After months of preparations and searching for adequate members, Ostura, a Lebanese power metal band formed by excellent musicians from the region was formed. I would like to thank their drummer Chris Naimeh for this live interview which we had at Dunkin’ Donuts – Jeita.
- How many members are there? I heard there are several vocalists…
Well, to begin with, it’s a rock opera, the first of its kind in the Middle East, and obviously we do have many members:
Chris Naimeh (drums) Danny Bou Maroun (keys) Elie Honein (guitar)
The sessionists play bass, violin, and acoustic guitar. We also have 4 vocals, a growler, and a choir of 4 members. It was the hardest part, choosing the members, especially that power metal vocals are difficult to find. We will be adding more members for the 2nd project though.
- The band’s name is “Ostura” [‘Tale/Legend’ in Arabic]. Do you guys have any oriental/Lebanese feel in the music ?
Honestly, no. We chose Ostura to have something related to Lebanon. This name will help us raise the Lebanese metal scene. Oriental feelings wouldn’t fit much with this album’s lyrics, but for example we do have Celtic music in some songs. We will definitely use oriental scales on the next album.
- What is the main epic tale in the album?
It’s an opus more than a tale. We had to cut off many parts in the story due to some small difficulties we had. Mainly it’s about a tyrant ruling the land which became home to corruption, chaos, and decay. And of course there will be a hero trying to restore order.For the second album, there will be a new story, not a sequel, and it’s gonna be unique, not your basic good-wins-over-evil tale.
- Can we consider your music closer to Avantasia or Epica?
If I had to define our style, I’d say it’s close to melodic epic progressive power symphonic opera metal (laughs). Our aim was not to make a music like any other band, but if I had to choose between Epica and Avantasia, it’ll be Avantasia since there are multiple vocals, instruments, and they concentrate more on the storyline than Epica, yet we differ a lot from Avantasia since there are some progressive elements in our music, plus there are many shifts in our songs. There isn’t any standard song.
- This is the second time you, Danny, and Elie work together after forming Aztec 3 years ago. Do you share the same musical vision of a power metal band or each one has his own direction?
Actually Elie and I began playing (drums and guitar respectively) at the same time and listened to the same bands for about 9 years. Even Danny listens to this style occasionally. I can say I’m really lucky for having met them since it’s really difficult to find epic power metal fans here in the region.
- What are the major influences behind the album?
For me, it would be Symphony X, Rhapsody of Fire, Stratovarius. For Danny, say The Lord of the Rings soundtrack (Howard Shore), John Williams, Beethoven…
- Who is the main composer? And the main lyricist?
Danny composed all of the songs, but Elie also played a main part in the composition of half of the songs. As for the lyrics, I wrote all of them.
- What material has been recorded so far and where is it being recorded and produced?
We are done with the instruments except the bass lines. The vocals and some of the choir lines will be recorded very soon.
It’s being recorded, mixed, mastered, and produced at Karim Sinno’s studio. He helped us a lot, and I dare say he is one of the best in the country. No doubt the second album will be at his studio as well.
- So far what is your favorite track on the album and why?
Here’s a nasty one (laughs). Well in a certain track, you ‘ll like a part more than in another song and vice versa. For me, I’d say the longest track, Ashes of the Reborn, would be on top since all the vocals, instruments, and choir contribute in it. Yet it’s not a typical medley, there is no repeated part, there is no keyboard-only part in the beginning neither a 3-minute keyboard fade out at the end like most 15-minute power metal songs. But I can’t really choose a “best” song; i love them all.
- When will the album be released?
The vocals should be done this month. We will try to release it during the holiday season, though I can’t promise anything since we live in Lebanon, you know the drill. Basically it will be released only in Lebanon for the first 3 months, then we’ll hit the foreign countries. Our first targets are France and the US since we have strong connections there. In case we have a positive feedback, we’ll surely distribute it in more countries, especially European.
- How do you expect will the album be received here since, unfortunately, power metal isn’t much listened to in the local scene?
It’s a subjective question, depending on who listens to it, but what I’m sure of is that people out of the scene will surely be attracted to it. And for those interested, we do have a death metal scale in a song, dark obscure moods in some parts of the opus (for black metal fans). I do hope that everyone in the local scene will love it, especially since we tried to deviate from your everyday power metal band.
- When can we expect to see Ostura live?
We may play next summer, but it’s difficult since we need to have all the members on stage and no stage can hold up to 20 something members with their equipment here, but we surely are considering the idea.
- Any final thoughts/comments?
I just hope that non-power metal and non-metal fans give it a shot and listen to it, since we really worked hard on it. Plus we need support to continue on with the second album, since we self-financed the album. We started from scratch with no label. The local scene here thinks locally and acts locally, it’s no secret. Very few bands aim to release albums worldwide and play in major festivals, most of them think of doing a band just for the fun of it, and to play covers. What I’m saying is, we should act globally, since we should show the Middle East and the world that metal bands from an Arab country have amazing talent.