Kuwait has one of the smallest metal scenes in the Middle East, in fact the scene is possibly on par with the likes of Bahrain, maybe Qatar but it's definitely not on the same level as the Yemen, as there appears to be no metal music history there whatsoever.
With a population of around 4.04 million (for comparison London is roughly double this) and a very underground metal scene, how can bands like Depth, Earsplit, Eyeresist, Benevolent *, Voice Of The Soul * and especially Divine Disorder keep themselves out of trouble, keep the Kuwaiti metalheads supporting what can be perceived as the most internationally-recognized music genres and at the same time, survive the insane heat that you would think affects them when playing at live shows..... well come on, who wants to mosh in 46*c?
* formed in Kuwait but moved to Dubai for undisclosed reasons
GMA caught up with clean vocalist / bassist Darkvain to gain an insight into what makes the Kuwaiti Metal scene tick.
Hi Jassem, how is it going and what has Divine Disorder been up to lately?
Right now the heat and climate in Kuwait is at its peak, it's nothing less than 50C. But overall we are fine hehe and about Divine Disorder, having finished the production of the album and having the official CD in our hands, what we are doing right now is preparing promotional packages and contacting the officials back and forth.
We have worked our asses off to meet the end result, and I can’t imagine throwing it out just like that, personally we feel that it deserves better effort and time ;)
Now Divine Disorder hails from Kuwait, please tell us what the metal scene is like and does the Government tolerate metal music? How long has it been going and what issues has it faced?
We as a band weren't around during the start of the whole metal scene In Kuwait; we still weren’t into metal music hehe. I have met a lot of the guys who put a lot into starting it and so on and have been told it was nearly the mid of 90s and even back then it didn’t face much of struggle as it was too small and no one knew about the activities.
As it started to grow, the Government started to see it and labelled the act as "Satanism" and that stayed along with us up until now. At least let's say during the last 5 years metal activities shut down almost completely, we find it as if the metal scene in Kuwait died. And musicians went underground, especially since it has been putting us in serious legal situations and one basically doesn’t want to ruin his daily life routine / activities / jobs with such offensive legal problems.
With Divine Disorder we are taking things differently, we hope that it will open up for us the way we imagine it will. Placing things onto an international level could pull the attention of the foreign media towards us.
What in your opinion are the three biggest issues Middle Eastern Metal bands and fans alike face?
I can’t name three different issues as all of them remain in the same category that we face. Not being accepted the way we are, and not giving us second thought on what is metal and what are the ideas or thoughts we are trying to express.
This leads to a lot of issues, such as not being able to have instrument shops provide us with the kind of equipment we use and prefer, not being able to perform live shows unless pay extra and travel further away just to perform a small show, and this could be a real issue for bands like us as a lot of labels nowadays only look out for those bands that have enough live show history and that’s very hard to achieve with such circumstances.
Now I would assume the only form of media presence for metal music in the Middle East is Jorzine (and of course GMA but ignore us ;).
I could say Jorzine is one of the biggest platforms that has helped a lot of bands out, but there are also some others who try their best to put the spotlight on the underground scenes. Metality.net is one of the finest examples. Hehe I could ignore GMA if that’s what you want hehe but I have to admit the great effort Global Metal Apocalypse are putting and that’s appreciated so much, and they gained our trust so fast. You RHYS takes things way too seriously and I like that of you!
Who has Divine Disorder played alongside (if anyone) since the band's inception? Any renowned bands?
Divine Disorder haven’t stepped on stage yet, there are a lot of plans regarding that area of things that will come after the release of our debut album, if things go as good as we want them to be. However we have a close association with other artists in the metal scene, two members of Divine Disorder, Azurayl and myself have been in a previous project called "Positive Poison" which started around 2003 and in that previous project the band played with almost all of the existing metal bands in Kuwait, almost, to name few: Throne of Thorns, Depth and Terminus.
Could you explain the meaning behind each of the band member’s stage names? Why these in particular?
Hehe oh those stage names, I remember we were reviewed by one of the local bloggers, and they had to state how childish or horrible they sounded hehe, I could agree to some point, but only if he went through the struggles we went through as musicians, only then would they understand hehe, I bet they were fairly new to the whole metal scene In Kuwait and the issues we face on a daily basis.
At some point or another we had to go with stage names to hide our identities and not be associated with those acts they call Satanism (metal). We were into Gothic and Dark Metal and that’s what our previous project Positive Poison mainly was more about.
To add to that I also would like to state that we like to take things in a cinematic / theatrical perspective and that could explains so much. Being known with that stage name all your life, we thought of keeping them the way they are.
Do you feel metal music is becoming more and more appreciated globally? On a local level do you feel it eases social issues?
Some of it. I personally think the Metal scene is changing so much I can’t see it going in a better direction. Things are taken now as 'how fast can you play', 'how brutal and ass-kicking you are', 'how much you screaming and how bad ass they think they are', in fact now it's all about the looks and high budget production with no soul or identity attached to the music.
I can see how the new wave of metal is being mixed with the mainstream more and how the newer generations are accepting metal more but from metal's new outfit / identity.
Did the Arab Spring affect the Kuwait Metal scene and musicians as a whole?
I think it didn’t affect us as much, things are indeed changing but you would still feel the same "uncomfortable" vibe going on.
Does the climate of Kuwait affect musicians when they play, surely it affects the instruments you use?
Hehe we got used to the climate, and we have our ways to deal with it, we would know when it is the right time to have a fresher climate with less heat and less humidity, as at certain times of the year we would have that happen. And to stay safe we usually do our activities indoor where you can control it with air conditioning ;)
But the last time I remember performing live was on 2010. Since then I can’t name or remember one serious metal show that has happened.
Is equipment expensive in Kuwait? Or is it relatively cheap? Where is it usually imported to?
I can’t say it’s cheap or expensive, I think it’s average and affordable. But as mentioned before we don’t have much in the way of instrument shops that provide the top notch brands that metal bands or musicians find interesting. And importing any would cost you at least double how much the instrument costs.
What does Divine Disorder have planned for the rest of the year and beyond?
We will be releasing our debut album in early November and in conjunction with this, we will have a campaign to help the release gain attention and sale, after that we will hopefully have more shows.
Finally are there any greetings (hello's, thank you's) you wish to send out?
All my thank you's would go to Rhys, the guy behind Global Metal Apocalypse for his great effort to draw a better metal world! And all the people who have helped us in pushing ourselves out onto the scene