Walls Of Death 3rd Anniversary
Band: Walls of Death
Author: Tarek - 2014-12-22
On Saturday December 6th, the Egyptian metal scene witnessed another night of brutal rituals at El Sawy Culturewheel, which seems to be the usual place now for Metal concerts in the Capital. For their anniversary, Walls Of Death crew saved no effort to bring it big and loud, gathering some of the biggest names in scene such as SCARAB, SINPROPHECY and AHL SINA, along with MEPHOSTOPHILIS and two of the new promising names on the scene: VERITATEM SOLAM and ABSOLUTION
Being away from the scene for a while, I had high hopes for this event to deliver a worthy experience to my ears, and the line-up consisting mainly of Extreme bands promised nothing less than but a night of headbanging and escalating adrenaline levels. The prior attacks of the press on Metal music -which we are quite familiar within Egypt every now and then- put more pressure on the organizers to manage a safe well-arranged event, and on the audience to show more support both to the organization -being one of the few left on the country- and the bands to keep moving forward in this hectic circumstances.
The night started with almost a full stacked venue of enthusiastic Metal fans at 6:15 -almost an hour late from the supposed beginning time- which was nothing strange from the regular conducting of concerts in Egypt, sometimes even arranged by the organizers to cope up with the regular Egyptian tradition of showing up late.
ABSOLUTION, a Progressive Folk Metal band, was the first to hit the stage. Being their first time as a band on stage, the usual weirdness was something expected as it took the guys -specially on the vocal's section- some time to get more comfortable on stage and a bit improvement was noticed towards the end.
As the set-list kept going forward, it was obvious that these guys can hold their instruments but the main criteria to the performance that it was too clean to my ears, the kind of riffs that hold their stand theoretical-wise but fail to have this charm that keeps you humming the riff afterwards.
Obvious difficulties in the sound mixing was something hard to ignore, specially the balance between the instruments, as the drums sometimes seemed higher than the surrounding players, muffing their presence specially the vocals and the lead guitars, which hindered me from exploring this band full potential, but nevertheless giving the adequate attention to working on their harmony and exploring their identity is something that can turn their whole outcome upside down.
After that, we were up for an early headliner with SINPROPHECY's performance. Being one of the few survivors in the local metal scene for a while now, they got their fans used to a level of professionalism and an expected deliverance on the stage. With the previous difficulties the band faced right before, replacing the lead guitarist and drummer, it seems they got as far as the time they had on their hands. Unfortunately, the sound seemed unstable here too, changing the balance and volume of the instruments every now and then.
Their vocalist Sayed Ragai, a front man known with his capabilities to get the crowd moving around, seemed to be struggling with his leg injury, which prevented him from moving as he was used to do on stage, but he gave his best and the crowd started to get more engaged, throwing the first of many to come moshpits. With a Metal scene in the heart of the Arabian world, moshpits have been one the controversial acts from the Metal fans to the society and the venues owners in particular, to the extent of canceling many events and even banning the whole genre from most of the countries' venues and theaters, and although moshpits have been one of the most constructive ways to blow off steam and almost always ending well all over the globe, it has a mysterious factor here in Egypt to turn into a real fight. Probably some of the guys have hard time differentiating between a moshpit and a boxing match!!!
So the moshpit ban, from the venue owners derived on the organizers, and which as usual stated on the event's regulations, seems to be meaningless to a lot of the fans, leaving the event organizers running every now and then trying to cool thing off and break them to get the gigs going, and although I can relate to many of the fans expectations and hopes of acting freely and banging the hell out of their skulls, a much reasonable understanding of the local circumstances and the scene and a bit of coping with it may give the scene the much needed push it needs, instead of running on the same closed circles since the nineties of temporal rising, then press and police attacks, followed by venues bans to start from scratch again.
Having only heard rough versions of two songs of VERITATEM SOLAM without ever seeing them live before, I didn't know what to expect from these guys, which is something I was going to appreciate later. The first word that came to mind when these guys kicked off is charisma, which is something that you can't buy, you either have it or not and they have it.
Smooth act going from one track to another comfortably, with decent engagement with the crowd and between the band members. The mix between traditional death riffs along the more modern oriented melodies was faultless and I caught myself humming some of their riffs after the show, specially with "The Ultimatum", although I feel a more original interpretation and fusion of their influences is something that can set them aside from a lot of good bands that play along the same area. Needless to say, the same sound problems and imbalances were present here as well.
Although MEPHOSTOPHILIS music is not my usual cup of tea, I had the opportunity to see these guys long time ago on the stage, and I have to say that a long road has been crossed, specially in the stage performance area. These guys, specially the vocalist Mahmoud Abu Elkomssan, were on the zone that night, keeping the vibe of the crowd always heated, to the extent that kept the crowd screaming for one more track after their last act. It was about time towards the end of their show for the event to live up to its name and for us to witness the first wall of death in the night, but the organizers were obligated to cool things and break it up as usual.
After a long awaited comeback, AHL SINA took the stage before the night came to its end. This performance was personally my most awaited act and by the walking around the venue it seemed to be the same case for many, as their last live performance stands among my favorite acts in the scene ever. This time, they came back with almost an entire new team, changing some of the band's main stone corners directly before the concert. As they started, I sensed a noticeable improvement in the sound's quality from the previous bands -specially when I didn't hear the acoustic instruments and percussions at all throughout most of this event- as the Nai was really clear and despite being the largest band in numbers, a nice balance between the instruments was there, probably by sacrificing a bit of the rhythm guitars sound and power, but that's a comprise I could take.
The heroes of the act were without doubt the Nai player Ahmed El Eskandarany, which was man of the night for me, catching my ears since the first tone and killing me by his amazing intro in the second track "The Gift", that kept ringing in my ears a while after the concert, along Boudy Sherief, who delivered a nice act on the keyboards too. Karma seemed to have some difficulties catching with the band flow and harmony, which was the biggest problem among the whole band as I felt as they were trying to discover each other on the stage, and it took her a couple of missed tones and two tracks till she started to heat up a bit and step up her performance in the third track, which was ended by a killer solo, which I had to salute the guitarist for.
The night ended with the death metal headliners SCARAB, who grow to be the face of Egyptian Extreme Metal over the past few years. They showed a decent stable act as what is expected from a band with their experience, and managed to deliver a well-balanced heavy sound, despite Al Sharif¡s struggle with the second mic to even chatting with the sound engineers a couple of times to fix it.
After their second track "Serpents of the Nile", which was taken from their new soon to be released CD, another big moshpit started, this time leading to an act of violence between a couple of the participants, leaving SCARAB's vocalist Sammy threatening not to continue the set and leave before a couple of the organizers and fans drag the "fighters" out of the arena, leaving the venue clear for the band to go on, but with a lot of distracted minds towards the ongoing debates outside between the guys who started the fight, and unfortunately without needing a detective to figure it out. The usual reasons for these usual acts of violence in the Metal scene are basic high school stuff that leads to nothing but wasting the organizers enormous efforts to organize Metal events despite all who oppose, and the real fans who came basically to enjoy the music.
SCARAB managed to go through the night with a decent set-list of their new and old albums, playing some of the popular tracks as "Blinding the Masses", giving the audience what they paid for, and as the night ended it seemed we earned a couple of new bands that can add to the equation, an aspirant organization which proved to be a survival and a new bile of the usual chaos that has been sticking since forever.
Reviewed by: Tarek
Photographer: Lina El Gohary