In times when record labels are acting as the biggest hindrance in the progress of music, the availability of a fresh Pakistani rock album comes as a welcome change. Qayaas is an Islamabad-based Pakistani rock band which recently released its first album Uss Paar under the banner of BIY (Believe in Yourself) records and has developed a cult following in a short time.
The band has Umair Jaswal on lead vocals, while Khurram Waqar plays the guitars, does the arrangement and audio production. Sarmad Abdul Ghafoor also plays the guitars and audio production, whereas Shaheryar Ghayas plays the bass guitar and Salman Rafique plays the drums and percussions.
The album kicks off with an upbeat, instrument-heavy song called “Uss Paar”. After a few seconds of heavy rock music, you start tapping your feet to the catchy groove of the song. Next is “Inquilab”, which is also on the original sound track for Bilal Lashari’s upcoming film Waar. This song is a great example of how a proper rock vocalist can completely change the song when accompanied by catchy grooves on the bass guitar. It is a treat for hardcore rock music fans. “Halaak”, like many other songs in the album is a song of retaliation and the thought-provoking lyrics make it complete. Even though the guitar solo in “Halaak” is the cherry on top of the cake, the repetition of a guitar solo in more or less every song makes them all sound really similar at times.
“Sheherzade”, the next track, shows the group’s maturity as a band that meshes their individual talents and takes the listener on a ride. However, by the middle of the album, the vocal renditions start sounding very similar and are slightly exasperating, as the singer tends to overdo his vocals and brings the overall quality of the song down.
Next, the listener is treated to slow and mellow rock ballads such as “Pal”, which is also on the soundtrack of Waar. “Umeed” is a beautiful piece of song writing, while “Charkha” is a tragic Punjabi song.
“Ishq” is a Sufi number that sounds a lot like Aaroh’s “Jaaney Kyun” and is one of the weakest links of the album. Rock bands in Pakistan should stop forcing half-hearted Sufi tracks in their albums, and this is exactly what happened with “Ishq”. The song has a catchy melody but is nothing compared to some of their other songs. Sounding very much like Vital Signs, “Teray Liye” could be their ticket to the commercial music market, whereas “Monsoon” has nothing special to offer, other than the sound effects of rain in the beginning and the bad vocals. “Pukaar” is filled with keyboard notes well worth a listen and is a well-arranged song. The lyrics, however, left a lot to be desired.
The album ends with “Mera Wana”, which is also on the soundtrack of Peochaar, and takes you on an interesting journey. Beginning with the sounds of bullets and bombs, it is followed by some heavy-duty guitars and phenomenal work on the drums. “Mera Wana” is one of the more complicated songs on the album, as far as the instrumentals are concerned. The song is an expression of the common man’s plea in these times. The band actually manages to make a social statement, unlike so many other rock bands in Pakistan.
All praises aside, despite having a good rock vocalist and great musicians, the band’s songs can be irritating at times. The presence of guitar solos in more or less all the songs and the extra effort put in by their vocalist to attempt long alaaps becomes annoying. Moreover, they seem to be inspired a lot by Noori, especially as far as their ballads are concerned. However, the album is much better than what is currently present in the market and with seasoned musicians attached with the band, they don’t seem to be just one-hit wonders. All in all, Qayaas is a band made up of mature musicians who are talented and who, above all, know the importance of quality music production.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2011.
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