10/07/2009 11:03 PM | By Georgina Enzer, Copy Editor
Four of the Middle East's hottest metal and hard rock bands are hitting the stage at the Metal Asylum Festival — one night of all-out music madness at Rockwell Cafe in the Capitol Hotel.
Headlining the gig is Nervecell, who need no introduction, having just been signed to the German record label Lifeforce Records. Also lined up are the local bands Crow and Point of View, who are just kicking off their careers and already have a large UAE following. Jeddah-based Wasted Land, a melodic death metal band with folk influences who played at the Shamal battle of the bands alongside Nervecell, round out the groups.
Nervecell's lead guitarist Rami Mustafa and guitarist Barney Ribeiro tell tabloid! some of their best experiences and journey thus far:
"Nervecell started in the local scene playing tons of university gigs, and back in 2002 we had played with our first line-up in the university Rami and James studied at. They liked the band and we became friends and eventually members of the [same] band.
"So far, we have played in many exotic locations where a lot of bands hardly get to play like Egypt and Australia. Our first-ever European experience was at the 2007 Metalcamp Festival in Slovenia. It was really cool.
"Between 2004 and 2008 we worked on new material, which became [their latest album] Preaching Venom. Also bear in mind that James, Rami and I were in university, studying, so it was a real challenge trying to balance our schedules with the band — writing music and playing shows — while at the same time trying to get good grades."
"Some of the best experiences I've had have been playing at Wacken and With Full Force festivals. We also played at the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festivals, which are known for being the most commercial rock festivals with more than 100,000 turnout. I still cannot believe that a death metal band like ourselves made it there!
"I really enjoyed our performance at Wacken, as people went crazy and enjoyed our set. So many people sang the songs with us, which amazed us. And of course the sound was huge.
"At With Full Force, we shared the stage with big names such as Sepultura, Hatebreed, Dimmu Borgir, Down, Carcass and others, so that was also very huge for us."
Nervecell band members:
- James Khazaal — Bass and vocals
- Barney Ribeiro — Rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar
- Rami Mustafa — Lead guitars, rhythm guitar and acoustic guitar
- Louis Rondo — Drums
Ben Munro and G. van Rooyen met just over a year ago, and after realising they both had a taste for metal, decided to get together for jam sessions. In came Jamie Hendry, a colleague of Van Rooyen's, to do vocals. They then up Slip van Wyk and Michael Al Asmar in a classified ad to form the band Crow.
"We didn't really know what direction we wanted to go, but before we knew it, we were writing songs that WE thought were pretty good", Munro says.
Having all grown up listening to the same bands, it wasn't hard for them to agree on a sound that suited them. Heavy crunching guitars, thumping drums and in-your-face vocals make up a fresh new sound based on the classic metal genre, though can't really be compared to any known bands. They play with passion and fire and have picked up a large following after playing just one gig so far.
Crow gives some insight:
What were the first albums you guys bought?
"Ride the lightning, by Metallica. Go to work. Zak Wylde — he is a god. The Mammal song by Blood Hound Gang.
"As a band, probably Stone the Crow by Down. They are a big influence to us, and we cover this song."
What challenges do you face being a metal band in the UAE?
"It's hard to get good quality equipment here for reasonable prices. We either order our gear from overseas or pick it up on our travels. It would be nice to be able to walk into a decent store here that is run by musicians, that want to sell you the equipment that is best for you and not just trying to make a profit on some sub-standard gear made in China.
"For a heavy metal band specifically, I suppose the challenge is not having a big fan base, or enough places to ply our trade, but it is getting better with the hard work put in by guys like Rodi Hennawi at Metal Asylum."
How would you define success?
"Being successful means being happy with what you've got and what you are doing. It is a dream of ours to be able to play alongside bands we grew up listening to, our heroes. And getting paid to do it would be nice."
Crow band members:
- Jamie Hendry — Vocals
- G. van Rooyen — Lead Guitar
- Slip van Wyk — Rhythm Guitar
- Michael Al Asmar — Bass Guitar
- Ben Munro — Drums
Point of View
The hard rock band Point of View has been together for four years, but will only release their debut album, Politically Correct, in November. The band recently been signed up with Music Master for distribution of the album via Virgin Records. Similar distribution deals are in the process of being put together with entities in the UK, Europe and the Far East.
Point of View has played many gigs at local rock fests and the band was one of the shortlisted bands to open for Robert Plant, Iron Maiden and Nickelback.
Nikhil aka "UZI", lead vocalist, lyricist and composer, answers our questions:
What was the first album you bought?
"Appetite For Destruction by Guns 'n' Roses."
What do you do in your time off?
"Compose music, sleep, meet up with friends or watch movies."
If you could be a famous metal musician, who would you be?
"Eric Adams — singer, writer, composer and founder member of the metal band MANOWAR."
What song would you play on a first date?
"Love is on the way by Saigon Kick."
What is your favourite song?
"Well, there are many, but if I had pick a favourite metal song, then I'd go with Patterns of the Ivy by Opeth."
What challenges do you face being a hard rock band in the UAE?
"I'd say that metal/rock as a genre has a long way to go in this region, mainly because this region has not yet matured to that kind of music. So the challenge obviously is to make music that is heavy and likeable to us, but also music that could go down well with the local populace eventually."
How would you define success?
"Being able to live a life of your choice without any financial constraints."
Point of View band members:
- Nikhil aka "UZI" — Lead vocals, lyricist and composer
- Murtaza aka "KV" — Lead/rhythm guitars
- Yohan Dsouza — Bass guitars and back-up vocals
- Kiran Tauro — Drums, percussions and back-up vocals
In 2005, friends Ahmad Khoja and Ayman Al Gamdi were jamming together on their guitars when they decided to form a band. The two melodic death metal fans (who admire Gothenburg bands such as Dark Tranquillity and In Flames) called up friends Emad Mujalled and Sultan Al Gamdi to join the band, which gave birth to Wasted Land. Mujalled brought in vocals and drums, while Al Gamdi played the bass. After recording their first song, Death in War, they discovered that local Saudi metalheads loved their music. The band was then asked to play live shows all over the world. Because they were so busy, Mujalled could not do both the vocals and drums, so the band decided to search for a permanent drummer, and finally found Tameem Helmi.
Wasted Land band members:
- Emad Mujallid — Vocals
- Ayman Al Gamdi — Guitar
- Ahmed Khoja — Guitar
- Sultan Al Gamdi — Bass
- Tameem Helmi — Drums
Don't miss it
The Metal Asylum Festival takes place on Friday October 9 at Rockwell Cafe, Capitol Hotel, from 9pm. Tickets cost Dh100, and are available at Virgin Megastores, Club Submarine in the Dhow Palace Hotel and Timeout tickets.