SLAYER Guitarist, Jeff Hanneman, Passes Away

At the Age of 49

NIGHTWISH To Perform In Beirut

At Byblos Film Festival

Interview With Hadi Sarieddine

From Benevolent.

Interview With KAREEM CHEHAYEB

(VOICE OF THE SOUL)

LARS ULRICH Offers Update

On METALLICA's Next Album

EPICA To Perform At DUBAI ROCK FEST 2013

June 7th

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COAT OF ARMS - A SHADE OF RED [REVIEW]



Album: A Shade of Red
Band: Coat of Arms
Label: None (Independent)
Release Date: 20 April 2015
Reviewer: Habib Tabaja and Kareem C



With a new, different sound, the UAE/Qatar-based industrial/metalcore band Coat of Arms have redefined their musical direction in their third album, A Shade of Red. The successor to 2013's Suns and Satellites boasts 10 tracks and more overtly social lyrical themes.

 A Shade of Red seems to predominantly carry djent influences, most notably those of Periphery, aligned with more metalcore-style vocals and breakdowns. A Shade of Red’s opening track, "Silence the Sensor", was released a little before the rest of the album. It’s no short of groovy riffs and tons of electronic synth and noise to give the track an extra punch. Bailouni’s vocal-range has definitely widened, and listeners familiar to Coat of Arms will recognize his catchy clean vocal melodies in the chorus. Silence the Sensor’s straightforward song structure doesn’t apply across the board though, with some songs such as Trade Lie Census throwing a few curve-balls, which is always good.

The band also demonstrates their softer side, which is evident in the song "Shelter" that is devoid of any growls/screams. In this song, vocalist Mohammad Bailouni exhibits a wonderful range of clean singing accompanied by electronic keyboards and progressive metalcore riffs, along with several djent-like elements. I would call this the most metalcore song of the album (in a good way).

Another track of note is "Never Been Clear", which is the final song on the album. A more djent-inspired track with fierce vocals and fast-pased riffs, it demonstrates the diverse musical elements of Coat of Arms as a band that incorporates several genres. In addition, the drumming is on-point and sets the rhythm of the song. A quiet, ambient interlude occurs towards the second half of the song, accentuating the immersion of the music. It is definitely my favorite track from this album, in a sense that it shows what Coat of Arms is all about.

Overall, it is a solid, powerful album with significant progression from Coat of Arms's previous work. It's a generally wonderfully-written album. A great addition to this year's metal releases from the region.

Score: 7.5/10



You can find Coat of Arms on Bandcamp here and on Facebook here

NADER SADEK TO PLAY FIRST SHOW IN EGYPT



Egyptian artist Nader Sadek will be playing his first show on home territory on April 19 at the El Sawy Culturewheel in Cairo to promote newly released EP The Malefice: Chapter III. But hold up, didn't Sadek confirm a complete lineup change recently? He did, and he's already found replacements. He's already announced some of the new members. Two words: holy shit.

Glenn Benton tracking vocals with Jason Suecof and Nader Sadek
Hannes Grossman, known for his involvement with Necrophagist and Obscura will be behind drums, and Mayhem's Atilla Csihar will be handling vocals. Also on vocals is Seth Van De Loo, who some will recognize as Deicide's live vocalist a few years ago on a tour where vocalist Glenn Benton couldn't make it. New Obscura member Tom Geldschlaeger will be playing guitar alongside Orestis Nalmpantis. Dimitri Khouri plays bass. Also making a rare apperance on vocals is Nader Sadek himself.

Egyptian deathcore band Mephostophilis will be opening up. All proceeds from ticket sales go to the orphans of Naga Hamadi. Click here to RSVP.

We'll be catching up with Nader Sadek very soon, so watch this space.



[REVIEW] SVENGALI - THEORY OF MIND

Album: Theory of Mind
Band: Svengali
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Label: None (Independent)
Reviewer: Habib Tabaja



When I first heard their 2014 EP Unscathed, I knew that Dubai-based band Svengali have a lot of potential and that they’ll put out even more fantastic stuff in the near future. They actually did. Svengali was formed in 2013 in Dubai, and has come a long way since. Theory of Mind is audible proof of that progress and achievement. The 13-track debut album, mixed and produced by Haven Studio’s Hadi Sarieddine (guitarist of Benevolent), has had its artwork and album cover beautifully done by Ishtar Al Shaybani of Ishtar Couture.

 In general, the album contains plenty of elements that remind me of Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Slipknot, Behemoth, and some electronic influences. To me, they brought out the best of those elements and added to them their own twist, emotion, and style.

Theory of Mind begins with “Lucid”, an acoustic instrumental with a hint of suspense that sets the tone for the rest of the album. I feel that Khalid Al Temimi’s drumming is heavy and powerful throughout the album, particularly in “Deny”, “Floodgates”, “Laced in Sin”, and the interestingly-titled “Inertia (Part 1)” (a hint at a possible second part?). In terms of guitar work, my favorite riff was in “Sink or Swim”, which is absolutely eargasmic and out of this world, along with an unforgettable chorus. “Pray for Sanity” has a killer opening and the most brutal vocal work by Adnan Mryhij, and heartfelt, beautiful singing by Fadi Al Shami. So much emotion was poured into this album in general and the aforementioned song in particular. The catchiest tune of Theory of Mind in my opinion is “Blindfolds”, complete with brilliant lyrics and headbang-inducing riffage. “Thirteen Suns” is also a treat for heavy music lovers. The Bassist Ali Square and rhythm guitarist JM also do one heck of a job on the entire album. “Resonate” is a wonderful closing track, complemented by a motivating atmosphere and riveting chorus “We are the fearless ones!”

With that being said, I do think some things could have been done better on the album. A ballad or acoustic song could have been included to add in on the variety of sound that we saw back in the Unscathed EP. Some songs do seem somewhat similar to each other for the first-time listener, but the album differentiates itself as one listens to it more. The heavy and hard-hitting tunes might need to be balanced out by the band's softer side that we have seen before, or perhaps with more diversity in the heavy tunes themselves. 

Regardless, I could say that the more you listen to Theory of Mind, the more you’ll like it. What I also enjoyed in Theory of Mind are the lyrics and their uplifting, positive theme. The contrast of that with the music and the clean and heavy singing all precipitate in a debut album beyond expectations. It is a huge step up from the Unscathed EP. Truly, Svengali have really outdone themselves this time, and have set a standard not only for themselves but for the entire scene in the region. 

Score: 8/10


  
  You can listen to the full album here.
  You can buy it online from their Bandcamp page.
  Check out their Facebook and Twitter pages.


 

[REVIEW] RESURRECTION METAL NIGHT


The Asian and Middle Eastern metal scene melted into a brutal and unforgettable night of musical mayhem in Dubai’s Music Room on Friday, March 13th. Resurrection Metal Night, organized by Studio 77 of Bahrain, featured 5 bands from the region: Maticrust (UAE/Philippines), Smouldering in Forgotten (Bahrain), Devoid (India), Creative Waste (Saudi Arabia), and Stigamata (Sri Lanka).

The venue was already packed when UAE-based Filipino grindcore band Maticrust began playing their set of brutal and fast-paced songs, which included both covers and original songs. The covers they played with their own style included “Deceive” by British band Extreme Noise Terror. Their original songs also were also appropriate for the heaviness of the night’s bands. “Identify and Attack”, “Forced Patriotism”, and “Die in Vain” preceded their final song, “Their Lies”. Maticrust set the stage for the epicness of the following bands. A fitting overture for an unforgettable night.

Maticrust - Photo Credit: Chris Barnett

Up next were Bahraini Blackened Death Metallers Smouldering in Forgotten, who are forerunners in the Arab Extreme metal scene. Darkness and despair descended on the Music Room as the band began their opus of doom and destruction along with the crowd’s moshing. They began their set with their renowned song “Dread Messiah” off their 2010 album, I, Devourer, as well as the title track. They continued their set with a particularly powerful group of songs such as “Siren of Truth” and a cover of Venom’s “Black Metal”. They had brought so much dark yet positive energy to the Music Room by the time they played their last song “Reborn as One”. A captivating, immersive set indeed from one of the region’s most extreme and underground bands.


Smouldering in Forogtten - Photo Credit: Christ Barnett

After that, India’s Death/Thrash band Devoid proved to be no less brutal than the other bands. Their electrifying performance was essential for Resurrection Metal Night. Playing tracks from both their debut album A God’s Lie and their recent EP The Invasion such as “Brahma Weapon”, “Possessed”, “Battle Cry”, and “Grand Design”. They also played a new song called “God Complex”, from their upcoming album. The stage lights that set in during their turn on the stage perfectly complemented the mood of their music. A moshpit was more than necessary. They concluded their set with a cover of a Slayer classic, “Disciple”. A powerful and energizing performance by a promising band from a country that is producing plenty of talent in the metal genre.


Devoid - Photo Credit: Munem Qureshi (Team MQ Photography)

Hailing from the region’s most underground scene, Saudi Arabian grinders Creative Waste were ready to lay waste to the Music Room with their crushing tunes. Emphasizing the grindcore concept of the microsong, the band were able to play 13 songs in their set while keeping up the energy of the crowd that was already drained by the previous bands’ performances and accompanying moshing. They played a mix of songs from their demo, their debut album, and their upcoming release such as “Opposing Reality”, “Slaves to Conformity”, and “Divide and Conquer”. The new songs they included in their set are “Enemy”, “Retribution”, and “The Illusion is Real”. In addition to being one of the few grindcore bands in the region, Creative Waste proved to be excellent representatives of the Saudi metal scene abroad.


Creative Waste - Photo Credit: Chris Barnett 

 Resurrection Metal Night was concluded by an epic performance from Sri Lanka’s metal veterans, Stigmata. Celebrating their 15th anniversary with their first performance in Dubai, they put out a brilliant, mesmerizing set full of guitar solos, sexy bass lines, and varied vocal techniques and ranges. Appealing to a varied audience of music lovers, Stigmata brought the best out of their musical influences in their set, beginning with their song “Jazz Theory”. They also played songs such as “Our Decay” and “Lucid”, and instrumentals like “Andura”. They also performed Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Blitzkrieg” and Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” in their own unique style, and ended their set with the epic “March of the Saints”. At one point, their vocalist Suresh de Silva said that he was told by someone in the washrooms between songs that their band is not metal at all, so the band decided to prove him wrong with their performance, because it was surely metal as fuck!  “Metal is all about expressing yourself!” said Suresh, and his band did just that. A magnificent set from an underappreciated scene.


Stigmata - Photo Credit: Chris Barnett 

Overall, Resurrection Metal Night was a treat for the lovers of metal (and its various subgenres) in Dubai and elsewhere in the region. The bands were friendly with their fans and provided an extremely positive atmosphere. It was one night full of musical chaos and ingenuity. Here’s to hoping Dubai sees more shows like this that showcase diverse talents from across the region! 

SPOTLIGHT ON WACKEN OPEN AIR METAL BATTLE (LEBANON)

After Ascendent came away with a win at the UAE's Wacken Open Air Metal Battle, Lebanon's three bands are performing tonight, where one will join Ascendent in Egypt. We had a chance to talk to the three bands; Blaakyum, Lebanon's oldest active metal band, has also won the Global Battle of the Bands years ago and performed in the world finals in London. April have been regular performers in Lebanon but have only recently put out their debut EP Archives Of The Mind. Turbulence have been performing Dream Theater covers for a while, but have now opted to focus on their original material. Metality talks to Blaakyum frontman Bassem Deibess, April frontwoman Rach, and Turbulence guitarist Alain Irahim.


Blaakyum

Hey Bassem! You released Lord of the Night back in 2012. When can we listen to some new material? And can you give us any hints on the release date of your new album or any other details?
Our material are ready and we are so eager to go to the studio, but it has been almost a year that we are struggling to finance our studio entry, and till now it hasn't happened. The economical situation has taken its toll on the band, with two members now married and engaged and having to fend for their families... We hope within the next two month to be able to enter the studio and start recording... We really hope so because we are so eager to do it.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Yes we do, we try not to be late to the show...Not really we just watch the other bands cheer for them and have a good time till our time comes and we go on stage.

What does your set look like for the Wacken Battle of the Bands?
Mostly we will showcase our attempt to be original through our oriental tunes, in these tunes we are focusing on being as original as possible, in a time where every note and every innovation has been played and made before, our oriental tunes are a bit different than the rest of our music which is sometimes more conservative, so we will perform a bit of everything.

You guys have been around since 1995 and are the oldest active metal band in Lebanon. How do you think the scene has evolved and changed since you guys started- and where do you see it going?
This is a long question to answer, the scene has been evolving alright, but it has been passing through ups and downs, lately it was in a steep down phase, and today with 2 major events in one week-end, and other promising organisers on the rise, it seems the new dawn of Lebanese Metal is starting to shine. Needless to say, today things are much easier than in the past, maybe that is the passion that drove us in the past, in the 90s internet and social media was practically none existent, the community was more organic, the arrival of the social media today was a double edged sword, it made communication easier, but it killed the sense of community, and the metal scene finally seems to be going back to organic live meetings and gatherings rather than the virtual ones, which I think will do really good for the scene... time will tell... but one thing is still constant, we do have still great bands and new great bands form everyday, this scene might have been sleeping, but it is far from dead... and the next few days will be the proof.

What are some of your favorite bands from Lebanon and the Middle East?
I do not know about the rest of my band mates, but I miss some bands like Kaoteon, and mostly Damage Rite (previously known as Postmortem) I was a huge fan. InnerGuilt are back and that is so exciting to me as I am a big fan of their music. Also I am anticipating Nocturna's album. As for the Middle Eastern Bands, I like Blind from Cyprus, and Mezarkebul (Pentagram) from Turkey, and recently I have been digging the music of Voice Of The Soul, as well as the new uprising Dubai based band Ascendant, these guys have something original going on. And we should not forget the Lebanese-Dubai Based Prog-Thrashers Anuryzm.... We really have a lovely scene... I would have mentioned The Hourglass, but that would not be my place, as I am a member, but I miss the guys, the war in Syria has shattered us, but I hope we do a comeback soon.


Turbulence

Tell us about how Turbulence started and came together. Last time we checked, you guys were playing Dream Theater covers! 
It all started with a track called "Solar Chain" that Mood sent me, shortly after we had started talking on Facebook. In a nutshell, today that track is on our upcoming debut album "Disequilibrium" and is called Richardson's Nightmare (after a few major changes to it). We discovered our mutual love for Dream Theater and thought we'd share it with DT fans in Lebanon who might never get the chance to see them live. So we made it our purpose and sole goal for 2 years to try to bring the DT show to Lebanon! And throughout our DT nights, we were "testing out" some of the guests that performed with us, and we can say that we have reached the perfect recipe: Owmar El Hage - Lead Vocals. Alain Ibrahim - Lead Guitars & Back Vocals Mood Yassin - Keyboards & Piano Charles Bou Samra - Bass Guitars Sayed Gereige - Drums


Could you tell us any new details on your upcoming release (Disequilibrium)?
Sadly because of financial obstacles, the album took us almost 2 years to complete. We are now at the mixing stage, followed by mastering and printing. And then the release concert we've been very eager to throw. It's going to be sometime around June 2015 if everything goes as planned and, we have a huge surprise lined up for that concert, we'll talk about it when the time comes!
 

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Yes we kinda sit together, go through the songs in our heads and out loud, while we express our enthusiasm towards the upcoming show!
 

What’s your take on the current Lebanese rock/metal scene, and where do you see it going in the future?
I think with the recent concerts taking place, and especially the metal battle, things are looking really promising. The battle has brought back together some of the biggest names in the metal and rock scene like Marc Bassila, Bahij el khatib etc.. And its amazing because they are united now to give a chance to the winning band and its beautiful. We can actually feel the spirit that used to exist years back, so we're pretty excited about that, because it has been on the top of our achievements list.


What are some of your favorite bands from Lebanon and the Middle East?
Some of our favorite bands are Amadeus Awad's projects and Michel Labaki from Lebanon, and we are actually fans of April, pretty talented people over there. As for the rest, we love Laço Tayfa and Orphaned land.
 


April

Tell us about how April started and came together.
April started off as an acoustic duo back in October 2010 covering Celtic rock tunes, to gradually morph into a progressive psychedelic metal band by 2012. With the sole change of members on Bass since, from Charbel Hajj to Remy Hachem, the band in its current line-up (Richard Samia on Guitars, Raffi Nordiguian on Keys, Naseem Raad on Drums and Rach Bassili on Vocals) has been composing and producing originals and gigging across the country in both April-exclusive gigs and festivals/public annual events. We have traveling plans together too.
 


You recently released your EP Archives of the Mind. Tell us about the EP and how you guys are going to promote it.
'Archives of the Mind' is our first attempt at originals' composition and home-self-production. We were experimenting in different sounds and eventually found ourselves integrated in a psychologically-oriented concept in sounds and themes - the EP was born. We already have physical copies of the CD in different sales points and will soon be available online, in parallel with an "Archives of the Mind" mini-tour in Lebanon and hopefully the region.

What can the fans expect at the Wacken Battle in Beirut?
Just be there people, come - listen - watch. With support, not only expectations of an amazing performance are met, all standards will go beyond that. Together, we can recreate history.
 

What’s your take on the current Lebanese rock/metal scene, and where do you see it going?
It is almost like a mine-field, you know. Quite unpredictable. Anything can happen. It is a widespread known phenomena when it comes to how unstable our metal scene can get; or any scene anywhere for that matter! There are efforts, seen and unseen, for its persistence and revival and that is what we appreciate, support and advocate in each step we make. Though we were always detached from that fluctuating situation, safe to say, we are blessed with amazing supporters (musicians and non-musicians) who have not failed us in their continuous support, we have had a remarkable attendance turnout in each event, considering that we are not sponsored at all, and the majority of the attendees are not exactly fellow metal musicians. Something big is happening to the Lebanese rock/metal scene. Wait for it.
 

What are some of your favorite bands from Lebanon and the Middle East?
Naming isn't our favorite part haha! We're a bit old-school when it comes to that, it is always good to pay respect to those bands the likes of PostMortem, The Kordz, Oath To Vanquish, Communion, Nightchains, Void, Red, Negative (-)...to name a few. Tanjaret Daghet, Turbulence, Shadowalls, Episode, eye, WKBL, Mario Agostine, Michel Labaki, Alan Azar...and many many more of currently active bands/artists.



 

MELECHESH - ENKI [REVIEW]


 
Album: Enki
Band: Melechesh
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: February 27, 2015
Reviewer: Alex Ghali

Five years after the release of the monumental The Epigenesis, Black Metal titans Melechesh have returned with a new offering, Enki. Named after the Babylonian deity of wisdom and the arts, a fitting title for so intricate and massive an album.
The sound on Enki can be described as having molten gold being poured into your ear while visions from beyond…Like their previous works, Enki is both ferocious and intricate; no words can do this album any justice when describing it, but this track-by-track will at least offer a good idea of what to expect.

Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged
A funny name for the opener that sounds like it hastily jam-packed with keywords describing every emotion that describes in this song. All doubts of this album being a worthy successor to The Epigenesis are immediately swept away in a maelstrom of screeching guitars and thundering drums.

The Pendulum Speaks
The title of this song is intriguing, if not mesmerizing, and can only be described as pure gold furiously being forged into a tall and mighty monument for the old gods and their wisdom.

Lost Tribes
The album’s flagship single, featuring the legendary Max Cavalera, and probably the album’s thrashiest track; Cavalera’s vocals offer a deeper companion to Ashmedi’s serpentine shrieks. Lost Tribes’ second theme commences halfway through and unleashes hell with its punishing triple meter beats and locust swarm-guitar riffs.

Multiple Truths
Multiple Truths assaults your ears with heavy grooves spiced with Phrygian goodness. Ashmedi’s vocals here are uncharacteristically sinister even by Melechesh’s standards, being sung in short and rigid spurts.

Enki – Divine Nature Awoken
This number evokes the first instrumental track on The Epigenesis, When Halos of Candles Collide, but this notion is swept away by the entrance of mercilessly heavy tremolo riffs and drums. Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ fame makes his appearance on this track, and his bone-chilling howls add to the cavernous atmosphere.

Metatron and Man
The best way to describe Metatron and Man is as a twisted symphony of blades and plagues, with legions of Assyrian warriors charging enemy lines on demon-drawn chariots.

The Palm, the Eye, and Lapis Lazuli
Infectiously groovy, this is one of the most fun songs Melechesh have written, and is something to look forward to when they start touring. If you aren’t bouncing your head to the beat, then something is wrong with you.

Doorways to Irakala
Mesmerizing. Nothing else need be said.

The Outsiders
Like the title track of their previous album, The Outsiders serves as the monolithic conclusion to the album. Astronomic themes and crushing vocals descend upon the listener to crush them beneath the relentless storm of sound, and with its brief but haunting outro The Outsiders beautifully concludes Enki.

A Final Word on the Album
Enki represents a culmination of Melechesh’s previous efforts: the raw, thrashy power of Sphynx and Emissaries, the mammoth and intricate passages of The Epigenesis. Although the album feels that it was written in the shadow of The Epigenesis, it can also be said that Melechesh has found its voice anew and is unafraid of recreating itself: with Enki, they have found a launch pad from which to keep leading as innovators in the Black Metal scene.

Rating: 9.5/10

Favorite tracks: Doorways to Irkala, The Palm, the Eye, and Lapis Lazuli, The Outsiders, Multiple Truths.

OCEANS ATE ALASKA - LOST ISLES [REVIEW]



Band: Oceans Ate Alaska

Album: Lost Isles

Genre: Progressive Metalcore

Country: Birmingham, England

Release: February 24, 2015

Label: Fearless Records

Reviewer: Ziad Gadou

Metalcore is considered a relatively young sub-genre in the metal age, mostly popular amongst the newer wave of metal fans. With the emergence of bands like Bring Me the Horizon, Asking Alexandria and Sylosis, metalcore has proven its immense rise in popularity in the United Kingdom.  Oceans Ate Alska was formed in Brimingham in 2011. This ferocious five-piece released a debut EP titled “Into the Deep” in 2012 with favorable reviews. This year saw the release of their debut album, “Lost Isles”. 

Fourthirtytwo” lays a pretty good foundation for the album, easily transitioning the listener to the more violent “Blood Brothers”. James Harrison explodes with gruesome guttural vocals transcending the cleverly layered melodies of James Kennedy and Adam Zytkiewicz. No particular “genre” governs the sound of this band at this point. You can definitely notice groove metal and melodic death metal influences in there as well. “Linger” is one of the best tracks on the album. The delusion of safety and security in the intro riff, slowly drags you to a ditch of massive melodic creativity and tight poly-rhythmic drumming. One cannot expect the coming segment of any given song. Another very interesting feature of this album is the quality of “filler” tracks. “Equinox” is one of the most addictive soothing pieces of music I have exposed my ears to.

Once again, England steps in to offer its most recent and impressive act, Oceans Ate Alaska. This fantastic debut displays both the “core” and the beautiful in a well-articulated metal statement. Much like Rob Stark’s death in the infamous Red Wedding, you won’t see it coming. 
8/10
Stay connected with Oceans Ate Alaska

INTERVIEW WITH KAIHON [UAE]

Reuben Bhattacharya / Visual Amnesia
Kareem C: You guys are a fresh band out of the UAE. Tell us about how you guys came together?
      
Jude:  I’ve known Bam since high school. Once I came back to the UAE, after getting done with college back in India, we started jamming together and after coming up with some riffs we decided to start a band. That’s how the project started off. We were originally called Ciojn, but because so many people used to go “lolwut ?” we decided to use the literal pronunciation of the word itself, which is Kaihon.

Lalit: I came to Dubai for work a year back. I was completely clueless about this place and I didn’t know anyone in the music scene personally. It took me a couple of months to get adjusted with the place and sort everything out. I visited a few gigs to check the live music scene here, and I must say I quite loved it. In order to keep my voice in check, I started doing vocal covers on YouTube and posted the first one on a few facebook music groups & forums. Jude & Bam then contacted me and talked about the project. I heard some of the music the guys had been working on and agreed to join them.

Describe Kaihon’s sound; what are your influences?

Jude: That’s really hard to describe.  I hate putting a label on things, because I think they alienate the listener and set up walls where there shouldn’t be any. But if I was really pressed for it, I’d say we’re a death metal band that likes to keep things on the groovier side.

Influences, well that’s another really hard question to answer since between the three of us, there are probably 15-20 bands that influence how we write music, and that number increases every few days.

But I would say I’m primarily influenced by Strapping Young Lad, Cynic, Lamb of God and
Crowbar. But recently, I do find myself listening to a lot of Kvelertak and Opeth’s latest album  is really interesting.

You guys recently put out your debut track, "Pathological". Was that the first song you wrote? Let’s hear more about it.
       
Jude: "Pathological" is actually the second song we wrote and decided to release that as a single because it is one of the more straightforward tracks on the EP.  Like I said we try to keep a particular theme in mind for each song written, and try to have both the music and the lyrics reflect that. It could be anything: an ideal, a word or a state of mind. For instance, for "Pathological", the theme in mind was acceptance, the story of a person trying to not shy away from who he really is as opposed to who he’s trying to be. We try not to get too preachy but it creeps in anyway.

Pathological is part of a debut EP that you guys have been working on. Tell us about the writing and recording process, when we can expect it, and other details.

Jude: I handle most of the writing and the recording process is usually me recording everything at home and keeping the other guys updated on what I’m working on. We then meet to refine and tweak the material until we come up with a final product that we’re all happy with. 

The EP consists of 5 songs and should be sent in for the final mixing and mastering stages by April, with a tentative release date of late May- early June.

The three of you have played in bands in different scenes, but two of you have been involved outside of the UAE as well. Tell us about how your respective experiences have helped the band. How would you differ the Dubai (UAE) scene from the others?

 Jude: Well, I was lucky enough to play with some very talented musicians in my previous band, but as far as the intrinsic side of being in a band goes, I’ve learnt that musical prowess isn’t the only thing that’s key to making a band click. 

While ego and respect for ones work is important to any artist, being in a band is about compromise, and finding people who share your vision and drive makes it easier for you to write music that is genuine.

The Dubai scene has exploded in the past few years that I’ve been away. I’m really happy to see so many people supporting the local scene and showing up for gigs, and it only seems to be getting more expansive.
I come from Goa, which is known more for its clubbing scene, so there wasn’t much scope for live music there, let alone a metal band.  If there were any gigs, which came around about every 5-6 months or so, you’d be stuck with a crowd of about 10-15 people, 30 if you were lucky. And half of them would be waiting for you to get offstage so that the resident DJ could start his set.

So I can tell you guys here in the UAE that you are very lucky to be having such stellar gigs so frequently. There has been a lot of unsettlement on the scene due to some very unfortunate circumstances that are allegedly the result of some underhanded cloak and dagger bullshit. But I am sure, without a doubt, that the metal scene will only grow stronger from it.

Lalit: I have been playing for various bands in India for more than 9 years now.  I’ve interacted & played with various musicians, artists, and people. Every single individual brings a different experience and learning. It can affect you positively, negatively or go both ways as well.
Reuben Bhattacharya / Visual Amnesia
With Kaihon, all of us share the same frequency and the same zeal to make it work – musically as well as personally. We respect each other and the efforts put in by the other person. Also, after spending years in the Indian music scene, the people that I have worked with and the friends that I have made, were of great help to us.  I have known Keshav Dhar (from Skyharbor) for years. I informed him about my new project in Dubai and asked him if he would be interested in producing us, which he gladly agreed to. When I went back to India for a mini-vacation, I ended up recording my vocals at his studio and then later on the song was mixed and mastered by him. 
As far as the music scene in Dubai is concerned, I am highly impressed. Dubai has a very active music scene. There are gigs happening almost every weekend. The amount of crowd support for the bands that perform here is amazing. It’s like a closely knitted family, and everybody helps out. I really can’t wait to get back on stage.

What are some of your favorite bands from the UAE and the Middle East?

Jude: I would say Voice of the Soul and Alpha.Kenny.Buddy (AKB) are my favorite acts in the local scene. Both of them put on a killer live show and I always find myself having a good time when they’re playing their set.
I was also recently introduced to a local band called Static Theory that has some very talented musicians. Also, a shout out to the dudes in Apeira. They’re cooking up some amazing stuff that I can’t wait to hear.

Lalit: I haven’t seen all the bands here but bands like Voice of the Soul, Benevolent, Svengali, Point of View, Alpha.Kenny.Buddy (AKB) are clearly my favorites. It’s always a treat to see these bands live.

Any final words for Metality readers?

Jude: Thank you for the support ! We can’t wait to get on stage and play for all of you guys and hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.

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INTERVIEW WITH STIGMATA




Ziad: First of all I want to congratulate you on being Sri Lanka’s baddest and meanest sounding band! 

Suresh: Our heartfelt gratitude and magnanimous thanks. We are humbled and much obliged.

Years after you first started, how do you see the growth of the Sri Lankan metal scene? 

There was no infrastructure for Metal, Hard Rock or originality back in the day. There was a lack of media support, zero sponsors and no clubs/pubs willing to take a chance with a Sri Lankan Metal Band. The genre was disrespected, frowned upon and not taken seriously. There was a time when media would offer us exposure if we were willing to dub ourselves an ‘Alternative Rock’ band to avoid any backlash from the public. You can imagine that our response was not compiled with pleasantries. 

15 years on; after 3 albums, One 10 Year Anniversary Limited Edition Double Album, 1 DVD and 7 EPs it’s sufficient to say that things have changed profusely. The Sri Lankan scene now is flourishing and growing every day, every month, every year. There is acceptance and credibility for Metal as a lucrative and respected art form. Our Sonic Alma Mater is revered and respected for its substance, depth and musical dexterity. It’s an accepted lifestyle and community that’s part of Sri Lankan society now. A scene where well over 70 Rock/Metal Bands perform gigs regularly, there is ample support from electronic and print media and the bar has been raised in terms of the high standards indoctrinated by us and others that are professional and serious about their music. We organize bigger and better concerts now; the scene has attracted many international icons to tour the country as well (Nervecell, Cyanide Serenity, As I Lay Dying, Civilization One, Serenity Dies, and Rudra to name a few) there is some form of sponsor affiliation in contrast to their past involvement and the misconceptions and misconstrued ideals regarding Metal has subsided. The Sri Lankan Metal scene is evolving and hopefully it will become a renowned hub for artists to perform in but more importantly a place that shows the world that we Lankans can kick butt in things other than Cricket.

Lyrically and musically, what do you consider to be your primary influences? 

We are essentially inspired by each other. That’s the truth. We all share such an eclectic taste in music be it Metal or other genres that if our music is a canvas, drawing inspiration from five different sources has helped us retain our aesthetic credibility, originality and helped us push the creative envelope to unprecedented terrain. Musically we love everything from Death, Rush, Nevermore, Tool, Pantera and Spiral Architect to Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Animals as Leaders, Revocation, Arch-Enemy, Johnny Cash, Strapping Young Lad, Testament, Iron Maiden to music by Hans Zimmer and even Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. If it’s powerful, evocative, has depth and stems from an honest place, we will listen to it.

Lyrically everything from literature, poetry, theater, film, music and of course the general human condition and psychosis to devour each other in systematic and profound ways, the reality of existence… anything that’s invigorating or intriguing enough to capture our attention puts the age old adage that the pen is far mightier than the sword to good practice. There are plenty of things in the world to be inspired by; all it takes is for us to look but see, to hear but listen. 






Suresh, you write most of the lyrics in poetic formats. What are some of your favorite poets/lyricists and have you considered using any particular favorites for a future project? 

I never set out to embrace any set techniques or devices of literature when writing lyrics. Again the inspiration dictates the direction of the lyrical approach. One thing is that right from the inception we knew we wanted to drive the proverbial nails hard into peoples’ consciousness and sublime with our music, the multi-layered themes and connotations in our sonic spell craft… but we always wanted to have lyrics that would stand on par with the music. That was very important to us to be a well-rounded musical enigma.

I love Neil Pert’s lyrics; Rush are too amazing to discuss or decipher!!! Warrel Dane (Nevermore) is possibly my all-time favorite lyricist and poet of all time if truth be told. I am greatly inspired by Steve Harris’s lyrics in Iron Maiden and even James Maynard Keenan’s lyrical work with Tool. I like Anathema’s lyrics too and even Chuck Shuldiner’s stuff with Control Denied and Death. Tim Rice wrote amazing lyrics for Jesus Christ Superstar.

But of course one cannot cite lyrical inspiration without bringing into consideration the work of Edgar Allan Poe, William Blake, Shakespeare, W.B Yeats, Oscar Wilde, H.P Lovecraft, Jean Arasanayagam, Bob Dylan etc., J.R.R Tolkien, Geroge R.R Martin, Stephen King, Mo Hayder, Mario Puzo, Neil Gaiman; they all inspire me in no small measure.

I had the distinction of playing Judas in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Rock operatic masterpiece ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ a short while back, that opened up a lot of creative doors because it was a long run, performing to a full house at the Lionel Wendt theater in Sri Lanka – it was incredible working with such a talented cast and crew but paying tribute to some of the greatest singers that have ever graced this earth; Carl Anderson, Ian Gillan, Ted Neily, Steve Balsamo, Drew Saritch… now that was something.

I also recently collaborated on a single with a local classical singer named Sanjiv Niles who is a powerhouse opera singer. We worked on the lyrics and music together and the instrumentation and orchestrations were handled by Ravin David Ratnam. The piece was released a month or two ago to great global appeal. It’s called ‘Cadence of Your Tears (Freedom’s Chains)’ and it’s unlike anything I have ever worked on before. That aside I have no immediate plans to work with anyone else. Although if I could one day compose a song with Warrel Dane – I would die a tad more happier than I would otherwise. At the moment it’s about conceiving and shaping the lyrics to our new music; the 4th album will be out this year to celebrate our 15 year anniversary. That’s my main focus and priority musically and lyrically.  

“Psalms of Conscious Martyrdom” was internationally praised for its aggression and progressive elegance. What ignited the spark for its writing process? 

Honestly I doubt there is one singular thing that can be traced for igniting the spark. After our second record ‘Silent Chaos Serpentine’ we felt at that point of time than we wanted to explore a very intricate and intense sound; experimenting with new ideas stylistically and what we were composing was tripped out, it had progressive elements but we never lost focus of our song writing. It’s an aggressive record with enough moments of grandeur to render a rampant response of WTFs but with an epic texture woven throughout the album. We’ve always wanted to create powerful, evocative and memorable songs. Music that translates well live but also captures the essence of that respective sound on record. I think our mind set was such around that time that we felt a sense of proclivity to reach inside and showcase a body of work with captivating material, but to also depict the band’s musical growth and prowess as well. We didn’t evaluate or assess methods and means of achieving this – we just set out to write and record an album that would show the world that ‘Pure Sri Lankan Metal’ really means business. To a great extent – we accomplished that.

You combine a spectrum of genres in your sound, how does this hybridization process come about? 

That’s a very good question and one that we have often debated on. Sometimes the answer we seek is right before our eyes. There’s something to be said about subtlety and obeying the divine rule that the devil’s in the details. It’s the geographical placement. In Asia we are exposed to a lot more varieties of music; whether the styles are mainstream or underground respectively. It doesn’t matter as long as the music stems from an honest place and is authentic. We are inspired by Western and Eastern music, we appreciate jazz, funk, fusion, dig classical music, blues and of course we incorporate baila and Sri Lankan musical elements to our sound which lends it the unique DNA it possesses. Genre classifications and scene specifications cease to be significant. We are positioned and blessed to be able to draw inspiration from a myriad genres and styles. From our inception we fused a variety of styles into the ‘Metal’ blueprint of ours and somehow through the years (15 to be precise) we’ve grown comfortable and rather experienced in honing a sound that pushes creative peripheries while never losing track of the roots of our sound: Extreme Metal textured and multifariously layered to challenge the listener. What we do is an acquired taste, it isn’t for everyone. But once you connect and relate to what we do, you will endorse our artistry for life. 





You have performed hundreds of shows in Sri Lanka and internationally. What stage do you hope to perform one day and any particular bands you’d like to share the stage with? 

We are grateful for the opportunities we have had; we have had the distinction and privilege of performing at some remarkable festivals and concerts overseas and locally through the years from the Melbourne Arts Festival at the Forum Theater to the SAARC Band Fest in India to us representing Sri Lanka at the South Asian Rock Fest last year in Bangladesh, performing for over 30,000 people at the Army Stadium in Dhaka. Naturally there are so many more places we would love to tour, countries to see, and cultures to experience. The really big festivals: Wacken, Bloodstock, Download etc., all of those would be great. It would be great to be taken out as a support act by some of our heroes. But to be able to organize our own shows and perform very intimate gigs for our Saints in smaller venues is also integral to us. In Stigmata we share a policy that whether we play for 30,000, 3000 or 30 people that we will always deliver the same show of a fucking lifetime.  

Speaking of live performances, any particularly favorite live bands you like to watch on tour? 

Dream Theater, Morbid Angel, Strapping Young Lad, Arsis, Metallica, Megadeth, Lamb of God, Opeth, Arch-Enemy, Flesh God Apocalypse, Black Sabbath, Slipknot… bloody hell RUSH!!!! There are too many. Man, we would have done anything to see Pantera live. Or Queen. Kansas even. Fates Warning with John Arch back in the day! Or Deep Purple or Rainbow in their prime. Judas Priest!!! I’ll stop now. This is one question to which the answer has no limits. We’ve seen quite a few bands and let me tell you so far no one comes close to the mighty Iron Maiden live. Those guys are three times the age of most Metal Bands today and the sheer tightness, cohesiveness and adventure they bleed out on stage is just phenomenal.   

Any last words for the readers of Metality?

Don’t be fooled, it’s you guys who keep the flame of Metal ignited and burning in the warrens of time and space. Thank you for supporting Metality and Metal around the world. If you dig what we do and find yourselves Stigmatized welcome to our humble family. If not – wait till our 4th record is out, you may change your minds \m/ Thank You for the interview, guys. See you at the storm of the century!

Thank you guys, looking forward to a monstrous show in Dubai!

INTERVIEW WITH MONISH SHRINGI (VOICE OF THE SOUL)


UAE progressive death metallers Voice of the Soul haven't played a show in Dubai since last June, but they'll be kicking off the new year at Metal East Fest on March 6th by JoScene and Metal East Records, headlined by death metal legends Vader. Editor-in-Chief and Voice of the Soul's founder and frontman Kareem C interviewed guitarist Monish Shringi, his own band mate...

Kareem C: Hi Monish…umm…long time no speak.

Monish: Hi Kareem. Yeah, a few minutes counts as ‘pretty long’ in my dictionary. I hope things are well with you.

You must be stoked to play with Vader at Metal East Fest on March 6th. How’ve you been gearing up for both Voice of the Soul’s and Verdict’s sets?

Absolutely! The last month or so has been crazy. It’s also the first time that I’m playing with two different bands at the very same show. Moreover, just knowing that Vader is sharing the same stage as you gives me goosebumps.
With VOTS we’ve never actually been in the same country so we just focus on preparing individually and collectively practicing a day or two prior to the show. Verdict on the other hand has been more conventional as all the members live in Dubai so we jam once or twice every week.

Even though I know, tell us about Voice of the Soul’s setlist. Is the crowd going to hear new songs off Catacombs?

This is the first time we’ll be playing in Dubai since we launched Catacombs in the Middle East, and I’m super stoked to play the new songs where we set ourselves a concrete ground. More importantly, this set list will constitute heavily from the new album. The tracks are more challenging and technical so its going to be as equally rewarding to pull that off on stage.

It’s been a while since Voice of the Soul played in Dubai, but they did play in Lebanon last October. How was Beirut?

Beirut was absolutely fantastic! The crowd was mental and the people there await these kind of shows. I remember the crowd jumping around and stage diving while we played without giving a single shit. With all the political unrest and confusion, metal heads wait for moments like these to come out mosh it out. Definitely playing there soon again!



Voice of the Soul have played shows in Kuwait, Dubai, and Beirut. What country or city is next on your wish list?

Alongside playing shows in the Middle East, I definitely hope we can venture out to India and Europe and check out  the scene there. Playing in a country you’re actually from is definitely a great feeling and I certainly would want to experience that!
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With me and Rudy in Beirut, and you and live bassist Bam in Dubai- how do you guys prepare for shows?

Well, I think being in the band for so long and being away from each other has definitely been one of our characteristics. We always start off preparing individually and then jam collectively in our respective countries. Few days before the show, we gather and go through 1 or 2 practices. It’s easier that way because everyone is individually and part-collective ready. So at the end all it takes is one or two rehearsals.

Do you have a favorite song (or more) that you like to perform?

Every song in the new album is fun to play. It’s like every song has something special to look forward to. But if I had to make a choice, Perdition and Pendulum would be my go to at this point.

What are your pre-show rituals?

We haven’t followed any pre-show rituals as such but we individually just venture out, socialise and create a positive energy amongst ourselves. Few minutes before hitting the stage, we’re always together, talking and just boosting each others confidence.

Any final words for Metality’s readers?

Thank you for having me do this interview and I look forward to the 6th of March. It’s going to be one hell of a night not only playing with Verdict and Voice of the Soul but also sharing the stage with close friends and inspiring musicians. We're also really excited about releasing Catacombs in Europe through Hell's Hammer Distribution on March 27th! See you on the 6th!

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INTERVIEW WITH HADI SARIEDDINE (BENEVOLENT)


Benevolent is a band metal fans in the UAE haven't heard of...if they live under a rock. Starting out in Kuwait, the band relocated to Dubai a few years ago and have since then put out The Convenant, their debut album which has received some intense accolades. Kareem C caught up with Benevolent singer and guitarist, Hadi Sarieddine, who has been busy gearing up for Dubai's Metal East Fest by JoScene and Metal East Records, headlined by Vader.

Kareem C: How’s it going, Hadi? Things have been hectic, almost a year after releasing The Covenant. What’s been up?

Hadi: Hey Kareem, how it’s going man? Things are going absolutely great. I can’t believe it’s been a year since ’The Covenant’ has been out, it’s been absolutely incredible.

Stoked to open up for Vader at Metal East Fest?

Vader is a legendary band and it’s an honour to be sharing the stage with them. In our perspective every show that we play carries a lot of importance because it’s about the fans just as much as it is about us the musicians. This happens to be a very special one because we get to share the stage with a bunch of our friends from the scene in Dubai in addition to an iconic band.

What’s Benevolent’s set going to look like?

We’re going to be playing material from ’The Covenant’ on March 6th. The new material has a different flavour for us and is definitely more challenging to pull off live, so it’s a lot more fun!

Monuments drummer Mike Malyan is joining you guys for this show. Well, holy shit. Tell us about how you guys met and worked all this out.

This is the epitome of epic. Mike is one of my personal favourite drummers and the whole thing came about in a really cool way. When we were booked to play EUROBLAST X last October, our session drummer at the time (Rahul Hariharan) couldn’t make it due to other bookings so we reached out to Mike and he hopped on board to play the show with us. Unfortunately we could not make it to EUROBLAST due to visa issues but we kept in touch and it has funnelled down to this show on March 6th. There’s absolutely nothing better than playing music that means a whole lot to you with people who make you want to play the fuck out of your instrument and leave it all out there on stage. This is going to be fun!

Your studio, Haven Studio, isn’t getting any downtime either. Tell us about some of the projects you’re working on at the moment.

It’s been amazing, man. I launched Haven Studio just over a year ago and I’ve been truly blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many amazing bands and musicians. I am currently nesting it out with AKB, Svengali, Rod Paris, and a couple of other projects. I get to put on a whole different cap with each of these bands and it’s fucking fun digging deep into the stories and backgrounds of all the musicians that I get to meet and work with.

Do you have a favorite Benevolent song that you like to perform live? Why?

There’s something special for me in every track, I’d say that I have favourite moments within tracks so it always changes amongst songs. I think that my personal favourites to play right this moment are ‘Heathen’ and ’The Collector’.

Are you guys going to bring in a bassist anytime soon? What’s kept you guys from bringing one in all this time?

We’re definitely looking for a full-time bassist. I think what’s kept us from this is the fact that we just didn’t meet the right person to get in on the fold just yet. We want a member bassist, not a sessionist. So if you’re a bassist and you dig our material and you’re not in 15 other bands, hit us up!

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This is something we can both relate to, having both started our musical journeys in Kuwait. But I could never have imagined myself playing alongside bands like Vader, after starting out in Kuwait where you can only play in your bedrooms and cover Bon Jovi songs at a cafe from time to time.

Yea, man. It’s actually a bit crazy because when you’re living somewhere and you’re LIVING there in spirit and body you don’t really see where you’ll be a few chapters down the road. It’s also one thing to have that tunnel vision and visualise things happening and a completely different thing when they happen. It’s very humbling. Kuwait was good to us, we learnt a lot and just the fact that we made our very first album there is something special to hold on to. I feel like if we were to play a show in Kuwait it’ll be like a full-circle homecoming of sorts!
I think that one of the most important ingredients and elements of being a successful musician is the ability to imagine, visualise, and believe. Those things can really get you places because they activate your inner genius and get you to do what you need to do to achieve those goals and dreams. And when they do actually happen and you’re in that moment it’s a little overwhelming and hard to rationalise. It’s a very humbling and inspiring road. I fucking love every bit of it.

Tell us about Benevolent’s pre-show rituals.

My personal ritual is that I like to walk around the venue as much as I can before the doors open just to soak up the energy and vibe of the place. I don’t like to mingle much the closer the time is to getting on stage just so I can get in the zone. The bands’ ritual is that we huddle up and say a few words about what the show on that particular night means to us. And then we proceed to yelling ‘BENEVOLENT’ on three as a unit. That’s actually one of my favourite things to do as part of the Benevolent journey.

Any final words for Metality’s readers?

I always say this, Benevolent has feelings for Metality. I’m talking legit emotions. You guys have been there from day one and continue to support us, so thank you so much and let’s have ourselves some fun on Friday in Dubai. Huge thanks to all the Benevolent fans for following our journey and being a part of it all. We love you all.

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