We asked Marc Dyos, our favourite drummer from Phobetor and Pythia, to check out the metal scene in the Kingdom of Bahrain. This small country in the Arabian Gulf is not famous for its heavy and transgressive music, but it has its fair share of heavy metal acolytes. At the heart of the movement is Studio 77, the place where bands go to immortalise their sound.
The press release makes it clear that this is an album with global aims: “The rest of the world might not know a metal scene exists in Bahrain, or even where the tiny island is on the map, but this compilation aims to show the rest of the planet that there’s a thriving metal scene in Bahrain and plenty of killer bands putting out original music.”
Marc delved deeper into the music and liked what he found…
When Scream Blast Repeat handed me this compilation album to review, I didn’t know what to expect. ‘Metal’ and ‘Bahrain’ were not words that I’d associate with other. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, it’s just in the same way I don’t associate Alpine yodelling with Croydon. Music is a universal language, though, and metal is no exception.
My ignorance along with any preconception soon disappeared in a tornado of blackened speed metal at the sound of ‘Extermination Now’ by Hellionight. They’re one of four bands featured on this compilation, alongside Ryth, Necrosin and Lunacyst, with each group contributing multiple tracks.
Hellionight have one metal-studded boot fixed in the 1980s, with frenzied riffing and fast drums at the core of their sound, accompanied by guttural growls and the occasional Tom Araya scream. Songs such as ‘Souls of Evil’ are catchy and straight forward arrangements, and it’s easy to picture a crowd head banging and singing along with these chorus lines. Whilst derivative, it’s also high octane and enjoyable.
Lunacyst are a combination of old school death metal, progressive and extreme groove, and they merge numerous influences into their compositions with great success. ‘Plague of Tyranny’ moves between classic Morbid Angel, Gothenburg riffing and slow staccato rhythms in odd time signatures, and even leaves space for a crushing Pantera-esque swing groove. Their compositions are fast changing but well-structured and memorable.
Up next are Ryth, offering blackened death metal with some melodic parts and, at times, progressive elements. ‘Self-Destruct’ starts with clean guitars building to a head-banging death metal groove with rolling double kicks, while ‘Auto Autonomous’ switches between blast-beat laden Gothenburg riffing and clean sections with soaring leads. Ryth sound equally at home with either style.
Necrosin are an old school death metal affair, with more than a nod to forefathers, Bolt Thrower. Their weighty riffs are tight and precise with constant double-kick grooves propping them up. Tracks such as ‘Under a Violent Moon’ and ‘Bow to Me’ will appeal to those who enjoy a steady diet of Bloodbath and Morbid Angel. Necrosin are not trying to reinvent the wheel, they just want to write strong compositions reminiscent of the bands they love, and they succeed in doing just that.
This flagship of Bahrain metal music features four bands that deserve wider recognition, and Studio 77 are certainly justified in showcasing these talents. Whilst none of these bands are offering anything original – and very few bands are these days – if you produce well-crafted and memorable songs and enjoy (and believe) in what you’re doing, then, that’s really all that matters, wherever you are in the world.
Metal! Live in Bahrain Vol. 2 is a great eye-opener into a metal scene largely unknown outside of its native land, with each of the artists featured here doing more than enough to leave you wanting more of their music.
Release Date: 16/05/2021
Record Label: Studio 77
Standout tracks: Hellionight ‘Extermination Now’; Lunacyst ‘Plagues of Tyranny’; Ryth ‘Auto Autonomous’; Necrosin ‘Bow to Me’