Category: NEWS (page 1 of 43)

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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ANGRY FARMERS A New Lebanese Band

“We are Angry Farmers and we play Rock n’ Roll.”
That’s pretty much it!

A Lebanese band was formed last October joining Tex the VocaGuitarist, dr H. (hagop) on bass and later on, after their original drummer’s departure from the country, Joe A. on the drums.

Since their early jams, Angry Farmers didn’t have an interest in playing cover songs, they went straight to the point making music “out of the heart and years of experience”.

When we spoke to Hagop and Tex, they stated that “influencing people, making them play music and express themselves in any way possible are our main, yet most important, goals”.

ANGRY FARMERS a New Lebanese Band

Angry Farmers’ music is inspired by life experiences, love, hate, pain and music genres going from Punk to Grunge Stoner to “real” Doom.

The band has an album ready in their pockets. On April 20th, Witches Brew was released with a music video, followed by Witch Doctor on the 27th.
The album Pest Control is scheduled to be released on May 4th, but Tonight during Metal Night that will take place at The Palace Hamra, the band is going to pre-release it and sell you copies for only 5000 L.L.

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

Machine Head Members Quit!

It is always unfortunate to hear that our favorite bands are breaking up, but most of us really have no clue what these bands actually go through! A Good friend of mine once said “Having a band is like getting into marriage!”, it requires a lot of effort, chemistry, and compromise between different attitudes so that any band can work through their differences.

Today, Machine Head’s Prominent member Rob Flynn( Rhythm Guitar) posted a live video announcing that the band lead guitarist Phil Demmel quit the band and he was followed by Dave McClain (Drums). However, Jared MacEachern is still not sure of his future in the band. Rob assures that their tour is still going to go on and it will be a farewell tour celebrating more than 15 years of their music and the era of the band. He also mentions that they have grown apart as people and musically, he takes responsibility of what has happened. “I have held on too tight to the reins of this band and I have suffocated those guys,” the Machine Head frontman admitted, continuing, “I’ve got some rough edges; I’m kind of a barnacle. Those rough edges have given us the success we have but they’ve also hurt the people around me.”

In the video, Flynn laments the loss of his two longtime bandmates, but offers praise of their abilities and their character.

Watch On Facebook

Machine Head Farewell Tour:

10/04 Sacramento, CA – Ace Of Spades
10/06 Missoula, MT – The Wilma
10/08 Calgary, AB – Palace Theatre
10/09 Edmonton, AB – Union Hall
10/10 Saskatoon, SK – Louis
10/12 Winnipeg, MB – The Garrick
10/13 Minot, ND – The Original
10/15 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue (rescheduled show)
10/17 Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre (rescheduled show)
10/18 Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s (rescheduled show)
10/19 Kansas City, MO – Truman
10/20 Joliet, IL – The Forge
10/22 Cleveland, OH – Agora (rescheduled show)
10/23 Grand Rapids, MI – Intersection
10/24 Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre (rescheduled show)
10/26 Ft. Wayne, IN – Clyde Theatre
10/27 Columbus, OH – Newport
10/29 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE (rescheduled show)
10/30 Hartford, CT – The Webster
10/31 Huntington, NY – Paramount
11/02 Sayreville, NJ – Starland
11/03 Richmond, VA – National
11/04 Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
11/07 Asheville, NC – Orange Peel
11/09 Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom
11/10 Nashville, KY – Exit In
11/11 Charlotte, NC – Underground
11/13 Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Revolution
11/14 Tampa, FL – The Ritz
11/16 New Orleans, LA – House Of Blues
11/17 Austin, TX – Emos
11/18 Lubbock, TX – Jake’s
11/20 Tucson, AZ – Club X
11/21 San Diego, CA – House Of Blues
11/23 Anaheim, CA – House Of Blues
11/24 Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst

https://www.machinehead1.com/blogs/news/freaks-zeroes-tickets-available-everywhere


Lilas Mayassi

 

RIP BIG JACK The Electric Warrior

It is with a sad heart that we write this article. One of Lebanon’s earliest Rock and Metal voices passed away. Jack Khatchadourian, mainly known by his stage name BIG JACK, just closed his final chapter on Earth on July 25.

About Big Jack

Big Jack

For those who don’t know, Big Jack fronted one of the earliest Rock/Metal bands in Lebanon back in the late 70’s called “Electric Warriors“. The band went above and beyond by creating the first generation of Rock and Metal scene in Lebanon. Jack was known for his strong vocal abilities and stage charisma and as a great guitar technician. He inspired a whole generation of vocalists who followed his path between the 80s and 90s and still they resonate until today. A true Legend.

Other than being an inspirational Lebanese musician, Big Jack was also known for his humanitarian activities. From a young boy scout, having his guitar on his back spreading joy and doing all kinds of charity work, to a young man using his own Renault 12 station wagon car as an ambulance during the civil war. Jack was a real life super hero.

Big Jack

Eddy: Lead guitar | Ramsey: Drums & percussion | Souhail: Bass guitar | Big Jack: guitar & lead vocal

Electric Warriors

After the band’s inception in the late 70’s, Electric Warriors became a household name in the Lebanese scene. They sold out theaters and became one of the first bands, if not the very first band, to use special effects on stage in Lebanon. Of those legendary concerts were the multi-day shows at La Cite, Jounieh in 1983. The shows were spread into 4 days, from 27 to 30 of December that year.

Check out below some photos from the golden age of Rock and Metal in Lebanon. The photos below are from Electric Warriors from several eras of the band’s life and their shows in 1983 at La Cite Jounieh.

Electric Warriors Gallery

After Electric Warriors

After Electric Warriors went into hiatus in the early 90s, Jack then went into a solo career and worked on a lot of side projects. The most notable was the 2004 song “Rise for the Genocide” by A.R.G.F. that featured many local musicians as a local All-Star song in the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. (Video Below)

In the year 2010, Electric Warriors did a reunion in an attempt to revive the band. They had a show later on in 2011 at FreeWay Center in Sin El Fil with Christian Metal band TAKWEEN.

Big Jack - Electric Warriors

After that, Big Jack went on to form a new band, MARANATHA, a Christian Heavy Metal band, with the youth of his church. In September 2016, he shared his excitement with us that Maranatha will be releasing a full-length. “Soon we have a surprise for everyone. New album release of MARANATHA. Christian metal group followed by a concert”- Says Jack to Metal Bell in 2016.

This news was great for us since Jack was out of the spotlight for many years at the time.

Unfortunately, only few months later, in December that year, Khatchadourian was hospitalized but soon recovered and went back to his home only days later. After that incident, the news of a New Album from the Legendary vocalist were gone.

Big Jack is the father of Chris Khatchadourian, the vocalist of the theatrical Rock band In Sanity Q. The band also shares Electric Warriors’ drummer extraordinaire Ramsey Khattar.

The Metal Bell family would like to send its condolences to Jack’s family and friends.

BIG JACK ROCK IN PEACE \\m//

  • We would like to thank Ramsey Khattar for the information he shared with us about Big Jack, in order for us to complete this article.

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EDITOR’S PICKS:

Metalocalypse Creator Jon Schnepp Is On Life Support

Metalocalypse creator Jon Schnepp is on life support following a “catastrophic stroke.” His partner, Holly, confirmed the situation in a post on Instagram. “While everyone is desperate for updates on his condition, we ask for your understanding on giving us the privacy we need over the next few days as we deal with the difficult concerning Jon’s care,” she wrote. “Please keep him in your prayers, and in your heart.” Continue reading

Vinnie Paul, Pantera Drummer Dead At 54

Legendary drummer Vinnie Paul, co-founder of heavy metal band Pantera, has died. He was currently a member of supergroup Hellyeah before passing away at age 54. Continue reading

Ralph Santolla Dead At The Age Of 49

Ralph Santolla was taken off live support on Wednesday June 6, 2018.

Ralph Santolla was known for performing with many bands such as: Obituary, Iced Earth, Death, Deicide, Millenium, Memorain, Sebastian Bach, Redscream, Toxik, Eyewitness, Hollow, Stare, Melechesh. Continue reading

Prominence Introduces New Member

New comers, Prominence, released their first song, four months ago and it features none other than Derek Roddy (ex-Nile, ex-Hate Eternal, Serpents Rise) behind the kit.

Prominence is a new Death Metal band from Lebanon formed less than a year ago. It was gathered by Rock INsight Organization‘s founder and ex-Within Destruction drummer Jack Khamo. After several posts and teasers, Prominence released their first single “Slaughter of Dreams”. The song was composed and written by Khamo himself. But on this song, Jack decided to record the guitar and the bass rather than the drums, leaving that mission to the DW drummer Derek Roddy. Joining him as well on the guitars are guitarists Matt Lawand and Albert Obeid.

As the line up of Prominence was shaky, the band performed with Albert Obeid  during Metal United World Wide Event but as a session guitarist. The band have put up a great show with Albert giving it all on the axe.

A few days ago only, the band announced their newest member, Maurice Semaan, with a post that reads:

“Ladies and gentlemen! We introduce you our new axe-man! Mr. Maurice Semaan! Welcome to the family brother! Another big news coming your way next week, stay tuned and stay metal \m/”

Prominence updated line up is: Maurice Semaan (Guitar), Matt Lawand (Guitar), Sergio Ashjian (Bass), Jack Khamo (Drums), and Nareg Cherchian (Vocals).


“Slaughter of Dreams” featured the legend Derek Roddy ( ex-Nile, ex-Hate Eternal, Serpents Rise) on drums. The song was recorded by all band members (Jack Khamo, Matt ML, Sergio Ashjian, Nareg Cherchian) and our friend Albert Obeid. The song was recorded with Anwar Habib and Triptych Studio.

Prominence was announced to perform in this year’s edition of Beirut Metal Fest on September 7th at Porsche Factory Beirut. The festival will be headlined by Death Metallers Decapitated.


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EDITOR’S PICKS:

 

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