And off we went to Nova pub Sin El Fil for this series of late 2010 rock/metal events, from the Freak Show’s “If Rudolph Could Growl” to Negative’s show on Wednesday and Jay Wud’s event on Friday the 30th of 2010. I think speak for the majority when I say that although Nova pub has always supported all kinds of music events and metal in particular (well aside from those weeks where an ongoing anti-moshpit policy put the events on hold at the pub), we had quite enough of it. The reason behind this may just be the decision taken by the experienced and well-known local bands to support the idea of having a couple of big local events per year and ignore the ‘small scale’ events that usually launch new bands in the scene, with the kind support from the more experienced bands. Another main reason is the sound: I wish I can tell you that I don’t care about the sound as long as it’s loud and noisy (the general misconception of metal), but I would be lying straight to your face. For the 5th consecutive event at Nova, I have witnessed noisy sound, crappy distortion and bands who absolutely have no idea of what sort of sound they are playing to the crowd. It’s really damaging to be standing anywhere near that stage with that kind of loud sound system, it’ll literally cause ear damage (not to mention the repeated feedback from guitars throughout the show). You can confirm that when most of the audience sits way far out, at the bar and at the left/right corners of the place, and the majority of those who got excited at the beginning of the show simply draw out with time, to leave the later bands of the show with only a few devoted fans to actually interact with.

Speaking of devoted, Hamra metal fans suddenly gathered upfront to support Oblivion, one of the few local bands who live up to the the ‘old school heavy metal’ reputation. Their show was good, with some Judas Priest songs and originals from their EP “Dollared Lady”. I have always stated that they’re a good band, but I’ve never experienced anything new from their performances. I’m not against heavy metal, but I do admire anyone who took the genre and added something of their own to it, whether it’s folk (similar to Rhapsody of Fire) or symphonic (similar to Divine Fire) so I hope Oblivion will surprise us throughout the next few years with something that they can call their own, if they wish it.

Level7 were up next, with a new member and a headliners’ confidence. Unfortunately, they struggled with the sound and looked not at ease while playing, well that’s until they rolled up the breakdowns, and those were plenty. As usual, the issue of breakdowns is called upon in events with bands adopting the ‘new school’ slogan. I won’t dwell in that matter now, but I can’t say that they appeal to me personally. I don’t mind headbangable parts in metal songs but I don’t rate songs according to headbangable parts, since it’s generally ‘cheap’ to stop a progression in a song and insert some breakdown to get some energy into the performance, and it gets cheaper when implemented several times (sometimes within one single song!). I did manage to buy myself a copy of Level7’s EP that was being sold and I’m looking forward to giving it a listen.

Half way through the night, Blynd got up on stage to face a somehow empty ‘pit’ which quickly filled up as soon as they kicked off their first song. What’s obvious was the energy and musicianship which this band possesses as they fired everyone up again for their entire performance. Their setlist included several songs from their recent release “The Enemy” which was also being sold at the event, alongwith Lamb of God’s “Laid to Rest” and Machine Head’s “Imperium”. Everyone noticed the drummer’s technical work as well as the lead guitarist’s energetic riffs and melodic work. The band showed that you can adopt a ‘new school’ style without always referring back to cliche breakdowns and vocal patterns. Good luck for this band!

Relics of Martyrs (Jordan) went on stage at about 12:00 AM with a crowd of less than 50% the initial attendance. More technical issues emerged at this point in the event, more noise and less interest by the crowd, although Relics of Martyrs are technically a good band which plays thrash/death metal. It’s understandable that after 2 hours of noisy loud distortion, everyone had no energy left to properly show this band the kind of support a Lebanese band would get in Jordan. Given another location and an early spot in the event, we might have seen a good ol’ moshpit to such kind of music. However, I got to say that I wish every death metal band would incorporate strong melody in their songs: Relics of Martyrs lacked those catchy choruses that Chuck Schuldiner would have liked, with the lasting melody and roaring vocals. Their song structures were basically the same, with a repeated Slayer like solo from their lead guitarist, who in fact milked the whole ‘harmonics / tremolo’ action that’s heavily used in most Kerry King / Jeff Hanneman solos, and cared less to come up with anything that we could perhaps remember after the show ended.

This is my second time watching Ataxia perform, and quoting my last review of their performance “Still, as we all know it, groove metal isn’t about technicality, with little musicianship required, and with that noise dominating the sound (mainly from distortion pedals), they sounded a bit repetitive to my ears.”, I’ll stick to my opinion of the band, especially when they were basically goofing off on-stage for a long period due to ‘technical difficulties’ before they got their stuff back together and kicked off their show with, in my opinion, a bad cover of Sepultura’s Territory! Another song they were playing (seemed like a Soulfly song) had a ska part in it and that sounded horrible to everyone 😛 And finally before the band could continue their performance, someone had to reclaim their guitar from the band’s guitarist: pure professionalism!

I wouldn’t call this event disappointing but there are few issues here and there. I hope that by discussing the issues, we can make things better around here. In the end, it’s up for the bands to show us their best, and I’m not sure that they are doing that at the moment, they are settling for the easy way out, and that’s simply not working for everyone, whether they are willing to admit it or not.