If you were around in the 80s, in constant fear of the siren going off and declaring imminent nuclear armageddon, you’ll know why thrash was the one true soundtrack to that era. Its taut, choppy, hyper-alert riffs resonated with that very physical impulse, that instinct to constantly tense your muscles and brace yourself against the inevitable.
So while heavy metal continues to prove its ability to thrive in the most hostile of environments, It’s no surprise, then, that thrash has taken such hold in the burgeoning Middle Eastern scene. One of the bands at the forefront of this wave are Beirut, Lebanon’s Blaakyum, a band whose movie-worthy 22-year history takes in the aftermath of their country’s civil war, the jailing of frontman Bassem Deaibess, numerous breakthroughs in their homeland, a third place at Wacken’s international Metal Battle finals amongst other international festival appearances, temporary breakups, more war and bombardment and a lifetime of necessary, white-hot defiance.
Having released their debut album, Lord Of The Night, in 2012 against the most daunting of odds, Blaakyum put out its follow-up, Line Of Fear, last year, its mixture of thrash, groove and Levantine folk influences gaining rave reviews around the globe.
Now they’re about to release a video single in the devastating form of Freedom Denied. A song whose sense of urgency is matched only by its scope, it’s set to images of devastated cities, genuine footage of the warfare still ravaging their homeland and the human repercussions - a diorama of horror and desperation that has a visceral and emotional impact you might not fully get from yet another thrash song about zombies and beer kegs. Riven through with Arabic melodies, tablas and lyrics, this is as contemporary and immediate as you can get, so bunker down and prepare for the sonic salvo of Freedom Denied below!
Check out Blaakyum’s Facebook page here
Blaakyum founder and frontman Bassem Deaibess will be giving a talk entitled Art As Defiance In The Middle East at Chatham House on April 5 in London