As ever, we’re going to try and cover every single Jäger, New Blood and SOPHIE stage band before Bloodstock kicks off on August 10th. Your chance to check them out and start planning which bands to get there early for!
Trust us when we tell you that this is bound to result in some frustrating clashes because, as ever, there are some great bands on these three stages.
Our thanks to all the bands for taking the time out to answer our questions!
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
We are from Beirut, Lebanon… well most of us… actually only two of us, although the whole band lives in Lebanon. Our current bassist is French, from Grenoble, and our drummer is from Saudi Arabia, yeah, that wretched place! We also have a session Arabic percussionist, who’s from Beirut as well.
How long have you been playing together as a band?
Bassem: I founded the band in 1995, but living in Lebanon and being a metalhead here has been a constant struggle; two major “witch-hunts” in 1997 and 2002, and an ongoing ban on a lot of things metal in Lebanon makes it hard for musicians to keep up. So Blaakyum since its inception had endless lineup changes, including a seven years hiatus. I am the only constant member.
Rabih: I joined the band in summer 2012.
Pierre: After a year in Lebanon, I was looking forward to joining the metal scene there. During a practice break where I was starting drums, I met the Deaibess brothers and they suggested to me to jam with them. That was last year, 2016. This jam turned into a question: if we go on tour, do you want to come with us? And here we are.
Hassan: I joined late 2015 right after the band won third place in the Wacken Metal Battle.
Elie: My first performance with Blaakyum was in Wacken Metal Battle 2015.
Where does the name of the band come from?
That is classified! What we can tell you is that in a way it is the colour Black turned into a metal element, although that should be written as Blackium, there is a bit more to our name than just that.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
We think apart from our musical style, the fact that we come from the bloodiest region on the planet has its effect on our music. The Middle East and especially Lebanon has been a melting pot of many civilisations and their musical cultures, we try as much to incorporate our musical heritage into metal without drifting too far off. We aim for “Heaviosity”. We have been classified as thrash metal, but we really have a lot of Middle Eastern folk, heavy metal and groove metal in our sound.
What’s your live show like? Why are people going to watch you instead of another band?
As we mentioned before, our lives in a turbulent, violent, politically unstable, economically wrecked and culturally terrorised region, makes us who we are, and makes our sound what it is. We believe this can be witnessed on stage. We do not just perform our songs, we are angry at the world and we want the crowd to witness it and get angry with us.
Have you been to Bloodstock before? What did you think?
Leaving the Middle East even for a vacation is a luxury most metalheads in Lebanon cannot afford. So we have been only to the few festivals we played at. We have never been to Bloodstock, but from what we are hearing, we cannot wait to be there, and experience the brotherhood of metal at its best.
Did you enter M2TM thinking you could win it? Which region did you win?
We did not enter M2TM; we are the personal guests of Simon Hall, which is a great honour for us.
What sort of setlist can we expect
An angry one! It will be fast paced and loud. We love crushing riffs that makes you headbang like there is no tomorrow but we have our unique Middle Eastern metal as well, what is it like? Well I guess the crowd can see for themselves.
Which main stage band do you most hope you’re not squished up next to so you can see them play?
We are playing on Sunday, and boy are there bands we would like to watch. Some of them are major influences for us, Megadeth, ArchEnemy, and HELL are bands we hope we do not miss. Rabih our lead guitarist is a big fan of Skindred, myself I am a huge Obituary fan, and I have never seen them live before. Also Possessed… damn, mate, we really hope we do not miss a lot.
What are you working on at the moment?
We are laying the final touches on our new album composition, and should be hitting the studio in January to record it. Here is a premiere that we never disclosed before, the album will be titled Industry Of Death.
Also we have invited the British pioneers of thrash metallers, the one and only Onslaught to perform in Beirut in September. We are working hard on this one as it is extremely rare for international metal acts to perform here.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done on tour?
During our Thrash Mercenaries Europe tour with Onslaught in 2016, our manager at the time was driving and she crashed our camper van into a parked delivery truck! Our frontman Bassem was sleeping in the upper bed where the car hit! He survived, now it’s a funny memory.
Jäger, Hobgoblin Ale, Kraken, Kingstone Press Cider, Kaltenberg Beer or Bulleit Bourbon? And, yes, we’ll be counting all the votes!
- Bassem: Although I am a huge Jäger fan, when it comes to English ale I must say Hobgoblin. I haven’t tasted the rest.
- Rabih: None of the above
- Pierre: I love ale, I’m a fucking Viking.
- Hassan: I do not drink much, and I do not know any of these except Jäger, so I must go with Jäger
- Elie: Jäger