people living in Egypt's capital. Although many people think of politics, tourism or the economy when it comes to the revolution, many don't often think about the impact it has had on lesser known projects that aren't often associated with Egypt.
In July 2011, the Nile Country Club in Helwan hosted the first hard rock and metal festival in Cairo for nearly ten years that introduced the raw power of a live performance that no studio recording could come close to capturing. Promoting such an event wasn't easy, especially for a genre that has sadly been labeled as underground, but the turnout for the 8-hour festival showed how much this music means to the people of this passionate country.
The long anticipated concert got off to a rocky start. After a frustrating hour of stopping and starting due to sound problems, 'Enraged' eventually opened with Ma'at, followed by N.D.P and Hypatia which went down well with the patient fans. Lead vocalist Rasha Magdy gave a memorable performance with her passionate singing and great stage presence. Inspired by artists like Lacuna Coil & Evanescence, the 6 person band had some great guitar riffs to which you just couldn't stand still. Unfortunately, Enraged had to stop in the middle of their last song 'A Theory of Evil' due to the sound system causing more problems.
On Thronez followed, though it was suprising to find Mostafa Troll replacing the original vocalist. Their covers of Metallica and Megedeth started the first mosh pit of the day and with a set list like Master of puppets, Hangar 18, The Four Horsemen and Hall of the Mountain King it wasn't any surprise. Despite the occasional flat note, it was a powerful performance from a very tight band. Their set finished with guest singer Mohammed Emam, who chose Iron Maiden’s classic 'Fear of the Dark,' a very challenging song for any singer, but after a tentative start, Emam soon loosened up and gave an impressive performance.
Anarchy went on stage after that, taking the festival to a new level with their originals The Battle Within, The Dragon and The King, and Sound of Silence. The first two songs had a mix of good riffs and a solid bass. This review wouldn't be complete however, without mentioning the lead vocalist Adham, who seemed to feed off the energy of the crowd, as during an incredible solo from their final track The Headbanger, he jumped into the mosh pit and captured the true essence of his music; passion. Speaking with him after his set, he seemed humbled by the turnout and support from a devoted hard rock/metal crowd. "These are the real people,” he said, “They are the reason why we perform. They search all over Cairo for this underground music. This is why we perform, for days like these."
5 words, 'Time to play the game.' For any Motorhead fan little more needs to be said. 'Tide Of Septum' opened with the perfect opening track for any metal band that wants to be remembered. Nobody can copy Motorhead's lead vocalist Lemmy, but if they can make the song their own and make a memorable performance out of it, then there's nothing better. Covers from Avenge Sevenfold, Pantera, Megadeath and even Slipknots 'Before I forget' followed, which tested the entire bands musical abilities and they didn't disappoint. The momentum from previous performances kept everyone on their feet. Although the day had ended, the night had just begun.
After a 30-minute interval to set up the lighting and smoke props, the moment many people had been waiting for finally arrived. Any die hard follower of Egypt's hard rock scene will know the name Hisham Zaky, but for those who are new to the scene, this is a man you do not want to miss in a live performance. Singing for over 20 years, Zaky brings new life and interest to the classic hard rock and metal music that paved the way for this generation. With his electrifying band Egypticus, Zaky lead the way in his memorable covers of Judas Priest, manowar and Dio, challenging the lead guitarist Amr Magdy who was simply amazing. Through strobe lighting and clouds of smoke, the people were screaming Ram it down and Hail and Kill with Hisham Zaky as his performance was exactly what they wanted; an energetic performance from a band that defines 'rock and roll.'
Almost 6 hours into the festival, it was clear who had been there from the start and who had just arrived, as many metal enthusiasts lay exhausted on the ground whilst metal giants Legion took to the stage and led the way for many of the newcomers. Throughout the day, the festival had progressed from hard rock to thrash metal. With more enthusiastic fans swarming together, it was inevitable that the atmosphere had changed into something more gothic and aggressive than the bands before them. Stage dives were now frequent…and pretty painful for the person doing jumping. It was clear that Egypt hadn't hosted many concerts like this before, otherwise they would have known that a decent stage dive can only be done from an elevated stage, but it wouldn't be a real metal fest without a few entertaining injuries.
[Nectar] The 6 man band had a tough act to follow, but with their nonchalant and confident presence as they performed their sound check, it gave the impression that they were up to the challenge. More technical difficulties with the sound, one thing that was surprising, was the sound check between the lead guitarist and keyboard player, seemed as though this sort of thing should have been prepared before they came on to keep the fluent momentum of the night. It was a good performance. It seemed that the lead vocalist struggled to preserve the momentum for the first couple of tracks, but after the white robes were taken off (no, that's not a euphemism, he was wearing a white robe) he started nailing his challenging notes. The smoke machine helped hide the lyrics that were taped to the floor, but for raw intensity, Mahmoud Asad brought the fury which was epic.
[Medic] A progressive metal group, showing elements of Dream Theatre and Pink Floyd, Ahmed Khali was truly inspired pulling out some of the best guitar solos of the night. It was definitely a good way to pick up from Nectar, the head-bangers truly were gathered in force; playing their songs of a blessed memory, wandering in wasteland, the downfall and road to oblivion, and their most inspired song with an oriental twist 'ramlaa' (sand.) Speaking with the fans, they were really impressed by such a band with an original and flared style. Have to give respect to Ehab Khaled Fawzi who worked the lead vocals, Guitar and Keyboard, he's a very talented musician.
Mephistopheles - Have you heard of Parkway Drive, August Burns Red or Emmure? How about Lamb of God? Well if not and you're interested in seeing 'Deathcore' music (sort of a cross over from thrash metal) then this is the band you want to see. Their best song had to be a bloody sign. They don't claim to be influenced by Killswitch Engaged, but you could definitely see an element of them in their amazing riffs, intricate time signatures and memorable stage presence which the crowd really got off on.
[Mythos] - They travelled hours from Alexandria just to make it to this event which really you have to respect. With a lead vocalist's nickname 'Psycho' you knew this was going to be good. Like Mephistopheles, they are inspired predominantly by Lamb of God. Mythos ended the night with their unusual titled genre of metal core/groove metal. At the end of the day, it's a genre which is new to both Egypt and the world and if you're the last act at the end of a memorable festival, it's going to give them much needed publicity.