Review by Amer Alameddine
Blood Ink are one of the few bands around that take their style in a serious manner. So when I heard that they were the main band of an event in Tantra, and that Blaakyum were playing as well, I expected a lot of people to come. However, the number of attendees was moderate, but still the event was a pretty good one.
The opening band was Frozen Flames, who covered Iron Maiden songs exclusively, starting their set with “Aces High”, an Iron Maiden classic and certainly a crowd favorite. At first, the guitar solos weren’t heard well enough, and the bass was a bit too high, but that was taken care of by the time they started with their next song “Dance of Death”. The guys not only play the songs well enough, but they also put the effort to perform well on stage, which is something that a lot of local bands disregard. The next two songs they played were “The Trooper” and “Fear of the Dark”, and although their overall performance was well, the vocalist wasn’t able to sustain the long screams.
The next band that performed was Monarchy. One thing that was great about this band was the synchronization among the instruments, which isn’t easy to accomplish when playing progressive metal. They covered songs by Dream Theater and Symphony X and also included one original. The sound wasn’t great; in fact it was a bit fuzzy, especially during the keyboard parts. The guitar solos were good: very few mistakes were made. The vocalist definitely needs practice; when he growled, he sounded a bit too core-oriented, and when he sang with his clean voice, he wasn’t nailing the pitches properly. Overall, the band was okay.
When Monarchy were done, it was time for Blaakyum to hit the stage. The band’s originals included diversity and oriental influences which sounded great. “Am I Black” and “Cease Fire” were the highlights of their performance; everyone enjoyed these songs. The sound was good, the vocals were great, the vocalist’s high pitches were flawless, the guitar solos were flawless, the bassist’s lines were fast and aggressive and the drumming was pretty intense. Overall the band’s performance was flawless.
Last up was the main band of the event, Blood Ink. Now although I’m not a fan of the style they play in particular, I can definitely say that the band has a lot of experience, and I enjoyed their performance. The originals showed great musicianship and uniqueness, and portrayed the members’ good skills; my favorite part of the songs was how the bass lines rarely followed the guitar riffs, and included techniques such as tapping and slapping which made the songs more eclectic and appealing. Another cool thing Roy, the bassist, did was jump into the crowd with his Warwick bass and join the mosshers. Aside from the originals, the band’s covers included “Bodies (Let the Bodies Hit the Floor)” by Drowning Pool, “Chop Suey”, “Toxicity”, and “BYOB” by System of a Down, “Redneck”, and “Walk with Me in Hell” by Lamb of God. The last song mentioned was played along with Kamal from Element 26 on vocals. Monarchy’s vocalist also joined the band in some of their of covers as well.
Overall, all in all the event was good one, but it was disappointing that it wasn’t attended by many people.
Review by Rami Rouhana
I will be reviewing the event in brief sentences, summarizing all that caught my attention in the event.
Frozen Flames were the first band to perform. At first, the sound was still being mixed to get the best quality; guitars were still low while playing Aces High for Iron Maiden, still the sound quality was good! All guitar solos were played nicely and clearly (there was no major mistakes). I noticed that the vocalist was getting tired and “suffocating” through some passages. We all know singing what Bruce Dickinson sings is not easy. Overall, Frozen Flames came well prepared for the show:
Dance of Death: Good timing along the long track. I think Frozen Flames is a band destined to grow with its fan base.
The Trooper: The guys where flaming and really energetic on stage. The vocalist was not heard at times, but again the Trooper requires alot of stamina.
Fear of the Dark: Timing is always good. One guitar sounded a bit of tune and noisy. This one got the band jumping on stage of course except the drummer. It’s a metal “show”!.
Good Attribute: All bands practice playing , yet not all practice playing on stage.
Monarchy went next on stage. Again the guitar sounded low, the vocalist’s clean voice did not suit the music. In the first track, the band was well synchronized though it was a complex intro (the sound was a bit noisy at that point). Some instruments were over distorted like the keyboard but at mid performance the sound was well mixed.
Monarchy played an original. I couldn’t understand its name but I think it is “Great War “Atlantis”. I’m sure someone will correct me in the comments. It’s not bad, well filled with slow beats that got the crowd moving along. Guitarist shows great technicality in the solo played along some nice walking bass (close to slap).
Blaakyum started their set with a ‘Majestic” intro and entrance of Bassem Deaibess (lead vocalist) with the long black leather coat.
Something seemed wrong with the drum tuning. They started with something close to prog metal which was surely a beautiful performance. Elias Njeim was impressing everyone with super quality shred techniques.
Bassem introduced the next track as an Oriental original “The next song is a very Lebanese one”. “My Land” with an amazing performance as always.
No need to review Blaakyum and that’s obvious.
Bassem then announced the title track from Blaakyum album “Lord of the Night”. The track is directed towards Oriental thrash. Lyrics are inspired from Lord of the Rings as Bassem repeats the words “One ring to find them all”.
“Am I Black” > the Blaakyum “classic” was to be next. Intro is filled only with Bassem playing guitar and singing alone then came a keyboard solo, Bass guitar solo and another key solo. It is a Beautiful classic ballad.
Another track of the album “Awakened Dooms ” (Track names are spelled as heard. I consider my self one of the crowd and that’s why I dont ask the band later for the track names. I think if track names are important and they should be written well bands should be careful and spell them well 😛 No offense to anyone, I hope you understand my point Bassem). The track is “Beautiful”. The drum playing is very solid but I was expecting more creative drums. Focus seemed directed towards the bass and keys. This one might become a future radio all time classic. The Level of musicianship is truly impressive and that is well defended by the newly announced Blaakuym member, Ex-VOID Joe Hannouch.
Cease Fire >Another one of Blaakyum’s greatest hits which was played at GBOB finals in London in 2007.
There are some changes in this new live performance. The crowd went nuts. That was the best concert I attended this year as of sound and performance.
Last track played included beautiful riffs with so much aggression reflected in the moshing yet it ended more like Nu-Metal.
Blood Ink was the last band to be on stage as expected and holding the event’s name. There is not much to be said about bands we grew up on and who’s tracks grew on us, rooting us in the Lebanese metal scene.
First track was of System of a Down’s B.Y.O.B. which surely outperformed V.O.T.S as in band synchronization and better sound. P.S: I will be waiting for an improved V.O.T.S. performance… I unfortunately missed their last concert in NOVA.
Bassist Roy Naufal risked his life and the life of his precious bass guitar and went into the middle of the moshpit.
Godsmack’s “Awake” is very close to the original band’s performance. I think they are able to tour on behalf of Godsmack 😛
Metalheads in the world generally stick to a certain subgenre of metal yet Lebanese metalheads are so confused and metal loving that they fall in love with all subgenres. You will see a black metal fanatic headbanging on a System of a Down track.
Attendance was surprisingly low: about 200. Stage lighting is well placed, there was a smoke machine and the sound was well installed and distributed as promised by RockRing.
The flyer in the back “Blood Ink” looked badly damaged by small rectangular plies. (Tip of the day ! Never ply a flex poster! Roll it! :P)