Last year, when Blaakyum were touring Europe alongside the almighty Onslaught, none of us thought we’d get to catch them on home turf. So once it was announced that ONSLAUGHT would be headlining this year’s edition of Skull Session at Station Beirut, we all guessed it was going to be big. Especially when the line-up was composed of other great bands such as Blaakyum, Damage Rite, and Slave To Sirens. Continue reading
Nature embraced the scene and good music took refuge in the arms of holy mother nature. The good scenery, alongside the smells of fresh air and great beer, was the perfect place to be.
And the event’s “venue” couldn’t have gotten more punk. From the anti-ohm signs that directly alerted the hippies that this was no psychedelic ground to the DIY venue.
The river and its side were great and the tents of fellow camping metalheads were scattered all around it.
Soon afterwards, a fire was built and the animal-tolerant BBQ began. And we feasted amongst nature’s crowned lands. And it felt just right.
And finally, once the moon was lighting the skies and the soundcheck was over, it was time for the valley to acknowledge the great music presented by the bands.
Photo credit to: Selfish Gene
DIY started the concert with their well-known punk music setting the mood for great hardcore music. The headbanging began and the moshpits scattered all around right in the middle of the valley as no one was safe from the moshing! Covering a lot of ground from new originals to classic known covers such as Bite It You Scum and the event’s theme song ECSTASY KILLED THE ANARCHY.
Next were Black Leather, a new band with an old sound. The newcomers directly shifted the crowd from great hardcore music to good ol’ Rock N’ Roll. They went from a groove that introduced the crowd to the band, ending it with the awesome HighWay Demon. The band took us back in time to the magnificent rock music of the 80s.
Last but not least, came the almighty thrashers Agressor. The headbanging was back more than ever and the moshpits were nonstop. Starting it with their usual Willfully Blind, transferring the crowd back to old school thrash metal. And as a finale, the performance was ended with my all-time favorite TOXIC KARABALAA, leading to the formation of one of the most brutal moshpits I’ve been in.
Once the clock hit 12, the concert was done, but the night was still young, for we gathered around the fire playing unplugged guitar and warming our bodies with good Scottish fuel.
A new day welcomed us by the rising of the sun, and we fueled our bodies once again as we set to leave.
This event was worked hard upon and I’d like to raise a toast for the awesome men that helped make it happen.
“A once in a life time event” – that is how Mike described this tour once it all started to become a reality. This is a fantasy to every Dream Theater fan since 2010, and it was indeed an incredible gift to us all. Mike Portnoy Shattered Fortress Paris show reviewed below.
Once the announcement was out, a clear excitement from the local scene was shown everywhere. This festival sounded awesome in terms of being purely METAL. It also had an epic local lineup including the return of KAOTEON. And it finally brought an international death metal to the scene. Continue reading
The night everyone was waiting for: The Swedish metal band in Dubai! JoScene announced it earlier in December 2016 and everyone went crazy. It was hosted again in the almighty The Music Room. This is not the first visit for Katatonia to the Middle East as they took part in Beirut Rock Fest in 2011 at the stage of the Roman Amphitheater in Zouk Mikael, but it surely is the first time in the Emirates. Without further ado, let’s jump in the review you’ve been waiting for.
Benevolent, the extreme metal Dubai band, went on first. The room was already packed and since these guys have been around, the audience knew them by heart, to the extent that people showed up earlier just for them. The band played seven tracks; most of them were from their album The Covenant, such as ‘Void’, ‘Asphyxia’, and the highlight of their night: ‘The Seeker’. It’s important to mention how professional they were in their sound system. I don’t know if the sound quality was unusually good that night in the Music Room, but overall, they gave an amazing performance and had every element of professionalism.
Next in line was Bilocate, a Jordanian band with a history of rejection in their home country and other Middle Eastern countries, but were welcome with open arms in Dubai, performing 2 years ago with Metal East Records in the Music Room – read about it here.
The band is a blend of multiple genres of metal; the mixture of doom, melodic, and death/doom, unique vocal ranges, complex rhythm, and overall loudness are what make Bilocate. The stage performance was wild and it felt like a union between the beauty of Opeth and the aggression of death metal blended together to create a balance of beauty and power of the metal genre. However, the audience engagement wasn’t as good. Maybe they were saving their energy to Katatonia? Most people went back and chilled after Benevolent although these guys gave their all. They played six tracks ranging from all albums, such as ‘The Tragedy Within’, ‘A Desire to Leave’, plus one cover by Paradise Lost, ‘Dead Emotion’, which was also recorded in their latest album, Summoning the Bygones, in 2012. Honestly, I’m waiting for something from these guys soon.
Finally, the band everyone in Dubai was waiting for, Katatonia, which I don’t think needs to be introduced. The Doom/Death Metal band have been around since 1993 and have 10 albums, the last released in 2016: The Fall of Hearts.
Now, before digging into the review, it’s worth mentioning that in past live performances, they were characterized by a lack of strength in Jonas’ live vocals in contrast to his recorded versions, so I was a bit worried that their live shows were not as good as the recorded versions. But that day changed my mind; they were 100 times better than I expected. The sound quality and vocals were so good that it felt like listening to their recorded versions. Katatonia’s stage performance was intense and didn’t leave out any aspect of Doom and Melodic Metal unvisited, it was magical to be honest and gave the dark atmosphere of the club a majestic light. They played 15 tracks, which was a good long list to have, mostly ranging from their last four albums since 2006 till their latest in 2016. They started their setlist with ‘Last Song before the Fade’ and ended with ‘Forsaker’. Check out the whole list here:
Last Song Before the Fade
Day and then the Shade
Old Heart Falls
For My Demons
In the White
The band had an extremely energetic presence, which was met by a powerful crowd who knew the songs by heart.
That night was definitely a night to be looking forward to and whoever missed it, oh you missed a lot. Kudos to JoScene for their efforts in bringing these bands and growing out the metal scene in the Middle East.
Ten years after their split-up, Hamra-based Nightchains decided to have a reunion with the original vocalist Max to take the lead. The event was a one-time deal, no signs or announcement of a possible reunion of the band.
On Saturday November 6, we arrived only to find a few people gathered in front of the venue. The crowd wasn’t much during the event either, maybe around 60 people showed up. And it is a shame, because the event was a true Metal night, a night to remember.
Before getting into the band performances, I would like to talk briefly about the light and sound. Wait! What light? There was actually none; some red and blue dots and a stroboscope that didn’t help much in setting up the mood for the event. But the sound on the other hand was great, raw, clean, harsh, and perfect for the evening.
The openers were Agressor! Who are those guys? Well, we know Mohamad Younis (Nightchains drummer who was playing the guitars and vocals). But I never knew they existed and they don’t even have a Facebook page; it seemed to me they were only formed for this particular event as a one-time band. But let me tell you, they were crazy good. A great well-fit performance with great attitude.
Then came out the headliners, Nightchains. Again, it is a pity that only a few got to witness this. The band is top-notch; they have the best crowd-band interaction you can ever see. The lack of an actual stage helped too. The band were at the level of the crowd as if they were performing in between them, which gave the impression of a Big Happy family. The most remarkable thing was that people reacted much more to the originals of Nightchains than anything else I have seen. Some were singing along, others were screaming high pitches with Max.
Max was a power force on the microphone, and his attitude was really enjoyable: jokes, laughter, and heavy singing. We actually didn’t feel we were at a concert, we rather felt that we were a part of it, and that’s all due to the charisma of the band leader and musicians. Tex was flawless on his guitar, giving those crazy old school solos with his authentic guitar sound; nothing can be any better. I enjoyed Mohammad Younis’s drumming the most; it is fast, hard, and well, the beat makes you headbang. Rami Hawila did an incredible job on the bass as well; he completed and filled in for the guitar while keeping up the tempo of the songs intact.
Now for the best part: THE CROWD. There is no successful concert with a lame crowd, and Nightchains fans are not lame at all. The moshing didn’t stop, the headbanging didn’t stop, and they were the last ring to complete the “Chain”. An incredible crowd indeed.
In short, it was a night for the ages, and whoever didn’t come, missed a lot. And you might say I am exaggerating, but really, maybe you have to see it with your own eyes to believe it.
The band was formed during the year 2003 and split up just short of 3 years later in 2006. Nightchains managed to self-release a low produced album entitled “Metal To The Bones” that was recorded live with no further mixing or mastering. Metal To The Bones sounds similar to early Metallica, and Paul Di’anno’s Iron Maiden with a Manowarian spirit in the lyrics and composition, and a little bit of Judas Priest here and there. In 2010, the band resurfaced on social media and the album was re-released through DEAD MASTER’S BEAT.
Arriving a few minutes before the show started, I was struck by the size of the crowd and how hyped people were in Metro that night. The venue was packed to the point that we couldn’t even elbow our way past the crowd to get a bit closer to the stage.
A free metal concert? Yes, it happened! “Skull Session” was held on the 8th of September, as “a free event for all Heavy Metal enthusiasts featuring a selection of some of the best bands in the Lebanese Metal society today: Blaakyum, Phenomy, Turbulence, and Qantara”. As Bassem Deaibess told us in an interview, the concert was held in order to encourage metal heads and people from the scene to attend, promising entertainment and good music! Continue reading