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Interview With Hadi Sarieddine

From Benevolent.



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June 7th

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Aramaic - The Fallen (EP) review

Band: Aramaic
Album: The Fallen (EP)
Genre: Oriental Doom/Death Metal
Country: UAE
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Label: Self-released
Reviewer: Karim Tarek
Rating: 8.5/10

Having been away from the scene for quite a long time, mainly for study duties, it is naturally very hard for any new material to grab my sincere attention and interest towards it, which was exactly what happened Aramaic’s debut EP entitled “The Fallen.”

Hailing from Dubai, UAE, one of the region’s most musically flourishing at the time, Aramaic are an Oriental Death Metal quintet comprising Serge Lutfi on vocals, Fadi Al Shami and Ahmad Rammal on guitars, Rafic JR Abi Saleh on drums, and Michael Al Asmar on bass. The band’s name suggests high influence by the ancient Aramean mythology that roots in the Middle East.

Although the band started a couple of years back, their debut EP is to be released tomorrow and we were lucky enough to receive our press copy for review. The EP consists of three tracks with an approximate playtime of 20 minutes. 

With a highly impressive artwork, that kind of brings Behemoth to the back of my mind, “The Fallen” starts with the title track which has the most oriental vibe of all three tracks. It somewhat signifies an adaptation of old school Death Metal with its downbeat aggression and its punishing heavy riffs. In a nutshell, the lyrics tell an incomplete love story that leaves the lover angry 
and hateful.

Entitled “The Pledge”, the following track came downright faster, more vigorous, and less bleak. It is a war-themed track with fast drum lines, angry dual vocals, and chaotic riffs that gets you pumped during live performances. Although it is the shortest track on the EP, it combines all the elements of the catchiness and solidness of Death Metal music. 

The EP closes with final track called “The Summoning”, one that has a more oriental tinge than its antecedent, and a more epic feeling than the rest of the EP. What is special about this track in particular is its tempo swings; it goes from slow and grim to fast and violent to mid-paced and epic in smooth transitions. To me, this track resembles the Doom Metal influences that the band possess.

Overall, “The Fallen” is one of those EPs you would wish were longer. It showcases the outcome of years of work and dedication from one of the region’s most promising bands. With its high musical and production quality, it will no doubt soon become a fans’ favorite. Moreover, I personally believe that Aramaic will be one of the most important bands in the Middle East if they would continue what they started with the same level of dedication and eagerness. 

Follow Aramaic: Facebook, Bandcamp, Youtube


Time for another interview with a band from this year's Dubai Rock Festival's lineup. After interviewing guitarist Matt Asselbergs from French band Nightmare, we move on to Portugal's Heavenwood. Ricardo Dias is Heavenwood's guitarist and primary songwriter, but also sings for the band. The band was formed in 1996 and has played extensively across Europe (they even played at Wacken). Heavenwood released their fourth album, Abyss Masterpiece (which we reviewed here) in 2011, and are now working on their fifth record. Kareem C had a chat with Ricardo about the new album and playing Dubai for the first time.

So tell us what’s been going on with Heavenwood these days? How’s the new album following “Abyss Masterpiece” so far?

We have been working on our 5th album " The Tarot of the Bohemians -  Part I ", Meanwhile we were at the studio we recorded the advance song " The Juggler ".
This new album will be more structured, some times more aggressive or technical but never forgetting our melodic reference. We will continue having Orchestral melodies, not so present during all the songs as it was on "Abyss Masterpiece". I feel that we "orchestrated" much more the words for the new album..
The lyrics are strong, deep and very introspective. The lyrics will demand some occult and spiritual background to understand the real meaning of them.

This is your first show in Dubai. How excited are you guys? What are you most looking forward to about Dubai Rock Festival 2014?

We feel great and very anxious about it, It´s wonderful, and it´s an honour. I do think that the blend of cultures on this Fest is fantastic, Each band will represent their culture on stage.
Excellent professionals and excellent bands will justify everyone to run to this exotic metal fest!

Which band on the lineup are you most looking forward to seeing?

Nervecell, the others i can check them perhaps on tour in Europe, I´m an old fan of Loudblast since "Disincarnate" album…perhaps one of the first Portuguese with a Loudblast musical experience back in the beginning of the 90´s. 

Heavenwood have had a long history of touring. Any interesting stories you’d like to share with us?

We toured with In Flames and I remember when they show us on cassette the demo from the first Hammerfall album, When i listen to it i remember i compare it with Running Wild but i said to them " This is gonna be a success worldwide, just like you guys." In Flames are one of the biggest metal acts in the world.

What can Dubai’s metal fans expect from Heavenwood’s set?

We will play some strong songs from every Heavenwood album, we will play also the new song "The Juggler", from the new album

Any last words for’s readers?

A strong Portuguese metal hug to all and check Heavenwood if you´re enough of listening only to technical stuff!


Dubai Rock Fest 2014 is a week away, and we couldn't be more excited! One band that we're looking forward to checking out is Nightmare, who rocked out an awesome set at least year's Dubai Rock Festival. Our Editor-in-Chief Kareem C had a chat with Nightmare's guitarist, Matt Asselbergs. Nightmare are one of France's biggest metal bands, and this power metal band is playing its second show in Dubai in two years. Despite that, they're more excited than ever. We talk with Matt about playing Dubai and Nightmare's new album, "The Aftermath"

What’s going on with Nightmare these days? Last time we spoke to you was about a year ago!

Matt: Well, it's been a very busy year full of amazing moments and hard workin days, we are very thankful for what life brings to us and all those great times on the road, like Dubai or the tour with circle II Circle and so on...

How are you guys feeling about playing in Dubai for a second time? What was your first experience like?

Matt: Dubai is such an amazing experience, seems like you're on another planet and the crowd is so fuckin dedicated, metalheads are cool and live their lifetime each concert ! It's really outstanding ! We really like Dubai except for the Infernal heat that you guys have ! How you guys doin' to stay alive? (laughs) 

Nightmare’s second appearance in Dubai will not only be special because it’s your second appearance at the Dubai Rock Festival, but also because you’ll be releasing your new album, “The Aftermath” that night. What can listeners expect from that album?

Matt: We decided to go more Roots on this album, less keyboard and more thrash and heavy riffs, just to return to what we really are in a way... Some crazy classic Heavy Sounds !  we basically kept some keyboard but just to boost the guitars and drums at its best!

What have you guys been listening to these days?

Matt: Good question, I listen to many other kinda music actually, like southern rock with bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, molly hatchet, blackberry Smoke,blackfoot, then I love listenin to Immortal and Bathory, then Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne,Queen, Elton John, Mobb Deep, Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Dubstep and The Doors, CCR, Thin Lizzy,Jazz, Prog every music... I really find interest in any kind of music just because Life is music and each songs, each artists has his music view and feeling...and it's very powerful to get these inspirations as well. The more you're open the more people feel it and follow you.

What other band are you most looking forward to watching at Dubai Rock Festival 2014?

Matt: (Laughs) We are with our friends from Loudblast and they really kick some asses, Nervecell is an amazing band also and I will check the other bands live I prefer to see them live. But the other bands rocks to ground also for sure!!!

Any interesting tour stories you’d like to share with us?

Matt: Hum...there are many stories as usual but one is funny, we were playing at the 70 000 tons of metal last year and I get sick I got fever, and we were just arrived to the landing point were everyone can take some rest on a beautiful island where you drink only pina colada under a hot sun if you see what I mean...after a few drink I decided to go back to the boat because I was feeling not even better...during the road back to the boat I just felt on the floor, loose conscience and found myself with two Big guys who were holding me in the front of my room saying “are you ok now”? I was just a piece of shit at this moment (laughs) I just pee on myself because my body just left me for a few seconds...anyway that's one story...but I think we could make a book called The Nightmare Stories 1979-2014 I’m sure we can become millionaires (laughs).

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Any final comments for readers?

Matt: Well guys, be ready because Loudblast and Nightmare are coming in 10 days and you guys gonna have some heavy depth problem after that (laughs) just kiddin !! Bang your head against the stage ! Love ya all!

Dubai Rock Festival 2014 will take place at Al Nasr Leisureland in Dubai on May 23rd. Tickets are available at Virgin Megastores in Dubai, Hard Rock Cafe, and at the door. Click here for more information.


Dubai's Oriental Death/Doom metal band, Aramaic have revealed their debut EP art, tracklist, and release date. The band, comprised of guitarist Fadi Al Shami, vocalist Serge Lutfi, and bassist Michael Al Asmar have recorded their debut EP, The Fallen, at Haven Studio in Dubai. The artwork was done by MHD Graphics, and it looks really sick. We're definitely looking forward to checking out The Fallen, which will be released in less than a month on June 10th.

Artwork by MHD Graphics

1. The Fallen

2. The Pledge

3. The Summoning

Check out this video teaser for Aramaic, and keep up with them:


We recently found out that some metal fans in the Middle East flew all the way to Florida to take part in the 70000 Tons of Metal Cruise, which is basically a huge metal festival on a boat cruise. We met Nahla, an Egyptian photographer and metal enthusiast who got a chance to go, take some killer pictures, and meet some of the bands. We decided to have a chat with her and have her share her experience with Metality's readers.

Photo courtesy of Nahla
What got you interested in photography and metal?

Photos have the incredible ability to freeze a moment, not just showing how something looked, but also makes you recall how it felt. And since everyone sees things differently, I like to register my own emotions and memories.

What got me interested into this kind of music is something that cannot be put into words, everyone gets dragged into certain music when they feel the tones, beats, melodies or rhythms that identifies them, I remember that Manowar, Savatage and Iron Maiden were the first bands that got me into metal music, This was back in like 1994.

Tell us about your experience at 70000 tons of metal. Apart from checking out the bands, how did you spend your time on the cruise?

It has been quite an experience. The cruise “Majesty of the Seas” sailed from Miami to Costa Maya in Mexico with 2000 metal heads from all over the world, and 41 bands playing two sets, each on a different stage and different day.
It had 3 stages with perfect sound, many dining rooms, bars, karaoke and a casino.

What I enjoyed the most was to hang out at the karaoke lounge after the shows, it’s the perfect place for everybody, where most of the bands are gathered, singing and dancing all the night with everybody till morning, it’s the greatest atmosphere you can imagine.

Carcass - Photo courtesy of Nahla
Which band had the best set in your opinion?

Definitely Septic Flesh I was quite overwhelmed by their symphonic set, they played many songs from “The Great Mass” and some of the old remarkable songs “Anubis” and “Persepolis” 

Carcass played an awesome show and the entire deck was jumping when they surprised everybody and played for the first time a cover for Amon Amarth – The Pursuit of Vikings. 

One of the things that attracted me was the new singer of Xandria - Dianne van Giersbergen-, she just joined the band a couple of months ago, and everybody got impressed by her performance on stage.

What are some of your favorite bands, both international and Middle Eastern? 

Pink Floyd are always on the top of my list, then comes lots of metal bands like Therion, Night Wish, Rammestein, Slayer, Kamelot,  Blind Guardian, Dream Theater, Moonspell, Amon Amarth…etc , I was lucky enough to see Amon Amarth on the cruise pre-party , great crowd response, lots of mosh pits and crowd surfing was going during all the show.

Middle Eastern bands, Myrath are my favorite so far, I also like Ascendant, Anarchy, Crescent, Kimaera and Blaakyum.

Are you heading to anymore metal festivals over the summer?

I got my ticket to Wacken after being on the waiting list for some time. Might also go to Metal Days or Brutal Assault.

Swallow the Sun - Photo courtesy of Nahla


Band: Svengali
Album: Unscathed (EP)
Genre: Melodic Hardcore
Country: UAE
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Label: Self-Released
Reviewer: Kareem C

Svengali are a new and interesting band from the Dubai scene that has garnered attention and support since releasing some of their demo tracks last fall. The band is comprised of three musicians with diverse musical backgrounds: Adnan Mryhij (vocals), Fadi Al Shami (guitar, clean vocals), and JM Elias (guitar). The 6 tracks on the band's EP, Unscathed, clearly show the different influences, combining hardcore music with more melodic elements, making it a very impressive debut release. 

One of the strongest points of the album is the catchy choruses that easily keep the listeners hooked, usually sung by Al Shami, which is quite evident in Embrace. That said, the chorus that really did it for me was on The End, featuring Ishtar. She and Al Shami did a really great job singing together. The additional melodic elements in that song made it sound massive.

But don't get me wrong, this album is heavy, and I do mean HEAVY. The incredibly tight sounding breakdowns and guitar riffs paired with Mryhij's vocals will easily open up pits at any venue. One track that demonstrates this and that has become my favorite is Freefall. I think "orthodox" hardcore fans will dig tracks like Ophidia a bit more though.

I'm really impressed with how Svengali came out with such a solid sounding release in such a short period of time. While the tracks all share some unique elements, they all have their own twists to them, making the band anything but a one-trick pony. 

The EP is available on multiple platforms, including Svengali's Bandcamp page. I highly recommend all metal listeners to give this album a go. 

I give Unscathed a 7.5/10.

Keep up with Svengali: 


Photography by Adnan Mryhij
Logo by Edi Udo

UAE-based metal band Voice of the Soul will start recording their debut full-length album in April at Haven Studio in Dubai, almost 3 years after their 2011 EP release, Into Oblivion. The album will be produced by musician/producer Hadi Sarieddine.

Guitarist and long-time member Monish Shringi comments, “This album will explore new influences compared to past releases. It’s fast, destructive, and reaches newer milestones. Definitely our most diverse and enduring effort.”

The album will also be drummer Khalid Temimi’s first release with Voice of the Soul since joining in January 2012. “It’s new, and it sounds fresh,” says Khalid, “We’ve reached another pinnacle, not only as a band, but as individual musicians. This album will open up one hell of a new chapter for Voice of the Soul!”

Egan O'Rourke (Daylight Dies)
Voice of the Soul are also excited to have Daylight Dies’ bassist and singer, Egan O’Rourke, feature on the album. Guitarist and frontman Kareem Chehayeb commented, “Having Egan involved with us is something I’m really excited about. I’m already ecstatic about recording the new material with Hadi, a good friend of mine, so having one of my favorite singers from one of my favorite bands just takes my excitement to a whole new level.”

Haven Studio’s Hadi Sarieddine is looking forward to producing Voice of the Soul’s debut full-length. Hadi commented, “I’m really stoked about working with Voice of the Soul; besides the fact the guys are my good friends and I’ve known them for a while I really enjoy the band’s material. We’ve been working hard at pre-production and there’s a cool blend of really dark and very melodic moments on the new album, a little bit for fans of different genres of metal. I look forward to producing and engineering it.”

Keep up with Voice of the Soul:


Band: Benevolent
Album: The Covenant
Genre: Extreme Experimental Metal
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Label: Self-Released
Reviewer: Kareem C

Artwork by Edi Udo

Benevolent announced that they were working on their debut full-length in 2011, after releasing their debut EP, Divided, a year earlier. The past three years really felt like an eternity, but the wait is finally over. Since starting in Kuwait, the band recently relocated to Dubai, and has made their presence known there ever since. On March 18, after releasing two tracks available for streaming, Benevolent have finally released The Covenant, and what an album it is. It was definitely worth the wait. With the band’s foundation not changing, with Hadi Sarieddine on guitar and clean vocals, Fadi Sarieddine on vocals, and Mohammad Gad on rhythm guitar, ex-Chimaira drummer Andols Herrick recorded drums for the album.

The Covenant was recorded and mixed at Haven Studio in Dubai, run by Hadi Sarieddine, and was mastered at 4D Sounds by Tesseract’s Acle Kahney.

The Covenant is very different than Divided, but does hold on to its strengths. In songs like The Seeker and The Collector, one might notice that…but that’s really as far as it goes. The Covenant has much more atmosphere in their music, and it’s probably most noticeable in instrumental tracks, Radiate and Dissipate, as well as intro track Void which exclusively features Hadi’s clean vocals.

Hadi’s clean vocals are definitely more prominent on The Covenant than in Divided, and are harmonized much more uniquely. I think we’ll be seeing them more in future Benevolent material. That said, Fadi’s harsh vocals sound better than ever (editor’s note: Listen to the pre-chorus on The Seeker).

Another thing I noticed was Mohammad Gad taking over on guitar, and actually throwing in a few solos himself. Those can be found on The Collector and Heathen, the latter being one of my favorite tracks on the album. They’re very well done. He can shred. While both Hadi and Mohammad’s solos have some serious chops, they’re well-phrased and have lots of soulful moments. Good stuff.

I don’t need to say much about Andols Herrick’s drumming, do I?

The Covenant is a sick, sick, sick (see what I did there?) album. Some of the tracks exceed 8 and even 9 minutes. Benevolent basically took their heavy, evil sounding Meshuggah-like riffs, and combined them with beautiful atmospheric elements that you might notice in Tesseract. There are more bands in the Middle East that are (thankfully) raising the bar a little higher with each release, and Benevolant are one of them.

I give The Covenant an 8.5/10.

Favorite tracks: Heathen, Asphyxia, Dissipate

Keep up with the latest on Benevolent:

Why We Shouldn't Freak Out About Angela Leaving Arch Enemy

For those living under a rock, Swedish melodic death metal legends Arch Enemy have unveiled their new video featuring new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz (ex-The Agonist). We brought in guest writer, Sary Bibi, to give us his two cents on Arch Enemy's lineup change. Sary's commentary begins after the video.

If you missed the news, Arch Enemy have recruited Alissa White-Gluz, formerly of Canadian metal band The Agonist, to be the new frontwoman for Arch Enemy. Angela Gossow has stepped down to focus on her family and pursue other interests, though she did state she would remain the business manager for Arch Enemy.

This announcement took a lot of people by surprise, and a lot of fans have been quick to shoot down Alissa’s opportunity and talent based on some of her work with The Agonist. Particularly, people are worried that Alissa will be bringing clean vocals into a band like Arch Enemy which has never utilized them before. Based on their new song/video for “Eternal War”, these assumptions can be safely put to rest (for now). And to those still skeptical, I need to point out a few things.

Firstly, Angela Gossow is still the manager of the band and in that sense, she probably had a big role in selecting her replacement. She knows more than any other person what kind of person and vocal skills are needed for Arch Enemy. Based on the press release, it can also be inferred that Angela has tutored or even given vocal tips for Alissa throughout the years. So by picking Alissa as the replacement, Angela has given her own “blessing” and seal of approval that Alissa is worthy of the role of being the vocalist of Arch Enemy.

Secondly, while people only look at some songs of The Agonist and jumps to conclusions that she isn’t the right fit, people aren’t familiar enough with the band to recognize the immense talent Alissa has. Her vocal range is pretty impressive:

Alissa is very versatile vocally and cannot only do the type of vocals (high screams, low growls, etc) needed for Arch Enemy, but also a very talented range of clean vocals. As someone who has also seen The Agonist and Alissa live, she can definitely deliver a commanding and strong stage presence while flawlessly delivering the same type of vocals heard on their studio recordings.

Lastly, at the end of the day, she is the new vocalist for Arch Enemy and will be on the new album Eternal War. People will have to accept the change and give her a chance with an open mind. Is she Angela Gossow? Obviously not, but she’s definitely a good person to take the band forward and continue the strong musical legacy of Arch Enemy.

On the flipside, The Agonist have moved on and recruited Vicky Psarkis to replace Alissa. Not much is known about Vicky but vocal covers of The Agonist shows she has a lot of potential for the band.. Hopefully she’ll be able to move the band forward. (editors note: I wonder how Psarkis would sound with Arch Enemy...)