Al Azif is one of the most popular bands in Egyptian metal scene; their riffs and tracks attract lots of Egyptian metalheads. In addition, their tracks have conquered African Metal charts. Last year, Al Azif put on one of their strongest performances ever in the latest Walls of Death. Few months ago, Nader Sadek announced a new concert called Masters of the Middle East featuring five bands: Inquisition, Perversion, Smouldering in Forgotten, Nader Sadek and Al Azif. The concert faced several problems besides disapproval from the Egyptian bands, the organizers and the fans, as they rejected the presence of a band like Inquisition in Egypt, because of their lyrical themes, which are against the Egyptian nature. Many bands posted announcements to express their anger and objection. Weeks ago, Al Azif band announced that they wouldn’t participate in this concert because of many reasons, which would be revealed soon. Also, Nader Sadek changed the date and the place of the concert without any declaration. In addition, he and the other bands left the concert without any announcement. So instead of five bands on the ticket, just two performed. Today we have an interview with Al Azif to comment on this tragic event.
First of all, I want to mention that Al Azif is one of the most successful bands here in Egypt, and you have participated in many successful concerts here. But first, let’s talk about the band itself. Could you please share with us a short biography about Al Azif?
Al Azif band was formed back in 2009 as a collaboration between Mohammed Sherif, the lead guitarist, and Mohammed Tarek, the former bassist/song writer, followed by some fellow musicians and friends.
We released our first album Claiming the Sand Throne back in 2012 and it was well received. We also took part in various metal events including Walls of Death and Metal Grinders. And we are working on a new album called Singularity.
We released the single track ‘Cull the Meek’ back in 2014 and we are still on the recording and production process for the rest of the album.
What was special about this night for Al Azif?
We had been on hold for almost two years, being finally back on stage again really was one of the highlights of our musical careers.
We loved every moment of it from the sound check to the anticipation before going on stage to the head banging and crowd cheering.
And if you caught up on Mohammed ٍٍSherif‘s speech that night you will definitely know what we are talking about. It’s good to be back.
Which track did the fans interact with the most in Walls of Death?
Our guess would be ‘Cull the Meek’ as most of the fans have already listened to it by now. But they did interact with some other tracks like ‘Berserker’ and ‘Mutilated Assembly’
In the latest concert of Walls of Death, you preformed some tracks from your upcoming album, can you give us some details about it?
All what we can say is that this album is gonna rock.And it’s a huge step for us musically and lyrically. We are really excited to share it with you guys.
We know we are late on the release date, but we had some serious changes into our line-up and a personal accident that happened to Mafia, and our whole album dates were stolen and we had to start from scratch.
Nonetheless, don’t worry, we are working on it and we will be sharing some news about it soon.
What difficulties did you face in this concert?
First of all, we needed more time in the sound check, we think that we and most of the bands that participated in the event really suffered from that.We needed a longer play time in the concert itself as we had to rush through all of the playlist just to finish in time. And it was so hot up there, so imagine doing all of those physical acts in an oven; that is the stage of El-Sawy Culturewheel.
Moving to your tragic experience with Nader Sadek, how did he contact you?
We got contacted by Nader three, four months ago. He showed interest in our music and our performance as a band, so he contacted us to share the stage with him in his next event.
What kind of deal did you have with Nader Sadek and the organizers?
Our deal with Nader was that we share the stage with four other bands including metal veterans like Napalm Death, we were to play 3rd in the line-up. The venue would be changed to somewhere other than El-Sawy Culturewheel,and we would pay an amount of five thousand pounds to support Nader in providing accommodation, and for equipment and venue rentals.
What was your reaction after the Egyptian metal bands and the organizers made a statement against the concert?
We have stated that few times, any decision regarding the bands and the organizing issues is the full responsibility of Nader Sadek. We had no reservation on what band would participate, and what content would they do as long as there are security permissions for the concert to avoid any complications with the authorities.
What was the reason for your absence from the event?
We agreed on such terms, and we gave him a down payment and the rest to be paid later before the event, only to find new developments started to happen each and every day. First, Napalm Death will not show up and will be replaced by another X band, and that band is Inquisition.
After all that drama that happened related to the participation of Inquisition, we had to ask Nader Sadek to show us the security permit for the concert as we wouldn’t be playing without seeing it to avoid any complications that might happen with the authorities. He kept giving us dates to show the permits and none of them were true, until suddenly he decided to change the location of the concert to another unknown location. Then he decided not to let Inquisition participate in the event to avoid the heat that would result from bringing them. Followed by the news that Smouldering in Forgotten and his band won’t show up due to some unfortunate events. Followed by other news of the return of Inquisition again,because technically there were only two bands left which were us and Perversion. Followed by the changing of the date of the concert.
We asked for an explanation for all of that, and we asked to announce this dramatic turn of events to the public and people who were gonna attend the event. His reply was that he would be announcing it later but he never did. Even we were kept in the dark on where the concert was gonna be held and when.
All of that got us worried that something fishy was going on and we kept on discussing to back out, but we held on to the fact that we gave our word, our money, and effort to this and it’s too late to back out now.
We finally got the location two days before the event. And we were ready to go to the sound check Friday afternoon, only to get contacted by Nader again asking us to pay the rest of what we agreed on or not to show up. Without considering any of what happened, like the changes, the bands that wouldn’t show, and the majority of people who didn’t even know what was going on with the concert, even the Security permit that we asked for, he didn’t bring it.
And our reply was that we will not pay any more money and we will not participate in such a mess anymore, not after all of the false promises and all of the shady acts surrounding the whole thing. And not after we tried to contact him Friday morning asking for an explanation of what was going on only to get hung up on by him.
To sum this up,we agreed upon terms that he didn’t commit to, yet he still asked us to hold our part of the deal.
He had no right to treat any of our band members with such vulgar and negative attitude.
And he still owes us what we paid him, and we will not let that go to no avail.
How did you react to the matter of Inquisition band?
We have no problem with any band showing up as we believe in freedom of speech, and it’s the organizer choice to do so, and he takes full responsibility for his actions.
Do you think that this concert will affect the scene negatively? If yes, why did they participate in it?
We think that any event or concert is a positive move, and helps develop and elevate our scene into a better state. Regarding that concert in particular, our only reservation was the secrecy and the fishiness surrounding the whole thing. We are not committing a crime or doing something illegal to keep any event a secret. We help enrich and develop the underground music in Egypt in general, and we should be very open about it.
What do you think about Nader Sadek concerts in general?
Nader had two very successful events at El Sawy Culturewheel, and each of us, band members, attended them. But it was clear that the Egyptian bands who played in both concerts were there to fill the gaps. They didn’t have enough playtime, enough recognition or support. They were just there to open the concert, and Nader is to blame for that along with the audience, as they support the other international bands that share the stage with him, so they should be there in time and support their local bands as much as, or even more than they support the international bands.
I understand that it was a tragic experience with Nader Sadek especially after the media started to revive the matter of Satanists again, would you like to comment on that?
We have no comment on the lies our media is always telling to damage our reputation and our life styles. Going about that again and again would be a waste of time, so the best thing to do is trying to show our society that we are not what the media says about us. We are musicians, and we are the fans of one of the most successful and ambitious music genres on the planet, and we deserve as much recognition and support as any other music in Egypt.
What are your future plans regarding your albums and concerts?
Regarding the album, again we are very excited to share our next album with you guys and we really apologize for being late on it.
We are really honored and happy to share the stage with any band and any organizer, as the sight of metal fan shouting our name in the venue is the best feeling one could ever have in his life.
Interviewed by: Rana Atef
Edited by: Marina Eshak