The “Metal-ometer” articles will be sort of an online guide for Metalheads to refer to when visiting a certain location in a country (hopefully we’ll be mentioning some international locations as well).
It’s trivial that I begin this series with my own hometown of Jbeil, Lebanon (جبيل) (also named Byblos), a relatively small city located on the coastline midway between the capital Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli (view Google Map).
Arguably one of the oldest cities in the world, Byblos is one of the main tourist attractions in Lebanon. Let’s start our Metal-ometer:
– kicking off with a cultural side, the Crusade castle (view Google Map). There are two ways you can wander about in this place: you can either walk around, see the ruins, the small Roman Amphitheater, the Egyptian columns and whatnot, OR you can put on your adventure face on and really explore this amazing ancient site: first off, one cool thing is the remaining bombs stuck in the walls of the castle, you can really visualize a battle that happened here when ships came on the coastline and bombed the walls of the castle. Go inside the castle and search for little holes carved inside the walls for scouts and archers. This is not different from lots of Metal themes that talk about ancient civilizations, wars and especially the Crusaders themselves. For example, below is the album cover of Saxon’s “Crusader” album.
The second and most important Metalhead cultural adventure at the Crusade castle is visiting the site of King Ahiram‘s sarcophagus. Now few people actually do this, but Metalheads should definitely go down the burial shaft (recalling H.P Lovecraft’s The Statement of Randolph Carter); it’s dark, moist, coming straight out of a horror tale, it’s the burial ground of the royal necropolis.
– I’ve been told by several Gothic Metal fans that they absolutely love the Gothic feel of the ancient streets of the city, those few unlit pathways, shortcuts and stairs next to the Old Souk (view Google Map). During winter, these locations are so quiet it’s scary (great locations to listen to Metal music while not disturbing anyone).
– When it comes to the actual Rock / Metal events, there are a couple of main festivals that happen during the Summer, the Byblos International Festival (view Google Map) that has become one of the most anticipated local festivals when it comes to hosting International Rock / Metal bands, and the smaller-budget Fete De La Musique festival which usually features local Lebanese bands only. Aside from those, you can either find several “small” Rock events around the city, whether at pubs like Goodar, Bi Ma 2enno and Barbacane (usually Soft / Alternative Rock bands) or at local schools like S.S.C.C and Freres Maristes (rising Rock bands, Rock/Blues jam bands), or look for any Rock events at beach resorts like Bay 183 and Edde Sands (usually scarce).
– As drinking is important to Metalheads, Jbeil is crowded with outdoor bars, pubs and shops that serve alcohol. However, the music played at these places is usually dance music, techno, house, etc, so you might want to stay away from them (especially the Old Souk street) if you’re allergic to such music. Luckily, a Rock pub called “Rock Stock and Two Smoking Buds” recently opened in Jbeil (view Google Map), and is considered by many as the only Rock/Metal approved pub in the city. Go there if you’re looking to drink while listening to Iron Maiden, Pantera, Rammstein, etc in a place decorated by Rock / Metal posters everywhere.
– Tattoos anyone? There’s a “Metal-friendly” tattoo place in Jbeil called “The Art Of Ink” which has a good Metal tattoos catalog (view Google Map).
– When it comes to Rock/Metal related shops in Jbeil, there are no shops other than “Moonphase” that sell Metal t-shirts / accessories (view Google Map). However, there are no shops that sell the latest international Metal releases in the area (check this if you’re looking for local bands merchandise).
Jbeil might not be the most “Metal”-friendly city in the world, but as the locals begin to understand that Rock / Metal is an international community backed up by thousands of musicians, fans and media, Jbeil is witnessing a Rock revival like no other Lebanese city.