normal. As Moutassem - founder of Metal East Records - said, he wanted to play it smart and bring “clean bands” to the scene, such as Swallow the Sun; “there’s no question mark about their lyrics and performance.” But still, someone is very persistent to bring the scene down, so we gathered with him and with Jaber to know more details about the cancellation of 3 big events.

Getting an international Metal band to the Middle East is not an easy task, especially when you’re not being sponsored and only depending on the tickets to cover your expenses. Their only concern is financial as Jaber confirmed, but anything else worked fine, since bands are excited to perform in a new region and meet more fans.

On the other hand, Swallow the Sun had a different story. On January 27th, Moutassem received a call from the venue manager telling him that the permission to hold the concert was rejected. He went back and forth from the Tourism Department to the authority that cancelled the concert for a few days until they agreed to meet him. The reason behind the permission cancellation was due to a complaint that was accusing the band as “promoters of devil worshipping.” Then it was found out that the rejection came from a higher authority so there was nothing to be done.

Now, since it’s the third time to get their event cancelled, there’s no direct plan of what they will be doing to stop the cancellation, and therefore, losing a huge amount of money. “We will keep doing what we are doing, we can only wish they could get a life soon, so UAE metal scene could breathe again.”

As Middle Eastern magazines we condemn heavily what happened here and also in Egypt; this charade must stop. And if it was true what  Muhammed Jaber hinting about what happened and that it was from within the scene and from other jealous organizers, we have to force on that such behavior will only deteriorate the scene to all of us including who is trying to “WIN?” a competition in the market (as stupid as silly as it sounds because I thought we already grew up from our kindergarten years). Even though and as our responsibility as journalists we will keep our online spaces for any respond from the people who were hinted to in this article to express their natural right or reply.

And finally in the midst of all what happened we can only wish for the best to our scene and as it seems that brighter... oh well darker days are coming.

Stay Heavy and Stay Metal \m/

Written by: NJ (Rock Era) |  TP (Metal Bell)
Edited by: Kareem (Metality) | Davina (Metal Bell)

UPCOMING EVENT: SWALLOW THE SUN LIVE IN DUBAI (UPDATED)









IMPORTANT UPDATE: SHOW IS EFFECTIVELY CANCELLED, BUT DIFFERENT LINE-UP WILL PERFORM. SWALLOW THE SUN MEMBERS WILL STILL BE THERE AS GUESTS. DETAILS HERE

After their Finnish brethren Insomnium conquered the stage in Dubai a few weeks ago, Swallow the Sun will be laying doom and gloom in the same city with their first show in the region.
On Friday, February 12th, the Finnish six-piece doom metal outfit will bring an atmosphere of both despair and hope to The Music Room's stage at the Majestic Hotel in Dubai. Joining them onstage will be Jordanian metal act Bilocate and locally-based oriental doom band Aramaic. This event is also organized by Metal East Records, who seem to be springing the Dubai metal scene to wonderous heights with such line-ups. This is, of course, an event that is not to be missed!

You can find the event page on Facebook here.
Band Facebook pages: Bilocate, Aramaic, and Swallow the Sun.
Organizer's Facebook page: Metal East Records.

Some samples of the participating bands' music below:














UPCOMING EVENT: NADER SADEK LIVE IN BEIRUT


UPDATE: The show has been postponed to the second half of April for personal reasons related to some of the performers. It will still happen, and we will update you as we get more details.


Metalheads of Lebanon, gear up for the sickest metal event in Lebanon yet!
On the 27th of February, the extreme metal pioneer from Egypt, Nader Sadek, will rock Beirut's Metro Al Madina, supported by progressive death metallers Voice of the Soul, thrash band Phenomy, and technical death metal group Hemorrhagia. This event, dubbed the Middle Eastern Metal Gathering, is organized by Lebanon's Metal Bell Magazine.

Holy shit! I kid you not but Nader Sadek's group will include guitarist Tom Geldschläger (ex-Obscura) and drummer Derek Roddy (ex-Hate Eternal, Malevolent Creation, Nile)!

If you're in Lebanon and aren't living under a rock, then you better be at this event!
Event link: https://goo.gl/99euQz

INSOMNIUM LIVE IN DUBAI [REVIEW]

Insomnium at The Music Room. Photo credits: The Music Room Photographer.


by Habib Tabaja

On the 15th of January, 2016, the frigid winds and frozen beauty of the Finnish wilderness were brought to Dubai’s Music Room by the melodic death metal giants Insomnium, supported by Bahrain’s extreme metal act Smouldering in Forgotten. The show was hosted by Metal East Records, who are bringing over Insomnium’s funeral doom brethren Swallow the Sun to Dubai on February 12th. How was the show, you say? Well, it was stellar and surreal, if you want the short answer.

However, if you want the long and more detailed answer, which I feel does the performing bands and the organizer more justice, I would tell you that, from the start, I knew it was going to be out of this world. Insomnium, a band on a musical journey more than 18 years in the making, have come a long a long way from their humble roots to become a band renowned in the worldwide metal scene. Smouldering in Forgotten, the Bahraini band that warmed up the stage for their Finnish counterparts, stood proud as one of the first and most recognized extreme metal groups in the region and have been around for more than 10 years.


Smouldering in Forgotten rocking the stage. Photo credits: Metal Bell Magazine.

Soon after the fans filled the Music Room’s relatively small albeit comfortable and welcoming space, Smouldering in Forgotten took to the stage to unleash musical chaos and darkness from their desert homeland, combining a variety of metal styles such as black, death, and thrash, along with their own touch. The band played some of their older tracks such as “Dread Messiah”, “Reincarnation of the Judgment Star” and “I, Devourer”, as well as unreleased ones from their upcoming album, which were  “Cult De Aur” and “Tartarus”. They also played their recently released single “Siren of Truth”. Their performance, especially in the last two songs, resulted in extreme moshing and headbanging, echoing memories of their show in last March’s Resurrection Metal Night. I was particularly glad I could hear their black metal elements well in their songs, allowing for an atmosphere of musical destruction and reconstruction with well-timed riffs. Their performance affirmed my assumptions that they are, quite indeed, an underrated band.


Markus Vanhala of Insomnium on stage. Photo Credits: The Music Room Photographer.

Insomnium on stage. Photo Credits: The Music Room Photographer. 

When it was time for Insomnium to ascend to the stage, the crowd fell silent as the opening for “While We Sleep” rang through the venue, but what followed next was beautiful chaos that echoed the deadly beauty of the Finnish winter, as the mesmerizing riffs tore through the audience, with all of the band’s members headbanging in unison. The choice of the next song they played surprised us, as the ever-magnificent and melancholic “Daughter of the Moon” was not played by the band in their last few shows. The brilliant riffs of that song as well as the song’s saturnine atmosphere put the crowd into a trance of surreal musical beauty. The Finnish quartet also played crowd favorites such as “Mortal Share” with its addictive introductory riff and headbang-incuding tunes. Songs such as “The Harrowing Years”, “Where the Last Wave Broke”, and “One for Sorrow” demonstrated the sheer beauty of blending Ville Friman’s cleans with Niilo Sevanen’s growls and the magnificent keyboard sounds that dominated “Down with the Sun”. Another powerful song they performed was “The Killjoy” that destroyed the crowd with its brutal, yet majestic sounds. “Unsung” gave me goosebumps as it, in my opinion, is a song that perfectly portrays Insomnium’s take on melodic death and doom metal. In addition, “Weather the Storm” was another wonderfully-performed song that would have been even more amazing if Dark Tranquillity’s Mikael Stanne was around to do his part of the song’s vocals, but Niilo’s vocals were equally as haunting and menacing in their own way. Among their relatively quieter songs, their performance of “The Promethean Song” takes the cake in its beautiful acoustic sounds and dark ambience. It was a beautiful yet haunting, a powerful yet dark, and brutal yet melancholic performance that transcended the meaning of music, and brought us into the heart of the Finnish woods and frozen lakes.

Insomnium thanking their fans after their set. Credits: The Music Room.





Finally, it is safe to say this was the best show I’ve witnessed so far in Dubai, and Insomnium’s promise of their return here as well as Swallow the Sun’s impending performance next month mean one thing: The Middle Eastern metal scene is alive, and both local and international bands are going to benefit from this, and the fans here will be happier than ever!

If you missed it for whatever reason, then I feel very sorry for you. It was an unforgettable experience.

Here’s to more awesome shows like this one! 

UPCOMING EVENT: MASTERS OF THE MIDDLE EAST 1

Presenting itself as the first bi-annual metal festival in the region, Masters of the Middle East brings together a host of various bands for Egypt's metal fans on February 20th at 6:30 pm at the Amoun Hotel in Giza's Midan Sphinx. Bands on the bill include headliners Inquisition, the infamous American black metal band with their first show in the Middle East, as well as Egyptian-American extreme music act Nader Sadek, joined by death metal band Perversion (UAE), extreme metal band Smouldering in Forgotten (Bahrain), and melodic death metal group Al-Azif (Egypt).

This event is set to be a significant step for the Middle Eastern metal scene with such a fantastic lineup of brilliant bands, as well as shed light on the Middle East as a place for more international bands to come.

Metalheads, let's make this show a grand one to remember!

You can find the event page on Facebook here.


Below are some samples of the performing bands' music:
















INTERVIEW WITH INSOMNIUM'S NIILO SEVANEN



A couple of hours before their first show in the Middle East which took place on January 15, Metality’s managing editor Habib Tabaja chatted with Insomnium’s vocalist and bassist Niilo Sevanen. The Finnish melodic death/doom metal giants performed that night in Dubai’s Music Room, supported by Bahrain’s Smouldering in Forgotten, with the show organized by Metal East Records.



Habib: This is your first show ever in the Middle East! So how does Dubai feel like for you guys? Was it anything like you expected? What are your expectations for the show tonight?

Niilo: It’s about what I thought Dubai would be.  It’s awesome to see places you’ve read about with your own eyes. So far, it’s what I thought it would be. No big surprises, but everyone is really friendly and nice. They’ve driven us around the city and showed us around, and we like it. We had a long flight and arrived here in the morning, so we didn’t get any sleep and we’re very tired now. But that doesn’t matter because we’re excited to get on stage, so it doesn’t matter if you’re tired when the adrenalin hits you to do your best for the show. After that, you feel like a winner, so I’m sure it will be a great show and a wonderful evening!

So besides the gig tonight, do you have any other plans in Dubai? Also, the weather here is very different for you, obviously.

Yes! We have this desert safari trip planned for tomorrow, and it’ll take around 7 to 8 hours. We’re excited for that too! And, yes, the weather here is great, especially because in Finland now it’s -25 degrees Celsius or so. The weather here feels like the summer in Finland and it's perfect!

Have you ever heard of or listened to any bands from our region? Do you think it’s surprising that the Middle East has an active metal scene?

I don’t think I’ve heard any bands from this region, but I’ve definitely read some names of them somewhere before. I’m not really surprised by the fact that there’s a metal scene here, because I’ve learned that in every country there is at least some small metal scene somewhere, and we have fans in literally every part of the world. It’s great, because metal unites people across cultures and countries.

I've been listening to Insomnium since 2010, and I've listened to your entire discography hundreds of times over. And it still amazes me. How do you guys keep putting out a unique and fresh record each time?

That’s what we want to do and try to do. We have really high standards in everything that we do, and we don’t want to repeat ourselves. We always want to invent something kind of new. That is, not totally changing everything, but always brining something fresh and making a different kind of album. For a band like AC/DC, for example, repeating themselves works out for them and nobody expects them to change at all. However, for most other bands, it’s better to put out something different and unique each time, to keep things interesting and fresh.

There has been a noticeable shift away from the folk elements present in your first two albums in your past few releases. Will you ever return to them? Or should we expect new elements?

Honestly, it depends on what kind of material we come up with and there might be folk influences, but it’s hard to say. I’m sure, however, that our next work will include a mixture of elements of melodic death metal, black metal, doom metal, folk metal, and thrash metal, in addition to things that we come up with. Then we make our own package of it, until it sounds like Insomnium.

Do you want classify yourselves into a specific genre, or Insomnium is just what it is?

If we have to categorize ourselves, then we are melodic death metal. But, you  always want to add “but”, because we always have influences and elements from other subgenres, like doom and black metal, and I think it’s a great thing. That’s what makes Insomnium a unique band.

I've once shown your lyrics to a couple of English literature professors at my university, and they loved it and asked me which 18th-19th century poet wrote this! Speaking of poetry, your lyrics have been an inspiration and influence for me to write my own English poems. 
What makes you write such powerful pieces that echo the style of the European romantics and gothic literature as well as Finnish poets like Eino Leino?

Both Ville and I read a lot, and we both write the lyrics. We read all kinds of literature, of course. Novels, and poetry and short stories. I love to write poetry and prose. I have two passions in life: music and writing. Those are the things that I extremely love. So, we have very high standards when it comes to lyrics, right from the start. We want the lyrics to work as poetry, even without the music. If you could just read the lyrics, it works as a poem, and there’s some kind of story that develops there, with an ending. And what you said about European romantics and gothic literature and poetry, as well as Finnish poets from 100 years ago, those are all big influences for us. For me personally, the German Romanticism era is a big influence as well, in addition to Eino Leino and Finnish poets from that time. When I read those poems, I feel like they convey similar feelings to the ones that we try to give in our music. It’s a huge source for inspiration.

Do you sit and deliberately force yourself to write lyrics when you have to, or do they just pop into your mind in a rush of creativity and emotion?

It’s hard work, the same as creating any form of art or writing music, but inspiration is a must. There’s creativity there but there’s also a lot of hard work. So you need to sit down and see what you’ve been doing, but also after a while look at it analytically and edit it. Your first draft is always your first draft. In this sense, the biggest difference between the amateur and the professional is how they handle the text after the first draft. It’s not ready when it’s the first draft. Only the idea that you formulated for yourself is what it’s in the first draft, and then you start changing it and making it work. It’s sometimes difficult and you feel like “I have no idea what to write or fix”, and you get writer’s block. It can also be tricky when trying to make the poem change to fit the rhythm for the music, and it takes time to do that. In the end, when you make it work, you feel super good!

Your 2009 album Across the Dark included heavy use of electronic keyboards (which I personally loved). Do you ever plan on using those again? Why or why not?

Again, it depends. I think it mostly has to do with the mixing of the album. There’s usually some keyboards in the background in most of the parts, but they’re not so audible. Maybe that’s one thing, but we shall see when it comes to our future albums. However, I think keyboards are an important part of Insomnium’s music, and you can add a lot of stuff with them that you can’t do with just guitars. We’re definitely going to have keyboards in the future as well.

I feel One for Sorrow was a beautifully well-done masterpiece of melancholy. However, I sensed that Shadows of the Dying Sun seemed to shift towards a bit more positivity. What was the reason behind that, do you think?

It’s hard to analyze that. Songs just come out of somewhere, and this time, they sound like this and the other times they sound different. It’s not intentional, that we decided to make an album sound overly like that. We just start making songs, and something comes out of it. And at some point, when we have like, let’s say 10 songs ready, we would ask ourselves “What is this album missing?” We then see if we need one fast song or one long, epic song to add to the album and whatever else we feel is missing. Up to that point, it’s really free-flowing and natural before being a directed and deliberate album from the start.

You guys have come a long way since your formation in the late 1990's and you've become one of the more recognized and renowned bands in the worldwide metal scene. Is there any advice you think you can give to up-and-coming metal artists in the region?

Believe in yourself and try to find your own voice and style. Of course, everybody starts by imitating their idols, but at some point you should find your own voice, sooner or later. So, try to do that. If you want to stand out amongst all the bands in the world, you have to have something unique about your music, that’s the thing. Making good and unique songs, something that people want to listen to again and again, that’s what’s important to help you establish yourself as a musician.

I've always wondered if you guys listened to anything other than metal. Do you? So is everything not so brutal and KVLT for you?

We listen to all kinds of music, and I think that it’s a bit childish to intentionally and forcefully limit your music choices. Listen to everything you like. If you like only metal, it’s cool; go for it! However, I try to find good stuff from all kinds of music. For example, if we’re touring, and playing metal all the time, with 3 or 4 other heavy bands, in the evening when we’re on the tour bus, we’re not going to listen to metal, so we put on some classic ‘80s pop music or Queen or Michael Jackson, so it’s totally different. I think that’s one important thing when you want to create something very unique because you need to study more than your own genre. This also applies to literature and writing. If you want to be a science fiction writer, for example, you don’t want to just read from your genre, but you need to read the world classics in literature and a large variety of books and literary works. The same thing goes for music.

If you could choose only 5 artists/bands to listen to for the rest of your life (excluding your own band of course), who would they be?

This is a difficult question indeed!
I would say Queen, Emperor, Type O-Negative, Amorphis, and Sentenced. It could be other artists, but those are just what I got off the top of my head right now.

Any words for the readers of Metality as well as for your fans in the Middle East?

We’re really excited to finally get and play here, in this part of the world. And, we hope to get back here soon! Also, for those people who haven’t heard our music, check us out, and open your mind to more bands and genres of music!  

Habib: I want to thank you guys on behalf of Metality, its readers, and the region's metal scene for making it all the way here to play, and for this interview as well.
As a loyal fan, I'm looking forward to seeing you guys live again, and to see what you have in store for us. Thank you for being inspiring musicians and fantastic lyricists! Until next time!

Niilo: Thank you so much!


The show that followed by Insomnium and Smouldering in Forgotten was, of course, beyond amazing! Our review for it will be out soon.