Friday, 26 February 2010

Metal Flowers In The Desert

Wherever you go in the world you find the Metal. I've walked through Malaysian jungles and found kids living in stilt villages wearing Metallica t-shirts. A chum of mine ended up having the most frightening night of his life in a Maori Heavy Metal bar in New Zealand, and being a hairy beggar I regularly get similarly hirsute folks the planet over coming up to me, giving me a hug and shouting the bonding cry "Heavvvvvy Metaaaaaaaaaallllll!!!" at me like I'm a long lost brother.

So I shouldn't have been surprised to discover that Bahrain has a thriving metal scene. What I wasn't expecting was how darned unique and inventive it was. I stumbled across a fantastic band called THEE PROjECT during one of those massive MySpace click through sessions you do (well, I do), and  I was immediately hooked. Not the formula widdly guitar solo hair-shaking pose for these boys. Neither the wedge-haired and angular-elbowed screemo that seems to be digesting the planet. No, these boys were thoughtful, original and quite entertainingly dark.

Swathed in woolly black balaclavas (which must be an effort enough in such a desert setting) and pounding out a fractured mix up of the stop-starty metal chunk favoured by Dillinger Escape Plan and their chums, with a dark punky alt edge, and occasional forays into reggae, folk and local folk musics, they claim, rather pleasingly, that they follow a three-point formula in their musical creation process...

"1. Make each song a different style than the previous.
2. Try to cover different genres of music.
3. Boost it up by making it head-banging friendly."

And they certainly succeed in their refreshing musical plan. Each song has a complete and distinct universe of its own, while still retaining an over-arching feel to the music that suggests it could only come from a single source. They've just released a blisteringly good new album called Thee Art of Mehyawa, that's packed with ace noise and a dark and wry sense of humour. I heartily suggest that you track it down like a dog and get it while you can.

While Bahrain is one of the more liberal of the Gulf states, it can still be classed as a conservative state by our fancy dan European standards. A loose mob of Metal fans calling themselves Bahraini Rockers have been trying to put on gigs, but their shows are frequently cancelled by the authorities, with stories of kids being turned away from the shows by security for wearing too much make up and what they call 'satanic t-shirts'. So it's a wonder that any kind of scene has managed to survive - let alone thrive in such an interesting and exciting way.

And THEE PROjECT are just the tip of the iceberg. More traditionally loud and doomy acts like The Mushroom Massacre, Motör Militia, Smouldering In Forgotten and the amazingly brutal Arabic-language Death metal mob Narjahanam are cropping up all over the island - and every one of them begs a listen. And when you find them, keep clicking through on their friends lists and see what other wonders you can uncover!

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1 comment:

  1. Ah yes, the MySpace click through sessions. Been there my friend. It is truely amazing what you can find out there. I used to love going through the racks in record shops doing a similar thing. Of course, back in those days you could only go by the record/CD cover but then that was part of the thrill of the thing - getting it home, putting it on and seeing if you had made a wise purchase. Often I hadn't but then that just made a good choice all the more special. And it was more of a commitment than Myspace, handing over hard earned cash and not knowing what you were getting in return. Erm, yes, so maybe it wasn't all good then? Keep trawling on our behalf and letting us know what's worth following up.