The last year or so has been by far one of the most interesting and crazy for me as far as music is concerned. I've started composing again although royally suck at it but somethings better than nothing, I guess. Also, I've had the opportunity of delving into genres other than Heavy Metal, Rock n Roll and Blues. However, every time I did go down that road, always ended up listening to over-driven guitars and headbanging music which apparently noobs called noise. Yes, you...YOU are a noob if you call the likes of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Black Sabbath, noise!
Pakistani Rock has evolved over the last decade or so. There were a few very promising bands that broke into the scene in early 2000s; Aaroh and [eP] being one of the most prominent of them. Both outfits were extremely talented and could've gone on to do wonders had they stuck on together; wasn't meant to be, they were just another 'one-album' wonders. For the record, I think Aaroh's second album sucked and without Nabeel Chishty on guitars, it was just not Aaroh. On the other hand, the break-up of [eP] was even more saddening. Around that time another Rock band came into the picture; Call. They were impressive at first, playing some hardcore alternative rock music but was, sadly, short lived. What happened to Call was much more tragic than a break-up; they lost their bollocks and became the Pakistani version of Backstreet Boys.
I could go on and on about a zillion Pakistani bands who would've done so amazing had they continued to make the kind of music they initially intended to, but I won't. Instead, I'm going to talk about a new band that has caused quite a raucous in Pakistan of late, 'Qayaas'.
The one and only reason why Qayaas caught my interest was the beast on vocals; Umair Jaswal. I listened to Umair sing for the first time back in 2006, I think, at Islamabad Club auditorium. He was with a band called Silversmoke at the time and I vividly recall them covering GnR's version of 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' and 'Sweet Child O' Mine'. I, too, was in a band then, 'Aaraiz' and somewhat prided myself as being a pretty decent vocalist within Islamabad's underground music scene at that time. But then there was this beefed up character, full-on attitude with a downright throaty, hoarse made-to-sing-metal voice mimicking Axl's antics and actually bloody well pulling it off. Umair Jaswal had blasted himself onto center stage with a bad-ass attitude found so desperately wanting in Pakistani bands. Needless to say, I was absolutely impressed.
Soon after, Silversmoke released their first single, 'Zakham', and I traveled to Australia to pursue a Masters. They went onto to release another single, 'Soch' and that was it from Umair until 2009. During that time I was too busy with University and was not too keen on listening to songs by new Pakistani bands; they were all pretty darn disappointing and reminiscent of our very own version of Justin Beiber, 'Atif Aslam'. However, I was asked by a friend to listen to two new songs by a band called 'Qayaas'; 'Tanha' and 'Umeed'.
I still remember the chill down my spine when I listened to Umeed! The build-up to the chorus was so beautifully done, blew me away. And then there were Umair's trademark heavy metal screaming backing vocals which he displays right at the end of the song as well. And then there were the guitars with a decent solo - which wasn't overdone which a lot of lead guitarists in Pakistan end up doing - beautiful licks and fillers throughout the song which made the song an instant hit with me. The second song 'Tanha' which was heavier of the two numbers, and lyrically richer as well. The vocals were a lot more raw and the guitars heavier; this song displayed the potential of Qayaas as one of the first Heavy Metal bands coming out of Pakistan after Mizraab, only much more refined, melodic and complete.
Qayaas released their first album, 'Uss Paar' in April 2011. The Heavy Metal inclination I was teased with in 'Tanha' was given a massive steroid-boom right from the word go. The album is metal galore with songs like 'Uss Paar', 'Inquilaab', 'Halaak', 'Shehrezade' and especially the crazily heavy, full of aggression, rage and frustration 'Mera Wana'. I highly recommend everyone to give the album a listen; if you don't like it, please get your sanity verified or even better, kill yourself.
I definitely hope Qayaas is not a 'one-album' wonder and do go onto release a lot more records. Its definitely one of the most complete Heavy Metal outfits to have come out of Pakistan. And the time is nigh for a second album. I wish the band good luck with all their future projects. Umair Jaswal, you're a goddamn beast of a vocalist, and one of the most talented metalheads I've ever known. You solely carry the Heavy Metal torch in Pakistan; don't drop it. Qayaas is destined for bigger and better things; keep at it. Metal forever \m/!
Until next time...
P.S. Ironically, Umair is teaming up with Beiber in the first Coke Studio Season 5 episode...oh shit, I said Beiber?? I honestly meant Justin...oh dammit...I mean...Atif Gayslum. Definitely wish Umair best o' luck, and Atif a sore throat :P.
P.P.S. This post is dedicated to my friend, poco pinzone. Thank you.