Category: FEATURED (page 1 of 7)

Music Is LOUDER Than Oppression

Freedom Fighters and heroes of arts and culture decided to come together and fight oppression, tyranny and dictatorship. With no labels and in total spontaneity, a group of individuals gathered themselves under one banner after the freedom of expression and art has been violated in Lebanon.

You’ve heard the news; after a 2 week-long media circus, Mashrou’ Leila, the Lebanese indie rock, had their act cancelled from the Byblos International Festival schedule on August 9th, by the festival committee for safety concerns of the staff, bands and attendees. ICYMI, read the full story >here<.

Music Is Louder (صوت الموسيقة أعلى) is the name of the event that will be held and will feature a weird, yet great combination of artists. The line up is versatile and features poets, actors, comedians, musicians, bands and more. The spontaneous talent collective will be protesting the terrorizing acts that led Mashrou’ Leila to cancel their show out of FEAR. In addition, with a scary domino effect, Dutch Metal band Within Temptation felt unsafe to come and cancelled their show, and voiced their support to Mashrou’ Leila. (Read about it >here<)

When we asked the organizers about how the initiative came to be, they replied: “The organizers are individuals that decided to come together and fight oppression. This fight for freedom of speech has been going on for years, but this is the first time it gets this much attention since Mashrou’ Leila is a big name in Lebanon. We got together and decided that it’s time to take a stand and came up with the idea of an alternative concert that is free of hate-speech, censorship, and homophobia.”

The line up is a work of art in it self, it is too interesting to miss, and “consists of artists, singers, bands, stand-up comedians, dancers, and more.” (check full line up >here<). And as the event will mostly involve live music, it naturally came into question whether Mashou’ Leila will make an appearance. But, “unfortunately, most band members are not in Lebanon and will not be able to physically be there with us.”

As Metal Bell and many of us Metalheads have been victims of such oppression, most recently with the ban of Sepultura, we are hoping that such movements would become regular and let our voices be heard. The organizers clarified that “The aim is to fight censorship and hate speech and promote freedom of speech. This idea was put together very fast due to the time frame. We would very much like to continue with this activity later, but are still unsure how.”

We hope to see you all on August 9th at the Palace to protest against violence and against oppression of any kind.
Read all the event details >here<

Music Is Louder



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WITHIN TEMPTATION Cancels Lebanon Show In Solidarity with Mashrou’ Leila

After weeks of cultural terrorism against local band Mashrou’ Leila (Read our full report here) the Dutch Symphonic Metal Band Within Temptation cancels their scheduled show in Beirut out of fear for their safety and in solidarity with Mashrou’ Leila. Read Within Temptation’s statement below.

Within Temptation Statement

With a heavy heart we must inform you of the following:

As you know, we were scheduled to play the Byblos Festival in Lebanon on August 7th. We have found out that another band called Mashrou’ Leila was pulled from the festival according to the festival committee due to security reasons after religious fanatics demanded their performance to be cancelled followed by violent threats. Apart from the fact that Lebanese authorities at this moment are not able to provide artists the security to perform in peace, we have decided to cancel our show in Byblos in solidarity with Mashrou’ Leila and in support of tolerance, freedom of speech and expression.

For you, our fans in Lebanon, it hurts to make this decision. Our last show in Lebanon is still very vivid in our minds and hearts. We are looking forward to better days on which we will return to you in Lebanon.


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The Mashrou’ Leila controversy

In the past week, Lebanon’s media was flooded with opinions and stances on Mashrou’ Leila, the Lebanese indie rock band who after continuous pressure, had their awaited concert in Byblos International Festival, Jbeil, cancelled by the festival committee for safety concerns. Opinions varied among the longtime loyal fans and proponents of freedom of speech, the believers, notably Christians, who found the content of their music offensive but simply criticized them, and the new age Crusaders who, once again, took it as their mission to be the defenders of the faith and called for the ban of their concert, and among which were individuals who thought it was justifiable to threaten the band members and event promoters with violence and death.

In a culturally conservative region, Lebanon is considered to be a beacon of modernism and progressivism, where women can dress as they like, partying and drinking are normal parts of life, and other things that might be considered taboo in the rest of the Middle East would be socially acceptable. However, time and time again, religious authorities banning arts prove that reputation of Lebanon being a cradle for personal freedoms wrong. For us metalheads, censorship, or the attempts for it, is not a foreign phenomenon. Since the start and rise of the metal scene, local bands and artists were subjects to irrational interrogations and unjustified investigations. Many local events caught the eyes of the media under false labels like “Satanic rituals”, “Devil worshipping”, “encouraging delinquent behaviour and drug abuse”, to name a few, and caused an uproar among parents and conservatives. Some international bands were also banned from coming for scheduled concerts under claims of them being Devil worshippers or anti-Christians, the most recent one being Sepultura in April. This time, it was a local indie rock band, Mashrou’ Leila, who’s been around for 10 years, fronted by an openly gay man (Hamed Sinno), and who has gained international recognition, that has been under fire.

The uproar started when a resident from Jbeil found an article that Hamed (Vocalist of Mashrou’ Leila) had shared a few years ago, which included a p photo of an old Byzantine icon of the Virgin with baby Jesus that was photoshopped to replace her face with Madonna’s and called Jesus a fan boy. The band also had the lyric of their song “Djin” (which was released in 2015 and played at many concerts in Lebanon and abroad) twisted; the lyric in Arabic reads “رح غطس كبدي بالجن باسم الاب وابن”, which literally translates to “I will immerse my liver in gin in the name of the Father and the Son”; the band uses a lot of symbolism in their lyrics and their songs are very interpretive, but the consensus is that this one is about alcoholism (Djin is meant as Gin), and has a simple play on words with baptism. We’re guessing the confusion happened because of the similarities between the Arabic spelling/pronunciation for “gin” (the drink) and “Jinn” (the spiritual entity). The sexual orientation of the singer also appeared to be very problematic to people, who argued that his sexuality is sinful and against Christian teachings and must not be accepted and criticized the rise of Pride flags in their concerts.

 

Taking the photo and the lyric as a direct intentional attack on holy figures and sacred symbols, the band were quickly accused of being (you guessed it), Satan worshippers, anti-Christian and blasphemers. A riot started on the media and many were calling for banning the concert and penalizing the band, including some authoritative figures like Director of the Catholic Center of Information Father Abdo Abou Kassem and the Archbishop of Byblos, as well as ultra-Christian Facebook groups who threatened with death and violent protests on the observed day of the concert. The ridicule became worse with some religious figures started to come with mind-blowing conspiracy theories, pointing out that the band name (which translates to Night Project) actually is a reference to the demon Lilith (Leila – Lilith – Night – Darkness), and that their aim and that of other common pop artists’ is to deviate people from the path of Jesus and religion and take them down the road of rebellion, delinquency, feminism (what?) and homosexuality (again, what?).

The band issued a statement on their page to express their upset and clarify that their lyrics were taken out of context by being cherry picked instead of being taken as a whole, that the song in question was performed repeatedly in Lebanon and elsewhere without any backlash, that each of the members comes from a different religious background that they all respect, and they are united with their love for music and their use of it to highlight humanitarian issues and represent their country. In spite of that, due to the pressure they were subjected to, they ended up deleting 2 songs and some content from their page and their YouTube channel. The band was investigated with and stood in front of a judge, they were cleared and their concert allowed to take place, provided that they hold a press conference to publicly apologize to the Christian community. The press conference was never held, and the threats and condemnations went on and got more heated.

Mashrou' Leila

The festival committee eventually decided that it is best to cancel the schedueled Mashrou’ Leila show, fearing that the threats might actually turn into actions. While it is understandable to have safety concerns for the bands, staff and attendees, and to not want to cause instability in the area, it is very sad to know that no protection or security was ensured, and that despite the law clearing the band (albeit with less than fair conditions), the culture of threats, bloodshed and violence prevailed over that of art, beauty and freedom of speech. Our government has immensely failed us this time, and this incident is a significant warning to what may come next if we don’t all defend our rights to freedom of speech. The country has had enough of constant divisions, sectarian values over humanitarian ones and of holding belief systems at a higher status than actual people. It is scary that authorities let the threatening bigots speak up and launch their hateful, potentially violent, campaign and participated in silencing, censoring, and ignoring the safety of artists and their fans. Humans Right Watch researcher Aya Majzoub has condemned the cancellation of the concert as “a step back for Lebanon, which has always prided itself on embracing diversity and being a center for music, art and culture” and Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said that it was “the direct result of the government’s failure to take a strong stand against hatred and discrimination and to put in place the necessary measures to ensure the performance could go ahead”. It is unprecedented to have an act cancelled like this in Byblos Festival, but it may not be the last if religious fanatics are not put in place and if religious authorities are not held accountable for fueling hate, anger and intolerance. They are the ones who were actually unlawful, for defaming and damaging Lebanon’s image on international media sites and for threatening with bloodshed, but our government simply turned a blind eye against that; because beliefs and symbols are more important than individuals.

On a positive note, we do salute the few religious authority figures, and all the artists who supported freedom of speech no matter what, who called for peaceful criticism or boycott if one opposes the band’s views, and who suggested people gather for a mass prayer rather than violently protest on the day of Mashrou’ Leila concert. These few people give us a ray of hope in a hopeless broken system.

While the concert got cancelled out of fear of violence and instability, those who installed that fear are still running loose in the street, and it is only a matter of time before they jump at their next prey and forcibly silence it if they have opposing views to their “sacred” ones. Until next time, Crusaders.

A support event for Mashrou’ Leila will be held at the Palace Beirut, to protest the censorship and bigotry. Event Name: “Music Is Louder |صوت الموسيقى أعلى

By Zena Ismail


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Most Innovative Albums In 2018

For the last decade, all I’ve heard was criticism of the modern music scene. Whether it’s metal or rock, people looked at music with pessimism. While many people believe that good music is a thing of the past, and that innovation died with the rise of the 21st century, that is certainly not true. Some of the greatest most innovative music was released in 2018 and we will cover 5 Albums that we consider to be the most innovative Albums in 2018!

The albums are shared in no particular order.

Most Innovative Albums In 2018

Alkaloid – Liquid Anatomy

Christian Muenzner strikes again with a Prog Death Masterpiece, possibly the greatest. This album combines the composition and innovation of progressive music with the brutality/riffage of Technical Death Metal. Imagine YES meets Nile, yet with further depth to the music somehow. Alkaloid‘s Liquid Anatomy is a true masterpiece.

Buy album and merchandise >HERE<

Ostura – The Room

This is not only one of the greatest pieces of music this year, it has such great cinematic elements that it should just be labeled “Art”. While concept albums are perhaps a thing of the past, Ostura have somewhat refined the idea of a concept album and twisted it into a series of mood swings trapped within the different vocalists/characters. And although it may seem that the guitars try to overshadow the rest of the instruments in metal, in this album, the guitars actually served the composition and the rest of the “symphony”.

You can Buy or Stream the full album >HERE<

Polyphia – New Levels New Devils

I don’t even know what the genre is anymore, it is so innovative and refreshing that I found myself checking if I was still listening to Polyphia. The fusion of Jazz, Djent, and Prog Rock all into one style, Polyphia possibly created a new genre of music. It will come as no surprise to me if a new wave is born as a result of such a sound. Mark my words, Polyphia have given birth to a new beast!

You can stream or buy the album >HERE<

Jason Becker – Triumphant Hearts

28 years ago, Jason Becker was diagnosed with ALS and was given 3-5 years to live.

Yet here it is, another masterpiece of a record. Jason composed the entire album using nothing but his eyes, yes he is that good. The album isn’t a rock album by convention, for its composition sets it apart as classical music. Featured on the record are some of the world’s greatest axemen such as Steve Vai, Marty Friedman, Jeff Loomis, Paul Gilbert, and countless more!

You can stream or order your copy >Here<

Revocation – The Outer Ones

Last but not least is Revocation’s latest endeavor into the experimental realm. This is by no means your run of the mill tech death album. It is layers of Jazz and Fusion hidden under distortion and blast beats. The album is sheer proof of Revocation’s progress from a thrash metal band from Boston to a mature band with a unique sound.

Buy album >HERE<

These were our 5 most innovative albums in 2018. The selection wasn’t limited to Metal but also included more rock-based styles. We hope you liked our selection, and if you have any albums that you think should have made the list, kindly suggest them in the comments section below.

2019… give us your best shot.


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Metal-Leaks | New Song Released Unofficially

Year after year and the Rock and Metal scene in Lebanon is progressing and evolving and day after day we are witnessing a new release, a band that is touring abroad, or even participation in major international festivals. Today, we discovered that a new song was released unofficially by one of the most entertaining rock bands in town. And we just leaked it to you, in this article, even before the band officially announce it or set a date for its release.

In Sanity Q has long become a household name in the Lebanese Rock scene, building a reputation for themselves as one of the most entertaining Rock bands in Lebanon. The Qs aren’t only about the music but also about the show, the theatrical rock show, that is mastered by every member.

New Song was Released

The style however, as much as it is defined as Rock, is full of punk and early metal influences. Tonight, Metal Bell Magazine is premiering “F**k Peace”, a new track by the almighty In Sanity Q. The song starts with calm arpeggios and vocals that will make you think this is an Iron Maiden song. But soon enough, the song kicks into a rock punk style.

The recording vintage quality take us back to early years of Metal which adds up to the beauty of the track. Listen below to “F**K Peace”, the new song released today.

Listen to the song HERE


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Hellfest Reveals 2K19 Lineup: Tool, KISS And Manowar To Headline…

 

Dream Theater, Def Leppard, Lamb of God, Stone Temple Pilots, Gojira, Slayer, King Diamond, ZZ Top, and Whitesnake among other notable acts.

Hellfest has earned the reputation of being the biggest metal festival in the past few years, and believe me it is for many good reasons.

The French festival introduces a massive lineup each year, spanning over six stages, each one is dedicated to a specific subgenre.

On Monday 26th of November, Hellfest announced the lineup for its 14th edition, headlining the three days are Manowar, KISS, and Tool with many co-headlining acts such as ZZ Top, Def Leppard, Dream Theater, Slayer (Final show in France), Slash, Mass Hysteria, King Diamond, and many many more.

Hellfest 2K19 will take place as usual in Clisson, France on the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd of June.

Tickets for the festival are sold out, this is the second year that tickets are out way before announcing the lineup, this only shows how blind faith the metal world has for Hellfest, it also shows a great confidence from the founder Ben Barbaud and his team.

Just like any other musical events, it is possible to find tickets but we advise you not to buy anywhere un-trusted, here is a link to the official website for re-selling the tickets, keep an eye on a regular basis

http://hellfest.zepass.com/

I will leave you here with the complete lineup, also with a great short film created for Hellfest.

Just like every year, we will be there to cover and share with you this heavy experience.

Stay Metal \m/

 

ZIX Signs New Record Deal & Releases New Single ft. HANSI KURSCH

There is a great and promising year ahead  for one of the most prominent Heavy Metal acts in Lebanon, ZIX.
On August 30, 2018, Zix announced on Facebook that they have switched from German label “Pure Steel Records” to the international moguls “Universal Music” by signing to their MENA offices. Zix is the second Metal act to sign with Universal MENA following in the footsteps of Ostura (Read about it here). Continue reading

POINT OF VIEW And Their GUNS N ROSES Affair

Hard Rockers POINT OF VIEW are one of the most active and long lasting bands in Dubai. Formed in the year 2005 on the desert dunes of the UAE, POINT OF VIEW’s career was full of milestones. One particular milestone started in 2011 where the 5-piece ensemble built a strong relationship with Legendary Hard Rock icons Guns N’ Roses. Continue reading

Hellfest 2018 (Reviewed)

Three hours from Paris in my car, it’s probably the longest ride as I drive, I can’t wait to be on site, I count every minute while my car player is shuffling a playlist that I create each year based on the bands playing Hellfest.

Continue reading

JAY WUD Tour With SONS OF APOLLO

No one can deny that Jay Wud, the 4-piece band from Dubai, has become a household name in the Rock and Metal community. The Lebanese guitarist and his multinational band have crossed many borders throughout the years.

Jay Wud are no strangers to the international platforms as they performed in the legendary VIPER ROOM in Los Angeles, as well in several festivals in Europe and the region.  Opening for bands like Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, and Skunk Anansie surely made Jay Wud one of the biggest names in the Middle East. And now, Jay Wud Tour with Sons Of Apollo just lifted the bar even higher.

Few Days ago, Jay announced a tour with the super-group SONS OF APOLLO that features Dream Theater’s ex-Drummer Mike Portnoy and ex-Keyboardist Derick Sherinian. Jay Wud will participate in 5 of the 9 shows of the UK & IRELAND 2018 SOS tour.

In addition to the tour, Jay Wud announced in January his participation in the Amplified Festival in the UK on July 8th here.

JAY WUD Tour With SONS OF APOLLO

JAY WUD Tour With SONS OF APOLLO Dates

02.07 Motherwell, Motherwell concert hall
03.07 Belfast, Limelight
04.07 Dublin, Tivoli
07.07 Brighton, The Haunt
08.07 Gloucestershire UK, Amplified Festival (not as part of SOS tour)
08.07 Nottingham, Rescue Room


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