Jay Wud have stared down adversity to be a voice for metal in the Middle East

Jay Wud: not letting geography get in the way of their ambition
Jay Wud: not letting geography get in the way of their ambition

It’s so easy to lose sight of how much we take metal for granted. Despite the struggles we face as a community, at least the overshadowing fear of being arrested (or worse) for being who we are doesn’t play into our daily lives. For others across the world, simply playing or even listening to metal could cost you your life.

Through the face of adversity, Dubai-based pioneers Jay Wud are blossoming in the desert sun. Lebanese by birth, frontman/guitarist and band namesake Jay Wud and guitarist Bojan Preradovic have fought for their right to play the music they love in one of the strictest cultural vice grips on the planet – and a nation whose scene we did a special exposé on in issue 297.

“Coming from Lebanon, it was pretty tough growing up as a rock fan,” explains Wud. “This region isn’t really famous for metal as you can imagine, it’s still very much in its infancy but is slowly developing. It’s been really challenging for us, but we are kind of at the forefront and I guess we’re trying to showcase to the world that we’re here.”

“You have to keep in mind when we were growing up in Lebanon, after Kurt Cobain took his own life they banned all that music,” guitarist Bojan remembers. “The news would say this stupid shit like, ‘There was this rock festival and these guys are worshiping Satan and they’re headbanging and we don’t get it!’” he laughs. “Though it’s not as bad as Iran, some people still got into serious trouble for playing this music.”

Fortunately, the United Arab Emirates is a little more open to rock and metal these days. Having hosted the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe and Metallica, which Jay and Bojan have both supported, the tide could be slowly turning in the region.

“Compared to how it was 10 years ago, the scene is unparalleled,” Jay exclaims excitedly. “Now there are more bands coming through who have a lot more support. There’s no institutional backing yet, but I think with the work we’re doing that will soon change.”

After three years of gruelling production constantly travelling to and from Los Angeles, their souped-up new album, Transitions, is a cranial-crushing riff-athon of pure melodic splendour. Delicious. With acclaimed producer Howard Benson on their side, this could be the biggest sound the Middle East has ever produced.

“Howard was the perfect fit for us,” explains Jay. “He was very interested in our stuff and he was like, ‘Whoa! When I tell people that you guys are from the Middle East, they don’t believe that this sound could come from there.’ He was a huge influence on us and was pushing us to go heavier and heavier. We wanted to show how much we’ve progressed since we first started recording and I think we’ve done that on this album, which we’re super-proud of. Hence the name ‘Transitions’, ha ha ha!”

Sounds like: Melodic beefy riffs that leave the brain feeling a bit wobbly

For fans of: Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Tremonti

Listen to: Shine Your Light

Transitions is out now

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Enter the war-torn world of Lebanese groove/thrash standard bearers Blaakyum

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