Kaz Presents: Metro Blast
Band: Kaz Presents
Author: Carmina Khairallah - 2015-06-03
On Saturday 9th May, Metro al Madina, a venue located in Beirut's Hamra Street, reputed mainly for its local cabaret type shows, saw its heaviest event to date. Concerts by local Rock bands THE KORDZ and EPIC, as well as local Progressive Metal act OSTURA, to name a few, had taken place there in the past few years, but this time with an event called KAZ Presents: Metro Blast, the place truly shook to its core. Local acts REBELLION (Heavy Metal), PHENOMY (Melodic Thrash Metal), INNERGUILT (Thrash/Death Metal) and DEATHLAM (Black Metal) combined to give Metro al Madina a Metal rebirth.
The event started at the preannounced time of 9 pm. The first thing one could notice in stark contrast with most of the local Metal gigs that usually took place in relatively small pubs was the considerable size of the stage that gave bands way more space for their performance. It was also well lit in lighting patterns that suited each band’s style. Another striking detail was the layout of the space dedicated to the crowd. The chunk of space right at the front of the stage was reserved to those who felt like partaking in the mosh pits. As for the rest, they were able to stand or sit on several different rows that allowed them to stay away from the moshing while still being able to enjoy the show. That was a very well thought out way of using the available space of the venue as attendees undesiring to be swept by the pit and sometimes have to resolve to watch the gig from poorly isolated spots, if they manage to watch it at all. At first, though, the venue wasn’t exactly filled to the brim, which changed throughout the event but not much with a final total attendance of about 120, bands and guests included.
The first band up on the aforementioned large and well lit stage was the opening act, REBELLION. They performed the following tracks:
- Electric Eye (Judas Priest cover)
- Looks that Kill (Motley Crue cover)
- Perfect Strangers (Deep Purple cover)
- Silence Call
The band kept their promise of old school Heavy Metal with a balanced blend of covers and originals executed with the appropriate technical prowess, appearance and energy. The sound was quite clean and each instrument was well audible individually, although during some parts the volume of the vocals was a bit low compared to that of the other instruments. The members’ stage presence, mainly assured by vocalist Nigol Ozz and guitarist Ossy Mash, was energetic and engaging, but somehow it wasn’t enough to ensure the excitement of the crowd, as not many were present in the front row and those who were didn’t present much visible enthusiasm, mainly towards the end of the performance. It was, however, a well-executed performance that delivered as required.
The next band to grace the stage was PHENOMY. It was their first appearance since their participation in the Persian Rock & Metal Festival in Turkey last March. Their playlist was:
- Blackened (Metallica cover)
- The Haunting
- Unleash the Beast
- For Whom the Bell Tolls (Metallica cover)
- Once and for All
- Sealing Fate
During the first song, vocals were assured by a friend of the band, Drako Fog. His stage presence was a bit shaky as it mostly involved pacing around the stage at random, but his voice and energy did the job well when it came to getting things started. Then band’s vocalist Adel Cbf immediately took his shift with no interruptions (except a tiny issue with the microphone) for the next song. The band’s sound was clear when it came to individual volume of each instrument, but the general sound was too high and somehow lacked bass, which gave it an overall feeling of something not being quite right. Apart from that, the band showed obvious technical progress since their earlier events, and their performance was energetic and engaging. The crowd in the front was still a bit small but quality trumped quantity as head banging was the norm and inceptions of mosh pits emerged. All in all, they definitely managed to stroke the fire.
Next up was INNERGUILT, a band who does not need to prove their worth anymore. They performed the following original tracks:
- In This Prison
- Burden of Guilt
- My Time to Destroy
- Slanderous Society
- Through Narrow Corridors (new)
- Terrorized by Silence
- A New Deception
Throughout their whole performance, INNERGUILT was the perfect picture of the band who are so utterly comfortable on stage that they are thus able to enjoy themselves fully while getting the whole crowd to do the same without a single ounce of visible pressure. Their sound was really good, with an added bass that was just what was needed to get the audience’s blood pumping a little bit more. Their stage presence was explosive and the crowd’s response to their sound was equally so. But what made the band stand out even more was their interaction with the audience, in the hands of their vocalist Sako Helvajian. Throughout his band’s performance, he made several comments, some of which sometimes seemingly irrelevant. They spanned from asking the crowd to come forward and head bang with no care for their neck pain, to asking for all the girls in the audience to scream totally out of nowhere then whistling in appreciation. The contrast between that nonchalant attitude and the vigorous vocals that never failed to follow was highly refreshing, as sometimes some bands tend to take themselves and everything else a bit too seriously, so a genuine down to earth attitude is always quite welcome. The band ended their performance by asking for an applause for the venue, organizer and sound engineer, then taking a selfie with the crowd, asking them all to put their horns up. A fitting end to yet another great performance by INNERGUILT
Finally, it was up for DEATHLAM, who delivered the following original tracks:
- Maggot Remains
- Let Kill Let Die
- Reign of Terror
- The Last March
One of the great things about DEATHLAM is that you can’t see them on stage without immediately recognizing them as a Black Metal band. Dressed all in black, accessories adorned in humongous spikes, the guys just exuded a delightfully ominous aura. The band started by acknowledging the very little amount of attendees left (which had indeed been at least cut in half since the previous band), then resumed with exploding on stage shortly afterwards. The sound was surprisingly good despite the delicate task that is obtaining good Black Metal sound live. The tiny handful of attendees who was still in the front was making it a point of demolishing what little was left of their necks and other bodily protrusions with admirable dedication. The band’s stage presence was not very active but corresponded to the required demeanor, and vocalist Sam Kasparian’s interaction with the audience was totally laid back, almost a bit too much. He concluded his band’s performance with a highly eloquent “thank you all, you all now have AIDS”, which was surprisingly appropriate to everything else that had happened in the past half hour. All in all, DEATHLAM played their role perfectly and delivered a more than adequate ending to the night.
Metro al Madina did a great job at providing a spacious, well distributed venue that helped tremendously in the completion of the event, but one detail about it bothered a good chunk of the attendees, and it was increasingly obvious towards the end of the event. The place is made of two parts, a bar and the venue, that are separated by a door. The bar area was playing Rock and soft-ish Metal music towards the beginning of the event, but later on they turned towards more “traditional” Arabic tracks, seemingly to please their usual crowd, despite the event going on just a door away. The place is not sound isolated, so the music was perfectly audible during any dead point of the concert, and going out for a cigarette implied having to elbow through a totally different and visibly ticked off crowd.
All in all, though, it was a very well executed event that generally contented those who did attend it. The Lebanese Metal Scene has definitely taken a more serious turn since its once-every-other-month small pub Metal nights, and we hope that that will give it the push that it still desperately needs. Thank you Metro al Madina, KAZ Presents, REBELLION, PHENOMY, INNERGUILT, DEATHLAM and everyone else involved for making it happen, and we hope to hear more from you in the future.