I was expecting GBOB heats to be more or less entertaining; the first heats shifted my opinion to a more positive one and the fourth totally convinced me. With every heat, GBOB is getting more interesting and the bands are preparing and performing better than ever.
On this heat, the competition was between Imaginism, December Dies Alone (DDA), Monarchy and Episode. It was the first time I see Episode and Imaginism perform and probably more than the fourth time seeing DDA and Monarchy perform. Here’s what I saw and heard:
I don’t know much about Imaginism but I am willing to find out more because these guys have talent and they should work on it. Imaginism played proggy experimental music with an interesting blend of musical and vocal styles. Their way of arranging is original for sure … As I have heard, it was their first performance ever and surely being nervous made them slip some mistakes. With more experience in live performances along with fine-tuning their arrangement, they could be one of the future big local bands. For this GBOB challenge, Imaginism weren’t ready to sound as a mature well bonded band, but I still encourage them to keep going, give us some live performances and get ready for the next GBOB.
Then came ‘DDA‘, a band which most of the young metalheads have seen perform more than once and bought their first EP and heard it well … Their performance this time was amazing; perhaps they gave their best with the help of a well tuned sound and the ‘challenge’ mindset. There was only one weak point which was the rhythm guitar player’s performance as backing vocal: he does not have a good voice and when it comes to soloing he still needs some practice.
Third on stage was ‘Monarchy‘, also a band with established fan/supporter base. Monarchy are preparing an album to be released soon. They have enough experience and are ready for the stage. Their performance again was very good, but they still have a weakness in their arrangement: for me their melodic vocal lines seemed too repetitive sometimes although the vocalist Omar has talent but as my friend Nathalie (vocalist of Bandage) mentioned “He still has a lot of work to do”.
Last on stage in round 1 was ‘Episode‘, a trio instrumental band which I have heard a lot about ever since the first heat. They previously performed at Hamra festival and Beirut Music Festival. With bass, drums and violin, I did not expect any Metal but the music had it all, a beautiful blend of jazz, classic and Metal music. There were a lot of violin soloing and tricky drum lines, the only missing thing for an ‘experimental’ band was intriguing bass lines. Although it wasn’t simple, it wasn’t vivid too. The violin had a lot of energy, but the bass guitar lacked it.
When crowd voting was done and judges’ votes were added, DDA, Monarchy and Episode were in for the second challenge. It was the first heat where three bands moved to the second round, and the reason was the crowd’s 10% voting causing Episode’s highest scoring band (by the jury) to move to third place, so Episode was “Veto” voted by judges to keep them for round 2. The judges thought that Episode had something great to present and they wanted to give them another chance to perform again.
This text came from an ‘unknown yet trusted local GBOB authority’: “jury have the right to veto over the audience’s votes to make sure the bands they see best fit do actually get the proper chance and not get thrown out purely based on mathematical numbers as there are other criteria the jury must consider when choosing bands”.
If you think that the audience’s vote doesn’t mean anything then, that is not true. If it weren’t from audience’s votes, Monarchy wouldn’t have had the chance to perform in the second round.
In the end, it was a close call between DDA and Episode and due to the clear knowledge of what is ‘appreciated’ in GBOB, with DDA being a less listener friendly band, Episode were announced winners of Heat #4.