Here we go, it’s that time of the year where all Metal enthusiasts from France and all over the world gathers in the beautiful Clisson, to visit their own version of Disney Land for a full weekend, HELLFEST.
The special bonus this year was a fourth day, the weekend kicked of on Thursday this year with Knotfest embracing the French meal world.
I personally stopped talking about how big Hellfest is each year, Ben and his team got enough creativity to surprise us each year.
Come Hellfest 2020, I can only guarantee you, it’ll be your best Metal experience.
The lineup this year was massive, maybe too massive.
This edition of Hellfest was probably the 1969 Woodstock of our time.
It had everything, legends bidding farewell to their fans, old school rock stars, new emerging bands, Tool after 13 years away from their fans.
So many highlights that would go down in the history,
Only this year there were stories to tell, on a positive notes and a negative one.
The opening day of Hellfest was busy, really busy, Hellfest dedicated a main stage just for French bands which was really awesome.
Imagine, in one day, you have the chance to see, Gojira, King Diamond, Mass Hysteria, Dagoba, SUM41, Godsmack, Demons & Wizards, and Dream Theater… etc.
And finally, to close out the day, the almighty Manowar was set to headline.
Remember our story from last year? Where after the last band on the third day, Hellfest came up with a huge surprise, Lights were out for few minutes, then Joey from MANOWAR was live on stage to announce the return of MANOWAR to Hellfest after 10 years, their last performance was back in 2009. I was there.
People were looking forward to this, but don’t get too attached, this story does not have a happy ending.
In the afternoon of Friday, around 80,000 people were notified that MANOWAR wouldn’t be playing tonight anymore, no further explanations.
Few hours later, the story started to go out, MANOWAR were on site the night before, as per Hellfest, they just decided to leave the site and not to play the show.
Then an official statement from MANOWAR blaming Hellfest for this cancelation, I mean it’s MANOWAR, of course they’re gonna blame Hellfest.
The fans were really disappointed and furious, a band like MANOWAR should care and respect their fans.
No matter the reason that led to an argument between the band and the organizer, your MANOWAR, you were on site and ready to play, you deliver to your fans, the show must go on, you perform, then you go to solve your issues with the promoter.
Let’s not give MANOWAR too much attention here, they let down their fans, Hellfest were proactive and on the spot, replaced them by Sabaton.
Long story short, it was a dramatic day, but nobody cared, Hellfest ruled and people had a blast.
Day tow was no less, it was the day where you go on a trip back in time, the real legends of rock and metal ruled, not MANOWAR!
The biggest act that everyone was waiting for was KISS, another legends bidding farewell to the world.
We also had, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, ZZ Top, Within Temptation and many others.
But for me, the highlight of this year was without a doubt KISS.
These guys, after all this years, they put on a show that bands in there twenties wouldn’t have the stamina to do.
They gave it all, a rock show on the highest level, they had raisers on the stage for each musician, at some point, Paul surfed over the crowd with a zip-line and plaid two songs in the middle of the ground, not to mention the flames, the smoke, the explosions and finally the fireworks.
KISS presents the real meaning of the term ROCK STARS.
Days three is usually sad, because you come to realize that it is almost the end for this year, but was way more emotional as SLAYER were also bidding farewell to the world, Tom said few touching words at the end and had tears in his eyes.
On the bill were also, Lamb Of God, Slash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Anthrax, Trivium, Testament, Death Angel and Philip Anselmo who plaid so many Pantera hits and many other bands.
I will leave with our photo gallery so you can live or re-live some of the best moments of Hellfest 14
Keep an eye on our page and also Hellfest pages, as tickets will go out on sale very soon.
Next year Hellfest celebrates 15 years of greatness, be ready to get blasted as I guess something really extraordinary is in the works…
The second installation of Metal United Worldwide presents new bands on the horizon, and a well-known one, all while expanding the Metal genre. This year, we heard symphonies, Heavy Metal and Punk riffs, and it all ended with some Thrash Metal.
The show started with Sane Sirens, a Heavy Metal band that covered classic Heavy Metal songs and showed us a few originals. The band seemed to put out a great show as the members weren’t stage-shy at all, everyone seemed to exchange smiles whilst playing the songs tightly, and they called for a lot of crowd interaction when they covered Fear of the Dark and The trooper (although the intro had no bass) by Iron Maiden which the attendees seemed to cheer along the melodies and sing the lyrics with the vocalist. Speaking of which, the vocalist did an amazing job with her stage presence in hyping the crowd up for each song they played.
They also had Anis Mouawad sing 2 covers, which were Killing in the Name Of and Warriors of the World, and no doubt he did a great job as well, and even started the show with an anecdote.
Overall, a few mistakes here and there such as a small solo slipup and a bit of timing issues on bass weren’t that noticeable because they pulled off a great show, but unfortunately they had to backpedal on playing their last song because of time restrictions. Also, having an original named after The Riders of Rohan brings in bonus points.
The band stated: “We’ve enjoyed the concert very much from start to end and the organization was on point. The sound and lighting were amazing and the people behind the show were very professional, not to mention that Phenomy blew the place away”.
Sane Sirens are:
Tatiana Metri: Vocals
Anis mouawad: Vocals
Majd Jadam: Guitar
Bassam Rifi: Guitar
Hassan Ibrahim: Drums
Mohamad Fakhreddine: Bass
And their setlist was:
Light awaits (original) The Trooper (Iron Maiden) Killing in the name (Rage against the Machine) Riders of Rohan (original) Warriors of the World (Manowar) Fear of the Dark (Iron Maiden)
Next up, we had Armian on the stage and it was… Flawless. The way this band was able to have such breathtaking, shifting atmospheres all while some heaviness from the guitars and drums that made its way through the symphonies and melodies flawlessly was just perfect. Every single instrument on stage had its own moment (and there were a lot) and it all flowed together in a beautiful manner.
They had symphonies and atmospheres that would leave you breathless, and in just a second they shift it to another, as if a huge boulder just left your chest, all while demanding more and more. They were successful in mixing a few dark and gritty elements with its more lighthearted counterpart. The vocals were amazing, the violin was magnificent and the keyboard player was responsible for all those amazing symphonies we listened to. Also, their drummer Sam (who is in many bands in the Metal scene) gave his all in his last show in Lebanon, and it was fantastic. It is noteworthy to mention that they didn’t do any mistakes during their show, and they left me wanting for more, because they only played 4 songs.
The band stated: “All the people were kind and easygoing and all in all, amazing.” And they also said that they weren’t prepared. Although after putting such an amazing show, they seem fairly prepared and ready.
Armen Mardirian: Guitar and Vocals
Christopher Vartanian: Bass & Backing Vocals
Sevag Katerjian : Keyboards & Piano
Marian Artinian: Violin
Sam Baghdo: Drums
Undefiled Leveling What if, what is That fades away
The event continued with another new band, Angry Farmers, a Punk band. The band just released their debut album, and it was their first performance, which also means it’s the biggest opportunity for first impressions, and they couldn’t nail it.
Ignoring the cigarette in mouth and alcohol bottles on stage, they really couldn’t work together as a band, and that’s why everyone was working on his own pace. Random tempo issues, inaudible guitars and bass, the general idea of being a band was clearly misunderstood. However, they did have a good riff here and there ,some grooves were pleasurable, the buildup was nice but alas the execution missed it. Everything was pretty stale up until the 3rd song, which they had to replay a few times because their frontman rudely pointed out that there were sounds issues, so they had to take a long break to fix the problems, even though a few sources indicate the sound wasn’t the issue, alcohol was.
Anyway, even a small buildup can turn into a crash since they took a while to finalize their EQ after finishing their unlikely encore. That being said, we can’t judge too quickly and claim that there is no room for progress, this is still their first performance, although they should’ve known drinking and performing don’t mix well. That being said, they were still being cheered for and even had a person jump on stage and dive in the crowd again. I hope to see them again and surprise me with how good they should’ve been in the first place. Hope they come back with a blast.
The band stated: “No comments brother, we had a fun night although that technical thing that happened was bad but yeah shit happens, Rock n’ Roll.”
Angry Farmers are:
Dr. H: Bass
Joe A: Drums
Witches’ Brew Feminazis Beer for Breakfast Witch Doctor Magick Soup
Last, but definitely not least, Phenomy closed the event with a stellar performance. Everyone in the Metal scene already knows Phenomy, and the way how they incorporate sweet melodies in Thrash riffs, how the bassist adds a lot of flavor to their songs, and the amazing crowd control by their vocalist.
You can easily see the love for their craft through their expressions, and it’s safe to say that they are on the top of scene today. Through their performance, it’s clear that they have formed their own identity and have made something really unique, and that’s what made them so lovable by the scene. As usual, they put on an amazing show, and I think they are always the best option for a closing band because everyone waits for them to dominate the stage in an impatient manner, as well as they have a powerful start and a really heavy finish. Their breakdowns never ceased to amaze the audience, as they always headbanged every time. Their tribal theme is well noticed with their signature mic stand, the hanging “bodies” and the thrown voodoo dolls at the end of each show. One thing that they always do is hype up the crowd with Sealing Fate, so they added something new to it for a change; the members Loic and Sam went to the crowd and headbanged with them to the music, and that’s a great representation of their crowd interactions.
The band stated: “It was an amazing night for us, the crowd was amazing. We would like to thank Metal Bell and Skull Session for having us united for metal United WorldWide. We would also like to thank our wonderful crew, our fans and everyone that showed up. You guys are the best. Stay tuned for more stuff from Phenomy. See y’all soon.”
Rudy Bejjani: Drums
Loic El Haddad: Guitar
Dany Arfan : Guitar
Peter Aoun: Bass
Chaos Within Day of Reckoning The haunting Under These Ruins The Mute The Deaf The Blind Sacrifice Sealing fate Dance of The Wounded Souls Electrified (Encore)
Now before concluding our review, we would like to thank Skull Session with whom this is our first collaboration. We were honored to have one of the biggest organizers and, undoubtedly, most experienced in the scene to handle the organization duty of one of Metal Bell events, and hopefully more to come.
Also on the list of people and organizations who have always been present in support of the scene, we would like to thank the generosity of Instruments Garage for providing us with the drum-set with no charge at all.
In conclusion, this was another successful event and all the bands and organizers did their best to make Lebanon appear on the Metal compass. New faces are making their way into the metal scene and that means that Metal has truly United us.
After the latest event- Loud N’ Heavy – that took place at the Palace, Metro Al Madina was once again host to a metal event. The scene “scored” a second event within a span of 6 days, which is either a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. This however was no ordinary local event. Including S.O.D, Kimaera, Nocturna and Khavar, the lineup featured non other than the legend Derek Roddy on drum duties with Khavar. This event brought the full package, everything from Heavy Metal to brutal Death Metal!
Starting off the night, and representing good ol’ Heavy Metal, were S.O.D. The band combines elements of the 80s’ Glam Metal scene with the 70s’ Heavy Metal. And while the attendance wasn’t yet at its fullest, old school metal heads made it clear they weren’t going to miss it. Even though S.O.D had previously performed at an event six days earlier, they certainly delivered a pleasant dosage of Classic Metal. The band members clearly knew what they were doing, as they had the crowd interacting with them at all times. Ossy Mash’s crazy guitar action and electrifying solos were certainly a huge part of the show. But, personally, the icing on the cake was Nigol Ozz’s artistic sense of theatricals.
Changing attire between songs certainly helped set up different moods between songs. Towards the end of the show they invited a fan up on stage to sing along to they rendition of Motley Crue’s Looks That Kill, which I thought was a really nice touch. Overall their performance was really engagable.
Looks That Kill (Motley Crue cover)
Up next were Melodic Death metal band Nocturna. At around this time the venue became bursting in people. Nocturna definitely has a unique sound going on, they incorporate melodic elements to a pretty brutal genre thus creating a cool atmosphere.
People went from twisting their necks to Death Metal riffs to swaying around to the beautiful keyboard sections. Other than their awesome originals, which (I) think are amazing, the band did a pretty sick twist on Iron Maiden’s Fear Of The Dark. One minute the crowd was singing along to the classic Maiden melody, next thing you know it they’re moshingto its brutal rendition.
And as the Lebanese Metal scene has come to learn, you can’t finish a Nocturna show without the classic Amon Amarth cover of Twilight Of The Thunder God. The crowd always goes insane during this song, and this time was not different.
Whispers of a sleepless Night
Herald of my Happiness
The Gates of Periah
A Cannibal Rose
Fear of the Dark (Iron Maiden Cover)
Twilight Of The Thunder God (Amon Amarth Cover)
Following Nocturna were newcomers/not so newcomers, Khavar. Even though this was Khavar’s first show, nearly all the members were metal veterans one way or another. Whether its ex Weeping Willow or Element 26 members, or the man himself Derek Roddy, this lineup was not to be messed with. The show was comprised of a mix of Khavar and Weeping Willow originals. And while it may have been a little short, it was nothing short of spectacular.
The band’s chemistry was definitely there, and the performance was tight. It was everything you’d want from a Death Metal band, from the filthy riffage to the tense drumming. Derek Roddy certainly has to be one of the greatest drummers I’ve watched live.
Death Card Dealer
Craving Whore (The Weeping Willow)
Last Mourn (The Weeping Willow)
And ending the night was the almighty Kimaera. This band is one of the oldest in the lebanese metal scene, dating back to almost 20 years ago! To anyone that’s been hiding under a rock for the entire existence of the scene, Kimaera plays a distinct combination of Doom Metal with elements of Oriental Metal.
Jp, the band’s front man, had a special way of engaging the crowd. And despite some major technical difficulties that took place during their set list, Kimaera managed to put on the perfect ending. Playing a wide array of originals that spans overa huge era, whether it’s 2004’s God Wrath or their new upcoming single Vi Divina, the show was incredible!
The professionalism was clearly shown when the drummer, Erce Arslan, played a drum solo while the band was switching gear, thus the transition was so smooth it seemed like a part of the show. The drum solo was so astonishing that even Derek Roddy popped up backstage once in a while to show admiration.
Among the Dead
Harbinger of Doom
The Day Innocence Died / In a Dying Embrace
Lost Control (Anathema)
The Die Is Cast
Overall I thought the organization was pretty good, despite the minor hiccups here and there. I still, however, preferred The Palace for major metal gigs such as this one. The smaller venue, and the fact that the bar is outside certainly don’t help. One thing I certainly preferred in Metro Al Madina over The Palace though was the strict No Smoking rule, which made the show much more enjoyable. But Kudos to the organizers for managing to organize a successful metal event on a Tuesday night!
Where to begin? To describe one of the most amazing and effort putting events, given that there was a few mishaps but the work that everyone did pulled through.
People were really excited to see ZIX perform that night, however we were really sad to know that they had to cancel at the last minute due to some personal matters regarding one of the members, but it’s never over cause they say the end is the beginning. Well this isn’t the end, but if we know ZIX, then we do know that what we’ve seen from them in the past, is only the beginning to what they have in mind for the future. Same goes for Into The Void, we were informed after stage preparation that they painfully had to excuse themselves from performing due to some difficulties. We hope all the problems be solved, and we will be waiting for your next show, hopefully soon.
Now that we got that covered, let us begin by introducing the first band in the lineup and how “Reigen” fired it up with their Heavy Metal smack and their goal at making the scene wanting to come back for more.
Now before we do that, I myself was a little concerned regarding the attendance that day, before the band started, the place was almost empty, until “Reigen” started the show and the place was packed, the band started off with their very own original “Behind The Curtains”. Presence wise, these guys ain’t no joke, they pulled of one hell of a performance.
As the show went on, the crowd’s cheers got bigger, and louder. Fast forwarding to the middle of the show, the band performed their 4th original “Fall Of An Empire” which left the crowd almost voiceless, but not yet cause Reigen wasn’t even close to being finished. In between sets, the band took a little time to bring the fucking house down by performing the always crowd pleasing “wherever I may roam”, driving everybody nuts and stoked about the rest of the set. As time passed and vocal cords were being spit all over the crowd, the guys sealed the deal with their final original for the night “Rivers Run Red” leaving the crowd hyped and excited with an adrenaline rush.
Nice job guys, keep the good work, looking forward to seeing you kick ass very soon.
Next up for a Loud n’ Heavy night was new commers “Black Maiden”.
Stage presence, authentic, the guys did an awesome job being alive at 1.21 gigawatts. It’s not every day you see a Heavy Metal band with a thirst for a proper guitar shred and a decent bloodshed with an acoustic touch, in just the right places.
I mostly felt respect towards these guys for asking the crowd for a moment of silence in loving memory and respect for our beloved members from the metal scene who parted from us far sooner than they should have (thank you for reminding us of the people that we love and carry in our hearts and will till the end of time) may they forever rest in peace. In conclusion, the band was nothing less than impressive and touching & heartwarming. Thank you for a night to remember and thank you for your message, rock on my brothers.
In between acts, the event organizers and gig saviours, Rabih and Bassem Deaibess, who jumed into the line up at the last moment to cover up for both bands who couldn’t make it. Rabih and Bassem are the lead and rhythm guitarists from the phenomenal “Blaakyum” didn’t like the idea of the attendees being let down due to ZIX and Into The Void not being able to perform that night, so Rabih picked up his guitar and Bassem picked up his mic and destruction had begun.
They kicked off by starting with a couple Led Zeppelin classics, my personal favorite was “Whole Lotta Love” and the way Bassem added his personal touch actually made the song sound even better than it actually does. The guys closed up by performing “Rapture Of The Deep” by Deep Purple, resulting in a full house standing ovation.
That performance was one of the best thing I’ve seen from the Deaibess brothers and that’s saying a lot given the fact that I’ve been to almost every show they’ve performed at for the past 5 years. Thank you for an unforgettable performance and the generosity of constantly thinking about the scene.
Last and certainly not nor will they ever be the least, is the one and only Sound Of Degeneration (S.O.D) formerly known as Rebellion. Stage presence, on a scale of one to ten, 87.
As the band started with their own original “Sorry”, we could hear the vocalist but we just couldn’t see him, then we looked up and there he was, standing one story above and behind the band (nice touch brother).
As the set list went on, so did the screams for an epic performance, I personally enjoyed the vocalist’s touch of having a different costume on in almost every song, other than the fact that S.O.D. stole the show with their great music and choice of lyrics, I particularly liked the idea that their 3rd song was named after them, just like how their 7th song was named after their former band name “Rebellion”, talk about a tongue twister.
We also enjoyed how the members would vacate the stage and join the crowd as they play their instruments, one of which that the vocalist jumped off stage twice and at the second time when he almost fell back first to the ground, I caught him and placed him on my shoulder where he sang most the song before I placed him back on stage. Finally the band sealed the deal with their final song “looks that kill”, and as the song reached it’s final chorus, the vocalist did his signature move of standing on the kick drums as the drummer delivered a destructive drum solo to wrapping up the show (nicely done guys).
In conclusion, the concert was a huge success and a huge inspiration thanks to Skull Session’s Rabih Deaibess and Bassem Deaibess for making it a night of perfection and for not letting the audience down with ZIX and Into The Void being absent that night, thank you Reigen, Black Maiden and Sound Of Degeneration (S.O.D.) for one hell of a night, and thank you for all of who were there and supporting the Metal scene and making it what it is today.
It’s no surprise if I start this off by saying that the show was extremely wicked. It was great how many people were in support of Homesick’s album release, and who can blame them? These guys have come a long way.
Before I entered to observe the show, I had a hard time entering in the first place, the place was absolutely packed, no place to move whatsoever, barely any place to breathe, I personally heard someone backstage saying, “there’s already over 250 people present!!”.
First up was Vik in a Tutu, and don’t let the name fool you, these guys ain’t no joke. Stage presence, they really brought it, now I don’t know what was better, the performance or the chemistry these guys share, cause it was absolutely awesome.
The band started off the show by playing hunting for witches by bloc party and by the time they reached the second chorus people were already going nuts, later on the band performed their own original song, leaving the audience speechless and impressed.
Finally the band wrapped it up with “the killers’ ” very own “when we were young”. In conclusion, Vik in a Tutu were nothing less than amazing and they really put on a great show “way to go guys”.
Coming up next was the band that needs no introduction cause they’re the reason 250+ attended the concert, it’s none other than Homesick. People were really super excited to see Homesick perform, before the show I went backstage and sat with them for a bit, wish it could’ve been longer but there were people out there waiting for them to bring the fucking house down.
Stage presence, they were phenomenal, the band kicked off the performance with an intro, including their newest original “euphoria”, I would just like to point out that the band had a hard time starting the show with the audience constantly screaming at seeing their beloved band members, anyway as the show went on, the band reached their 3rd song for the evening “the confession”, with it came a surprise of the band mellowing down except for the drummer who gave a tremendous everlasting drum solo that made me personally put my camera down and start screaming my lungs out.
As the show went on, the band sealed the deal with their final original for the evening, “Homesick” which led to the audience sending Homesick off the stage with a shout out.
Congratulations on your debut album release and great job on a show well done.
Last but never the least was the closing band Pelikel. Stage presence, they were great. The guys kicked it off with their original “She’s Backstage” leading to massive and utter chaos.
Later on, they performed their other original “in a way” which was a real attention seizer, and finally closed up with their final original for the night “the sun”.
Nicely done guys, keep up the good work.
In conclusion, the homesick album release concert was a complete success, I personally give it two thumbs up, then again so were 500 other thumbs in the air, not to mention 1,000 horns.
Special thanks to the sound engineer Lara Nassar whom without most of this wouldn’t even be possible, and the stage technicians Farah Khodor and Iyad El Sheikh for a flawless stage performance and special thanks to Metro Al Madina for being a part of making the metal community what it is today.
Reviewed by Tarek Sekkar.
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The Neal Morse Band were on for their second night in Europe, Paris, AlHambra, a beautiful venue in the city of lights, packed with prog enthusiasts.
Neal Morse was joined with a lineup of fine musicians, Mike Portnoy on Drums, Randy George on Bass Guitar, Bill Hubauer on Keys and Eric Gillette on Guitar.
The show was very entertaining and enchanted by the different costumes of Neal Morse and a brilliant video wall behind the band.
Bill is a very skilled keys player but also provides vocal parts in a few songs, while Eric wowed the crowd every time with his guitar techniques.
A terrific show by all means, long and proggy with an epic performance by all members, Portnoy’s groovy drumming was no strange to the prog nation, it’s easy to say that two hours and a half passed really fast, with a small break half way through the show, the band took a breath to come back and continue an epic play list of the entire catalog of Neal Morse.
The ending was a surprise, the band took us on a great and proggy adventure playing a terrific encore from the finest moments of Neal Morse’s career since he began his journey as a solo artist, they started with The Land Of Beginning Again, Reunion, The Temple Of The Living God and all the way to close the curtains with The Call followed by Broken Sky and Long Day (reprise).
After the intensifying rush of Beirut Metal Fest back in September, the scene was once again gifted with a sick line up of a gig. And the best part about it? It was completely free!
Organized by the Skull Session team, Skull Session 2018 was held at The Palace, Hamra, on November 17, 2018. In case you don’t know who Skull Session is, they have been around for around 3 years, and have been working towards bettering our scene every year. They hosted the first free concert in 2016 (Read review here), which proved to be a very successful start. In 2017, they brought British thrashers Onslaught (read review here), and today they have again given our scene a free gig to enjoy.
As always, they never fail at giving us a great event, making sure that everything goes smoothly, and try to maximize comfort for both the crowd and the bands. Adapt’s guitarist, Mohammad Yatim, posted this on his Facebook page as proof of this “…not only was it professionally executed, the treatment was excellent. Not a single request was denied, and while we were merely an opening band you guys supported all of us since day one and worked hard to get all people to watch us.” So props to that!
First off, I would just like to take a moment to appreciate the location. A really big thumbs up to the venue. It was big and spacious, and there was pretty good ventilation. Smoking was allowed inside, and my eyes began to burn a little bit, but that’s normal. It was still more tolerable than any other venue I’ve been to which allowed smoking. The stage was big and could be seen clearly from anywhere you decided to stand, thanks to the venue’s stair structure. That could, however, also be considered a bad thing since people move a lot in Metal concerts and when they were moshing, it was a bit scary watching them because I was worried that someone would fall and hit their head on the edge of the stair or something. They did say moshing was not allowed, but hah, yeah right! I also found that the location of the bar was convenient, it was at the back of the venue, right as you walk in, with lots of space around it so it wasn’t crammed and you could enjoy the view of the stage from the back. Speaking about that…the sound wasn’t so good back there.
The sound was overall very good, and I think the sound was improving as the event went on, since there were constant tweakings here and there. However, I felt like it wasn’t uniform, as the back of the venue sounded too bassy and instruments were not as clear. But as you got closer to the stage, the sound got better, specially mid way, where the sound was best.
To accompany sound, lighting was cool. Nothing too fancy, but I did love the screens on the stage and the fire machines. Those were the highlight of my night. They made me laugh at times because every time a flame would pop up and a band member would be headbanging, it would look like their head was on fire.
The event started a bit late, and the doors opened around 7 p.m. , but people went in to find a screening of the first episode of Sam Dunn’s series Metal Evolution. By 7:30, it was time for the first band – Adapt. Adapt is a new band in the scene, and Skull Session was their first appearance! So, to introduce you to them they are Mario Ghadban (vocals), Mohamad Yatim (lead guitars), Jack Khamo (rhythm guitars), Sergio Ashjian (bass) and Samer Baghdo (dums). They played Gojira covers and they were fucking awesome! All the members are really talented musicians, and they were able to deliver a very solid show. I also liked that Mario had his own thing going on with the bloody makeup, many bands usually disregard stage props/outfits/image, but I think it is really important and I’m glad that they did take that into consideration. He also pulled out an axe when they performed their last Gojira cover of “The Axe”, which he used as a mic. I cannot judge them harshly, because as I mentioned it was their first appearance, and I am not sure if they have had previous experience individually on a stage before, but they should be more comfortable on the stage and try to move around some more. Their musicianship is excellent, so their comfort on stage would compliment that perfectly. I can see great things happening with this band, I can’t wait to hear some original material! Adapt, you kicked ass! Best of luck to your future.
DeathTone was the second band to perform. It’s really sad that they don’t have any recorded material out, but I guess that makes their shows special and something to look forward to. Most of the people in the crowd knew their songs from previous events, so they were singing along and moshing and having a pretty good time. Their performance was great, specially their front man, Anwar, who was engaging with the crowd all the time. His stage attitude is one of my personal favorites when it comes to local bands. The only thing that bugged me was that the left side of the stage was empty since the guitarist and bassist were standing on one side. I would have liked to see the other members move around a little more, but overall it was pretty neat. Record your shit, DeathTone! We can’t keep waiting for you to go live. *cries*
What was really cool was that the bands went off and on stage so smoothly, and didn’t make you wait for ages for the next band to start. That’s usually rare. Thumbs up to time management! I did step outside for a few minutes before the next band went on, and I couldn’t help but notice that there were a lot of new and fresh faces who came to see the show. That is always something positive and I hope that we keep seeing even more people attending metal concerts.
Nocturna were on next, and their symphonic melodies were a perfect refreshment. I think that it was my first time watching them, and I found them to be really good. The style is not my favorite, but as a band in their genre I think they are very good at what they do. Their stage presence is also very strong and crowd engaging. Something went wrong with the sound during their 3rd song I believe, and there was only one guitar that could be heard playing. The problem was solved in a few seconds, however, and it was great to see that the crowd reacted positively and actually cheered rather than complained. They also played Amon Amarth’s Twilight of the Thundergods which was bomb and got everyone excited!
AM I BLAAACKyum! What can I say? Like I don’t even need to review this band. Their drummer warms up to Meshuggah’s Bleed. The coolest thing though? They performed a new song called Rise of Canaan, which was really catchy and had some awesome riffs. But that’s not all. They surprised us with a little something called a video clip, which was being shot right there! I don’t think anyone didn’t get excited about that, and it’s such an awesome thing that they decided to do it in their home land. They also payed a tribute to our lost brothers and sisters in the metal community with their song We Who Are Dead. It was emotional looking at their photos on the screen, but it’s such a beautiful way of bringing them back, to a place they would have loved to be in, and I thank Blaakyum for that. Speaking of screens, they had snippets from parts of The Lord of the Rings movie, which I didn’t quite understand and thought that they were odd. And why the hell was there fire and smoke near Hassan (drummer)? I thought he was gonna suffocate. I asked him about that later, but he said “Nah, but I was worried about the electrical wires because they were so close”. Yeah, that shit is scary! Blaakyum are such an amazing band to watch live, their presence is so in-capturing and Bassem is such a funny man, always making jokes and making the crowd laugh. I’d watch them all night and never get fed up. So much love and respect to them!.
Finally, the last band of the evening was Phenomy! To be quite honest, I was really surprised by their performance. I heard their 2nd album T.W.O when it first got out and I thought it was a pretty good album, but lacked some elements that I usually look for. But watching them during Skull Session made me want to re-listen to the album, because they were pretty amazing. Oh, and let us not forget the awesome percussionists on the djembes who played during Threaten World Order, Fear Not, and Dance of the Wounded Souls! They added such an awesome dynamic to the whole performance, and it was something new for our local scene. And those breakdowns, boy did they break all hell loose. And I would have jumped into those intense moshpits if it wasn’t for my fear of the stairs (mentioned at the beginning of this review) haha. What I love about Phenomy on stage is that they always look like they’re having fun, like even when Sam is trying to look like a badass, he’ll pull a goofy face once in a while. I also have to point out that Sam’s performance as a front man has improved tremendously, and his voice has gotten so good! I remember watching him the first time with Phenomy in 2016 during the Christmas Mission at Quadrangle, where he was a guest vocalist, and was singing kind of a soft clean song. I did really like his voice back then, but felt like maybe he wasn’t very comfortable. There has a been a huge improvement on his part, and I commend him for his awesome advancement, and feel like he completes Phenomy. And as I mentioned before, bands who take into consideration their stage image always have the advantage. They had some pretty wicked stage props, the voodoo dolls hanging from the ceiling and their little Tiki mic stand with glowing eyes looked so cool! They were all hand made by Lourdes Mehanna, who is such a talented artist! They also had mini voodoo dolls that they threw out to the crowd to catch at the end of their show, which was super neat! Phenomy were my favorite band that night. Love love love.
Lastly, I would like to thank Skull Session for this beautiful experience and their hardworking efforts to keep this scene alive and strong. We are all grateful to have such people who care and support our local bands. Until next year!
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.
In the midst of all the hype of the international bands set to tread Lebanon, it is important to remember to support the local metal scene. And as it usually goes, Rock InSight has organized yet another event dedicated to supporting home territory, That One Night IV.
While the original lineup consisted of Nocturna, Hatecrowned, Apathia, and FreeFall, Nocturna had to apologize due to a car collision that guitarist Michel Kammouj was a part of. But fortunately they were directly replaced by DeathTone.
Starting off the event were FreeFall, a unique band in the event due to their clean vocals and relatively newer type of metal. With covers ranging from Killswitch Engage’s rendition of Holy Diver to Bullet For My Valentine, Metallica and Ozzy. The vocals were very well executed and the performance was relatively tight other than a couple of mistakes here and there.
Up next were Tripoli-based Groove Metallers Apathia. Announcing this was their last performance together, the band shook the crowd with covers of Lamb Of God, Sepultura and many more. Apathia’s final show was emotional as they featured for the last time as well their first vocalist as a guest. Unfortunately, their show didn’t pass without problems, as the rhythm guitarist broke a string mid song and had to switch guitars. Nevertheless the moshing and headbanging didn’t stop!
As Black Metal band HateCrowned stepped the stage, it was clear that the mood got darker. Kicking off the show with Mayhem’s Freezing Moon, the performance was reasonably flawless with a couple of minor mistakes. The vocals were hauntingly screeching and instrumentally the sound was creepy. Everything you’d expect from a Black Metal band.
Ending the show were Melodic Death Metal band DeathTone. However, the vocalist and lead guitarist dislocated his shoulder and there was a bit of delay. But the delay was worth it as DeathTone put on the finest performance of the evening with everything from originals to Children Of Bodom Covers. The vocalist and main axeman was highly energetic and his shredding was spot on. This performance also included the first Wall Of Death of the night, consisting only of females due to the band’s request. Prominence guitarist Matt also participated on a couple of songs.
The entire show was hosted by the highly sarcastic Charbel Haddad of Eden. And many prizes were announced varying from Beirut Metal Fest tickets to free tattoos from Saturn Tattoo shop. The sound and lights were great with no major issues. The only problem with the venue (Metro Al-Madina) is the lack of space for moshpits, otherwise the bar prices aren’t too bad and the location is remotely accessible.
Review by our reporter: Mohammad Yatim
Photos by our photographer: Hashem Ismail
Out of the ashes they surged in 2012, shaking off the rust from the wings of a dormant phoenix that had waited for years to have a sip of Lebanese metal glory. And heavily rewarded were they, with an entire generation eagerly awaiting the continuation of this journey, to quench their thirst and support a local band which looked so promising on its debut, yet couldn’t string it all together again until 2018, after almost all hopes of a new opus had been lost. Continue reading