Last Saturday, 1 March, in one of the studios in Mohandessin, metal band Enraged presented Jeremiad, a five-song EP. In front of a select audience of friends and fans the band performed a few live songs and then the EP was played in its entirety. Expecting to be treated to some heavy headbanging, we were pleasantly surprised by the symphonic sounds and the theatrical songs that were at times reminiscent of a rock opera— with lots of loud drum and bass, of course.
The heavy metal scene in Egypt has always been faced with problems. From arrests in the 90s for wearing Metallica T-shirts to the accusation of being devil worshippers during the reign of the Brotherhood, metal bands have always struggled against the current. After having moved underground and away from mainstream venues for some time, the bands are now slowly appearing again on the scene. Several metal concerts are scheduled in the Sawy Culture Wheel and the Rabawet Theatre and Jeremiad was released; such are the latest signs the metal scene is coming back to life.
Enraged had been talking about and planning to record for many years, but financial constraints and changes in the line-up meant it never really got done. “Society is intolerant of everything that is different but the only thing that stops you is yourself,” said Wael Ossama, guitarist and vocalist, when he explained how Jeremiad came to be.
After years of seeing the metal scene losing more and more performance venues and the limited options of success that were left, Enraged was close to the point of extinction. “But we did not give up; the drummer, Mostafa and I spent three hours in the studio twice a week to get ready to record and this inspired the rest of the band to join us again,” Ossama said.
The resulting EP is an interesting mix of solid metal sounds and symphonic harmonics, with haunting vocals by both Ossama and Rasha Magdy. The EP tells the story of Jeremiad, a visionary who sees the world crumble and as the EP progresses, so does his madness. By the last song we as listeners have moved from observers of Jeremiad’s view of the world to inside his mind, which has disintegrated into madness. The second part of the story, slated to be recorded this year, is an exploration of his insanity.
From the first, instrumental track Kemet, to the last title track, the songs take us listeners on a journey of haunting, and at times eerie, tunes, like on the third track, Hypatia. While the vocals are an intricate part of the harmonies, which are at times nearly dissonant, the mix does not afford us to hear the lyrics very well, which seems a shame of all the effort put into the production.
After the presentation, fans and friends were invited to give their feedback. “Jeremiad is a celebration of Enraged, but also of not giving up and this is a positive step for the metal scene in Egypt,” Adham Kafaty from Anarchy said.
This sentiment was echoed by Ossama: “The EP is not only a celebration of the band, but also of the angry little kid we all were, the one that listened to metal and dreamed of playing music.”
This passion, which kept the band members going in the face of adversity all these years, can be easily discerned on the EP and holds a promise for future releases.