Design speak: The CD cover has a rough metallic look Image Credit: Supplied

Here's some special music for your ears — and that too in a single disk. Metal Asylum, the UAE's longest running rock and metal platform, is all set to promote local talented bands in a unique way.

The organiser of the premiere underground event will release a compilation CD featuring 13 exclusive rock and metal bands in the UAE. From hardcore death metal to old-school rock and roll, the CD will showcase all that the underground rock and metal scene has to offer. A first of its kind in the UAE, the CD will be up for grabs from October 6 onwards.

Rodi Hennawi, organiser of the weekly Metal Asylum event, running since 2008, said he had always wanted to promote lesser heard yet gifted local bands and, after hearing some of their great music, he decided to record this CD. The recording proves that there are many extremely talented bands in the UAE who need a chance to be heard, Hennawi said.

"It's a shame that all these bands are buried here… where you hardly get a chance to do anything. No one wants to manage these bands or pay them or buy them equipment. I have 13 bands on the CD. Initially, it was nine bands, but a few more sent their demos and they were really good. I've now stopped listening to more demos as I know that I shall keep on finding more and more good stuff."

Hennawi said he plans to promote this CD not just in the UAE but globally as well.

Global reach

"When you get a compilation CD on unsigned bands with magazines like Metal Hammer or Terroriser for free, you realise that there are so many better bands in the UAE. These musicians just need a chance to be heard. I may send a few copies to radio stations in the UK and the US and to magazines like Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Terroriser. Maybe then one of these bands will have a chance to have a track on these free CDs or a little review in a magazine."

The bands themselves are very excited about the prospect of being part of the compilation.

United support

Andy McNab, vocalist for punk-rock band IED, said: "Being featured in this CD along with a dozen other popular local acts will open IED's music to new listeners who may have never heard us before."

Mahmoud Gecekusu, guitarist and vocalist from death metal band Perversion, said: "It's a good way to promote our music to a different audience and not just dedicated death metal fans. I personally love checking out compilation CDs. They don't focus on one thing… in fact they've a mix of just about everything. People learn not to limit themselves musically by listening to such kinds of CDs."

Dubai rock veterans Universal Rogue said the compilation is a great move for both the band and the local music scene.

"The compilation is a great idea to collectively promote bands in this part of the world, where most bands face taboos due to government regulations, cultural restrictions etc. Access to the music industry is either limited or simply doesn't happen. This underground compilation might be the first of many to come and pave the way for a probable professional industry," a member of the band said.

The bands are united in their support for this initiative. In fact, the general consensus is that the Metal Asylum compilation will help unite a fairly disjointed underground music scene and promote local rock and metal music talents among the masses.

Aggressive look

Fadi Al Shami who designed the album cover for Metal Asylum, said: "A grunge type theme has been used with rough edges alongside a vague skull image to give the cover an aggressive metal look. The dark olive green colour mixed with black is a bit of a change from the normal black or black and red combination that you usually see. "This gives you something more attractive and is definitely different from the audience perspective."

The song that Al Shami is most eager to hear from the compilation is The Crow Murder track titled Doubt.

Mixing master

Chris Ryan, sound engineer and owner of Cesspool Studios, who is responsible for mixing the CD, said he is making sure that the tracks are glued together "so that none of the recordings sound too out of place in terms of volume and spectral balance". All said and done, he added that a band's individuality will be retained.

Bands on their chosen tracks

The Crow Murder

Jamie Hendry, vocalist: We booked In the Mix [recording studios] to record two of our songs. It turned out that Doubt was the one we finished first, so we didn't choose it, Doubt chose us. Most of our songs are a little heavier than this, we hope this one may strike a chord with a wider audience.


Zara Quiroga, vocalist: Crash is a song that defines our sound and music. It's also a favourite among our band and listeners. It's a song that fuses ska or reggae during the chorus and a heavy rock riff in the chorus.

Coat of Arms

Mohammad Bailouni, lead vocalist and guitarist: We decided to go with Ballad of the Mariner as we have a new album coming out soon, which we feel is a better representation of what the band sound like. We're going to be playing a lot of the new material when we start touring in September, so we wanted to have all the fans and non-fans hear us. Why not give the compilation CD added value by putting a song that isn't available anywhere else? Plus, we think it's a hellraiser too!.