You tell people you’re into metal, you get a look that would leave you thinking about what you did wrong and you’re told that it is ‘socially unacceptable’ music. The musical genre, ‘metal’ is not just raucous music played and listened to by illiterate louts with long hair. Metal is a way of life. I still like to think of myself as a 15-year-old kid playing air guitar with my friends, donning a black T-shirt with my favourite band’s logo on it and head banging in the car while my driver looked on in bewilderment.
Unfortunately, metal in Pakistan is not given the attention it deserves by either music critics or the media. Along with the issue of exposure, infighting between bands has plagued this oft-ignored underground scene. But behind the ugliness of the infighting and army of critics is a strong army of bands, some who have been playing since the mid 90s, and some whose band members haven’t even reached the age of 18. Dusk has been playing since 1995 and has successfully released music on international labels along with an international tour. Bands like Autopsy Gothic stuck around and made a lot of original music, which sadly did not see the light of day. However, there is still hope. The scene now stands at a much better point, where bands have started focusing on original music rather than covers, with extreme metal bands such as Cardinal Sin, Berserker and the godfathers of Pakistani metal Dusk representing for Karachi. Lahore has seen the emergence of progressive metal giants Odyssey, while Islamabad/Rawalpindi have a growing metal scene with the likes of I See Insanity, Venom Vault and Depletion. Most of these bands record at home, using average equipment, but manage to record studio quality music. All they need is the right kind of promotion, both in the media and by live promoters, and once they reach the right audience our local scene will be a force to be reckoned with, both nationally and internationally. After all, Norway’s biggest musical export abroad has now become their once miniscule local black metal scene.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 31st, 2010
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