By Brad Sanders November 11, 2021
In the 80s it seemed like every metal band had to have a song about ancient Egypt. Iron Maiden had “Powerslave”. Dio wrote “Egypt (the chains are on)”. Merciful fate wrote “Curse of the Pharaohs” and Metallica had “Creeping Death”. Pyramids and sphinxes made their way onto album covers and arena scenes. Mummies have appeared on merch. In the mid-90s, South Carolina death metal band Nile built their entire identity around Egypt. It is unlikely that any of these groups will ever have summer to the country they sang, but they helped define its iconography for the Western world, in the same way Boris Karloff did when he donned the gauze of The Mummy (1932). Much like the European and American archaeologists who had decamped there a century earlier, these gangs plundered the riches of Egypt as they saw fit, generally to the exclusion of the local population. There wasn’t much of a local Egyptian metal scene yet, but something would soon start to stir in the Nile Valley.
Croissant were one of the first metal groups to emerge from the Egyptian sands. Founded in Cairo at the end of the 90s, the black / death group would soon become the first metal group in the region to play the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. Their first music didn’t explore Egypt as a lyrical theme, but by the time they released the 2014 debut album The slaves of the pyramids, they had changed direction. Since then, every Crescent album has dealt with the mythology, history and culture of their ancestors.
âWe had a debut in 2006 that never saw the light of day, as I decided to change the style of Crescent to something that I can relate to more, that’s what Crescent has become today. ‘hui,’ singer and guitarist Ismaeel Attallah said via email. “The theme of ancient Egypt is of much richer scope for us, especially as it touches all aspects of life, politics, religion and mysticism to which we felt quite connected. . “
âIt’s a question of identity and what we can relate to. It’s not really about carrying a flag or filling a gap in the world of extreme metal, âadds guitarist Youssef Salah. “However, it makes us happy to know that many see us as a representation of Egyptian history or culture when it comes to extreme metal.”
A solid scene of Egyptian black metal bands has followed in Crescent’s wake in recent years. (Crescent is careful to note that they don’t consider themselves to be a black metal band, due to the genre’s association with Satanism.) Read on for a guide to artists who are scavenging imagery from Egypt. old and bring it to life with tremolo picking and Beats breath.
The godfathers of the Egyptian scene have been polishing their muscular and blackened death metal for over two decades now. It never sounded better than on their third LP, Sculpt the fires of Akhet, which came out earlier this year. Crescent leans on its epic side to songs like the eight-minute opening track “The Fires of Akhet”, but they make sure that even the densest of their multi-part compositions feel propulsive by infusing them with a sense of heavy groove and brutality Ã la Behemoth. . The songs all explore ancient Egyptian themes, a lyrical well that Salah says the group has not yet exhausted: “We’re sure we still have a lot to learn and explore, but we’ll see how far this theme takes us.” . After all, everything comes to an end.
Odious was one of Crescent’s early contemporaries, formed in nearby Alexandria in 1998. Frontman Bassem Fakhri has incorporated ancient Egyptian and ancient Middle Eastern folk instrumentation into the band’s melodic black metal from the start, a influence which is only accentuated over the years. The proggy, symphonic Skin age lets his traditional acoustic sounds jostle with the guitars at the front of the mix, resolving into something like a black metal version of Orphaned Land.
Lycopolis comes from the small university town of Assiut, far from the relatively cosmopolitan hubs of Alexandria and Cairo. Their sound is also off the beaten track. They play rich guitar melodies and throbbing post-punk basses through a filter of raw black metal, often resembling as much sidekicks from Joy Division as they are contemporaries from Murmuur lamp. Like many bands that populate the current wave of raw black metal, Lycopolis is prolific, with two EPs, a long and a live album to their name in 2021 alone. The ancient Egypt they evoke on these releases is a harsher and more punishing place than one found in a lot of popular culture on the subject. It also feels like a more real one.
The black metal Ethereal Credence plays on The dawn of the arrival age, their scorching debut in 2020, is as melodically complex as anything coming out of Egypt right now. Although their sound is rooted in the Norwegian Second Wave, they don’t seem limited by it, balancing their awe-inspiring explosion with dark folk passages, clear vocals, and dizzying neoclassical guitar tracks. Vocalist Sammy Sayed and drummer Amir El-Saidi are also members of the pillars of death metal in Cairo. Beetle, which makes them perhaps the most visible ambassadors of extreme metal in Egypt.
Like Crescent and Odious, Osiris belongs to the inaugural class of Egyptian black metal. Their first demo was released in 1997, and already they were lyrically obsessed with the ancient civilizations of their homeland. It wasn’t until the start of this year that project manager Ali Zeid Shinshi finally released a first feature film, but winds a soul was worth the wait. A maximalist symphonic sound emerges from the album, and the piano, strings and synthesized woodwinds help Shinshi deliver a vivid vision of the time of the pharaohs.
Hecate du Caire also embraces the symphonic side of extreme metal, even going so far as to release two versions of their second album, In Nomine Artem Blackium–a standard version and an orchestral version. (The standard version is very orchestral in its own right, and it feels like the definitive listening experience.) Stabbed violin and martial horns exchange blows with smothering drums and riffs to songs like “King ov the Underworld” and “Surrealistic Resurrection”, producing a sound somewhere in between Monster and late period emperor.