Odious is one of the well-known Egyptian Black/Death Metal bands and is also one of the leading and early Black Metal bands in Egypt. The music of Odious is based on combining the basic folk riffs and oriental instruments with pure extreme Black Metal music. Through this article, I will attempt to give you a complete image of the full journey of Odious.

The Line Up

The band was formed in Alexandria in 1998 as a Doom Metal band with oriental Black Metal touches, then it moved to play Black Metal with an oriental atmosphere.

The early line-up of Odious was¬†Bassem Fakhry¬†(Vocals / Synths),¬†Rami Magdi (Drums),¬†Ramzy Mayas¬†(Bass), and¬†Mohamed Hassan¬†(Guitars). Shortly, Odious faced the first line-up change with¬†Ramzy Mayas’s¬†departure, and¬†Alfi Hayati¬†joined¬†as the¬†new Bassist. In 2005,¬†Mohammed Lamen joined Odious as the band’s Rhythm Guitarist to finalize Odious lines, but left in 2007 and was replaced by¬†Ezz El Din¬†Taher¬†¬†as the new Rhythm¬†Guitarist.

In 2007 and 2008, the band ended up being¬†one-man project and Odious’ presence was formed by¬†Bassem¬†Fakhry untill 2012, when drummer¬†George Boulos¬†joined and Odious was¬†brought to life again.

In 2015, Odious announced that Amr Medhat from Awaken Within and Alfi Hayati from Hate Field  had joined the band as live members.

In 2016, Odious faced another line-up change after the departure of Alfi Hayati as a live member and the return of Ramzy Mayas, who is currently the Bassist of Hate Field band and a live Bassist for Odious.

¬†Odious’ Discography

Odious’ discography is represented in their¬†First Demo, which was recorded in 2000 but was unreleased. The music is quite different from what Odious performs now, ¬†combining Oriental Doom Metal with Black Metal touches. In 2003, Odious changed their¬†genre to create a new musical mixture which is Black Metal with Folk/Oriental touches. Odious’ new musical genre was introduced in its 2003 EP¬†Summoned By Night. As a result of its EP success, Odious has signed with the Greek label Sleaszy Rider Records, to release their masterpiece¬†Mirror of Vibrations¬†in 2007. After a long time of absence, Odious has conquered not only the local scene but also the international scene with Skin Age¬†in 2015.

Summoned by Night I (Old Demo)

Genre: Doom Metal

Year: 2000

It was the first unreleased stuff of Odious and its music was Oriental Doom Metal with Black Metal touches. It contained 6 tracks: Silver Sea, Upon The Broken Wing, Collected Echoes, Lost in Dark Times, Deepest Part of Whatever, and Dilemma

Summoned by Night (Demo)

Genre: Folk/Oriental Black Metal

Year: 2003

Rating: 4/5

Summoned by Night was released in 2003 and contains 5 tracks. Its importance lied within 2 factors:

1- It has introduced the style of Odious’ music after changing the band’s genre from Doom Metal to Black Metal.

2- It was the card that introduced Odious to their first label Sleaszy Records.

Mirror of Vibrations (Full-Length Album)

Genre: Folk Oriental Black Metal

Year: 2007

Rating: 4/5

This album is like a blast in the Egyptian Metal Scene. It spread more than Odious’ early stuff. It contains the same tracks of¬†Summoned by¬†Night¬†2003 demo, in addition to new tracks, 9 tracks in total:¬†Silver Sea, Poems Hidden on Black Walls, Deaf and Blind Witness, For The Unknown Is Horrid, Invitation to The Chaotic Revelation, Smile in Vacuum Warnings, Split Punishment, Upon The Broken Wing, and Dilemma.

Silver Sea is a highly emotional track that gathers the attractive tunes of the guitar with the beautiful mournful sounds of Oud to create a wonderful intro for the release. It has nice atmospheric touches as sounds of the sea and sounds of sea birds, that remind us of Alexandria where Odious belongs. Poems Hidden on Black Walls is opened with a classical Egyptian folk song then it is followed by some beats of the Drums and whispering. The music of the track is mainly based on the conversation between Guitars and Oud and between the Drums and the Tabla. It has many movements between pure extreme Black Metal riffs and Oriental riffs. The solo of the track is evil and dark. It has many musical interludes to give a space for every instrument. Deaf and Blind Witness is opened with attractive sounds of Keys, then it is followed by the rest of the instruments. At 1:22, a familiar Oriental riff conquers the music. The same part is repeated at 4:05 after a catchy dynamic solo. Starting from 4:50, a strong part of extreme music has started. 

For The Unknown Is Horrid¬†is one of the well-known tracks for Odious. It wasn’t only started with catchy tunes but also carried a strange oriental taste represented in (Zagharet) and the great usage of the Tabla. The track carries a musical interlude which is highly oriental. It gives a wide space for the Oud, the Tabla, and The Nai from 5:54 till the end of the track.¬†Invitation to Chaotic Revelation¬†is the heaviest and fastest track on the album. Its intro brings the tunes of¬†Nargaroth¬†to my mind. It is also the darkest track of the album.¬†Smile in Vacuum Warnings¬†intro is shocking. As for me, my soul was frozen for seconds while listening to it. Great harmony with the guitars with painful tunes of Oud. I think it is one of the most emotional tracks on the album. It carries many movements as a comparison between the East and the West, the North and the South, all degrees of comparison in one unit.

Split Punishment¬†is an active track, full of energy and in the middle, it carries the riffs of the known “Dabka”. Upon The Broken Wing¬†is a unique oriental track with a wonderful taste of Oud.¬†Dilemma¬†is the outro of the album, tunes of keys declare the end of the journey through many dark worlds, sea¬†of thoughts, darkened conflicted ideas, and constructive feelings.

In general, the music of Odious from 2003 till 2007 was characterized by the domination of the Oriental folk riffs with a wide space for the Oriental instruments. The music is based on mixing pure Black Metal with familiar classic oriental colors. The vocals are mainly the traditional brutal Black Metal vocals. Oud and Guitars form a dynamic catchy atmosphere. Tabla and Drums reflect the strength of the East and West. The Keys plays a vital role through the music as it is the instrument which has the freedom to access through all kinds and moods of music. Another note is the length of the tracks. Odious depended on long tracks to give them ample time to mix Black Metal music with Oriental parts. Odious represents in some tracks pure extreme music parts and pure oriental riffs parts within the same track.

Skin Age (Full-Length)

Genre: Folk/Symphonic Black/Death Metal

Year: 2015

Rating: 4.8/5

Skin Age is the latest station in Odious discography till now. Skin Age forms the great comeback of Odious after long years of absence. Odious writes a bright chapter in its career with Skin Age. The band recorded the album in Greece with the great icons Septicflesh and the FILMharmonic Orchestra of Prague and it is released via another label which is The Leaders. The album contains 8 tracks: Crown of Centuries, Crystal Clear, A Picture of Dead Art, Al Zar, All The Evidence, New Mystery, Dungeon Keys, and Hot Blood Fumes.

Crown of Centuries is a great symphonic track. Its intro is similar to the intros of legendary symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven. The harshness of the music is perfectly mixed with the epicness of the symphonic colors. The flow of riffs reflects the idea of black sides of thrones, kings, and authority. The part from 1:01 to 2:26 is similar to the shape and sounds of conspiracies. At 2:27, it is an interlude with atmospheric effects as the classical ancient Egyptian music. As I have mentioned in my review with Mahmoud Ezzat (one of the well-known Egyptian Metal pages admins, one of the admins of ArabMetalhead.com, Rock Era Magazine member, and one of Metal Blast organizers team) of Skin Age which was published on 31/12/2015 on Rock Era Magazine Website:

When you listen to the intro {and the whole track} you will strongly believe that it is a symphony not a regular music track. Different levels of strength with a sound of march procession for offering immolation Odious perfectly managed to {combine} the tunes of the guitars with the {epic} of the orchestral and Black Metal vocals with the voices of choirs 

Crystal Clear is like a story of war with all its different phases. It is the first track that contained an oriental part at 2:21. Crystal clear is a dynamic active track that opens with sounds of the symphony and ends with the beauty of the oriental music. A Picture of Dead Art is one of my favorite tracks from Skin Age. Actually, it is one of the most special tracks of the album with its epic intro. The riffs are very strong and dark. At 1:16, we meet a wonderful classic part formed in an instrumental interlude with Oud, Nai, and Duff. I can say, this part is the familiar of Odious but the shocking is how Odious employs this mood to create a riff and musical movement full of energy as they say It is the time of headbanging guys, wake up we are ODIOUS.

Al Zar is¬†one of the Egyptian Metalheads’ favorite tracks on the album. It is opened with riffs as the classic Arabic riffs from the nation of the deserts. At 00:39, the music greatly portrays the chaos of this scene.¬†Al Zar¬†is the first part of the album that has the beats of the Tabla and is also the first track that contains a clean part at 2:45. This oriental classic part is followed by a typical symphonic part as a break before another oriental part which employs not only the Tabla but also the ringing sounds of Cymbals as the bells of chaotic war. The title of the track itself tells 2 different things: it is a reflection of a real scene of¬†Al Zar, which is a known Egyptian scene in the Countryside, or it is a reflection of the war.¬†All The Evidence¬†has an attractive symphonic intro with strong vocals. At 2:52, we meet a great harmony between the symphonic riffs, Oud, Tabla, and Keys.

New Mystery¬†is one of the strongest tracks of the album; I like the flow of the instruments and the accurate moving between the riffs. The symphonic epic atmosphere is perfectly transferred to the performance of the vocals, the echo of the soprano presence, and the employment of the clean vocals.¬†Dungeon Keys is the first released track from the album. The track is opened with wonderful symphonic tunes. The track carries some special parts as at 1:27, we have a familiar oriental riff mixed with vocals with a background of Oud. At 2:37, we have something as an Oud monologue, then it is broken by the vocals. This part is followed by weeping tunes of Nai to create a darkened emotional mood. Finally, the track ends with a high symphonic atmosphere. We can also say that¬†Dungeon Keys¬†is the closest track to Odious’ old stuff. The last station is¬†Hot Blood Fumes,¬†it is one of the heaviest tracks of the album. The track is familiar to¬†Crown of Centuries, not musically, but both tracks carry the less amount of Oriental mood. Actually,¬†Hot Blood Fumes’ outro carries an instrumental interlude from Oud and Tabla as an outro for the whole album. Skin Age¬†is a new level and new step in Odious’ career. In this release, we see that Odious’ music becomes more complicated, it wanders between the different degrees of Death/Black Metal music. Odious also chose to paint and decorate their music with the richness of Symphonic/Orchestral music and the charming smell of the oriental instruments. There is a nice diversity of the used vocals in addition to the Soprano presence. Actually,¬†Skin Age¬†attracts more listeners to Odious than their old stuff. Another note should be mentioned is the great quality of the music and the perfection of the process of Mixing and Mastering. We can say that¬†Skin Age¬†is one of the¬†best released albums in The Egyptian Metal Scene. Moreover, this album opens the door for a new musical mood which gives more richness to this music in the local scene. After Odious’ early experiments, many Egyptian bands tried to take the same path by adding different oriental touches to their music. I think that after Skin Age, many Egyptian bands will try to produce music with the same mood.

The Classical Legacy of The Orient and Neoclassicism in Odious Music

After talking about Odious’ discography, it is the right time to discuss the title of the article. Actually, what I mean with “The Classical Legacy of The Orient” is the following: Odious chooses familiar oriental riffs from the Egyptian culture, for example, the intro of Poems Hidden on Black Walls, Upon The Broken Wing, Deaf and Blind Witness.

The band perfectly introduces a revival of these classical pieces through its music. Globalization endangers national culture and identity, that’s why we need to rediscover them and make some sort of revival to our legacy. The music of Odious focuses on the Egyptian culture such as folk music of the countryside and the Egyptian desert. The classical taste in the chosen oriental riffs adds to Odious’ music richness. That’s what I mean with the Classical Legacy. The second point is Neoclassicism. Neoclassicism as a direction is reintroducing old and folk classical pieces in a new or modern way. Black Metal or Death Metal is still a modern or postmodern form or wave of music, this is the modern frame of music which Odious uses, and this is the first part of the name Neo. The classicism in Odious music, as it is introduced in¬†Skin Age, is the employment of the western heritage and the oriental one in the same modern frame. Folk songs and Oriental instruments as Tabla, Nai, Duff, Cymbals, and Oud are our heritage and legacy. Symphonies and Orchestra are the heritage and the legacy of the West. So, Odious improves its unique music with not just mixing the typical oriental sounds with pure extreme music, but it also manages to combine and connect 2 different main cultures in one connected unit¬†and with great harmony. A¬†final note about Odious’ latest album is the length. Odious’ early stuff depends on the long tracks to have the needed space to introduce the wandering between the Harsh Music and the oriental melodies.¬†Mirror of Vibrations’ length is more than 50 minutes, on the other hand,¬†Skin Age’s length is only 34 minutes.

Odious conquered Cairo in Metal Blast Festival 2016 – Five Heavy Years

On 23/4/2016, Egypt met one of its strongest concerts ever. The line-up of the concert was: The Egyptian Progressive Metal band Medic, The Russian Gothic/Doom band Inner Missing, The Egyptian Oriental Black/Death Metal band Odious, The Greek Symphonic band Dimlight and The Finnish Doom Metal icons Swallow The Sun. The line-up represented the main Scenes in Egypt: Medic from the capital Cairo and Odious from the second capital Alexandria. Actually, I was one of the few lucky people who had the chance to attend Odious’ sound check. Having a media pass for this concert was one of the best things in my life. The idea of seeing those icons on stage and just a few centimeters away was a dream come true. Actually, the whole media team (Rock Era Magazine Media Coverage Team: NJ Bakr, Rana Atef, and Doaa M. Hamza) agreed that Odious made an unforgettable great night. I am going to talk about 2 sides regarding Odious show in Metal Blast 2016: Sound check. Odious’ sound check was perfect, everything went great. It was full of energy. Even Odious members themselves were very cooperative and nice. The number of people who went to Metal Blast just to see Odious performing Skin Age for the first time on stage was equal to or maybe exceeded the number of people who went to see Swallow The Sun on stage. We can say that the Symphonic epic tunes were dominant in this night.

The show itself was epic but Odious suffered a lot from technical problems. I need to mention something, mostly in the concerts in Egypt, the audience waits for the mistakes more than the positive sides, but, the audience was helpful and supportive towards Odious. Everyone in the venue supported Odious to continue their show, also the band could deal with the problems that happened on the stage.

They performed mostly of their latest album tracks as Crown of Centuries, Crystal Clear, A Picture of Dead Art, and Al Zar. No one can deny the effort and the challenge Odious made, standing on the stage for the first time after many years of absence, sharing the stage with an international band as Swallow The Sun, and performing Skin Age for the first time on stage. Also, Odious live members presented a wonderful show full of energy and strength.

Hot Live Fumes

Last year, Odious announced that they will hold a concert for the Alexandrian metalheads. Of course, Odious will give the chance for those who missed its performance of “Skin Age” in Cairo to witness Skin Age live. Odious also gave the chance for a rising band, “Infernum Expectant”.

Now, you know the story of Odious and every Egyptian Metalhead has a story with Odious and its releases. So, what’s your story with Odious?

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