Metal Messiahs

April 13, 2014

Metal Messiahs

Pakistani music has been mostly dominated by pop artists; though in time, the road paved way for other forms of experimentation. Junoon introduced the world to Sufi rock and were handed laurels for that. Adil Omar became Pakistan’s first ever rapper to collaborate with renowned musicians from the U.S. Entity Paradigm dived into heavy metal and received critical acclaim. As of late, a Pakistani band, consisting of three vibrant young guys, decided to try their luck at a musical genre that has never been the popular choice in this part of the world. By releasing Pakistan’s first ever thrash metal album, the self-titled Tabahi, the band has a long way to go. We caught up with the band’s drummer, Daniyal Bukhsh Soomro and sought out the band’s goals, objectives and the response they received.

 Instep: Tell us about yourselves. How did you and your band mates come together to form Tabahi?

Daniyal: Tabahi was first formed in 2008 with myself on vocals and bass guitars, Faiq Ahmed on lead guitars and Hyder Ali on drums. I went to Faiq’s house back in 2011, and asked him to learn guitars. As he got the hang of it, he re-ignited that missing spark in Tabahi. We knew Hyder back from the golden era of the underground metal scene but we never really hung out together. When we finally jammed, we finally got to producing the amazing music we’d been waiting for!

Instep: Is the name Tabahi a metaphor for your musical ambitions?

Daniyal: Tabahi, as you know, means ‘destruction’ in Urdu word and that’s what you see everywhere in Pakistan, be it the business industry or the political environment. Our intentions are not to support all of this Tabahi or anarchy. Our songs are written to spread a positive message to all parts of the world with the objective of eliminating the negative perceptions that people have for our country.  


Instep: How crucial a role has social media played in providing a platform for you to launch your music?

Daniyal: Social media has played a pivotal role for Tabahi. Facebook is the best source for every band to connect with their fans and so did we. Back in the old times, we specifically had to call everyone up, making sure that they’re all going to attend or else it would have been a disaster and now you just have to create an event page on Facebook, inviting thousands of people with a single click! Bandcamp and ReverbNation provided us the opportunity to share our music with all parts of the world.

Instep: Who are your musical inspirations?

Daniyal: Metal originated from the blues, so all of us are pretty ‘bluesy’. From the 70s, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Rainbow to Pakistani bands like Junoon, Noori and Mizraab. Further on to the main inspirations for Tabahi are the legendary thrash metal bands: Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Metallica, Slayer And Annihilator. Every song off of our album has a different feel and musical inspiration to it and when combined all 13, it’s TABAHI.

Instep: You have released Pakistan’s first thrash metal album. How much of a challenge was it to create it?

Daniyal: Some of the songs from the album (‘Devil Inside’, ‘Twisted Minds’, ‘Hona Hai’) were written back in 2008 with Hassan Humayun and we got to record some of the demos too but we had to compromise on the song recording quality because we had no money at the time and  couldn’t afford a proper studio. After Hassan left the band, it took us almost four and half years to gather enough resources to produce the sound that we’ve always wanted. The writing and recording process for the 13 song album took three to four months. At times we all fought, agreed as well as disagreed on different opinions but then managed to produce the best thrash metal sound. We were also helped by Charles Munro (UK) and BESTPLUGINS (Portugal) in producing this record.

Instep: How has been the feedback regarding your album?

Daniyal: The response has been amazing from Pakistan and all parts of the world. We’ve been played, featured and reviewed on numerous promotional metal blogs and magazines in the world. Response from the underground Pakistani metal community has been amazing as well, but in Pakistan we knew our audience would be very limited in size hence the main target for the album was to globally release it and that has gone pretty well. Our album will be physically released in Finland, Malaysia, Germany and Turkey in a couple of months as well and we’re in talks with the rest of the countries for the distribution of Tabahi’s album.

Instep: ‘Hona Hai’, one of your tracks on the album, has been written by Sabir Zafar. How did you manage to hook up with him?

Daniyal: As we’ve told you before, Junoon was a big inspiration whilst we were growing up and covering songs like Sayoonee, Sajna and Sanwal. After all those years, we got in contact with Sabir Zafar when he was in the writing stage of ‘Na Re Na’ by Ali Azmat. We managed to get his time and write a song on the melody that we had for "Hona hai". After hearing the song for the first time, he absolutely didn’t understand it, which was expected from a person who has been writing rock songs and ghazals his whole career. But after a couple of replays, he understood the melody and was more interested in writing than we actually thought he would be. This is the first metal song that he has written and for the people who don’t know Sabir Zafar, he had been awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz in 2010.

Instep: What exactly is it that you guys are aiming for? The fame, the money or sending a message?

Daniyal: We aren’t aiming for money. We’ve invested a hefty sum for the production of the album but never sold our CDs. The CDs were handed out for free to the band’s roadies, friends and people who helped in the making of this rebellious album. If we were hounding fame, we would have gone commercial and made money out of it. Our main intention was to make music that we all three love and spread it across the world. So the main target for the album was to obliterate the negative perceptions that the world harbored for Pakistan.

Instep: What can we expect in the near future as far as Tabahi is concerned?

Daniyal: We’re focusing primarily on distributing our album to possibly every part of the world. Secondly, we haven’t performed for a while because we didn’t have a proper lineup, so we’re looking forward to that because performing live is Tabahi’s forte. Record labels in Pakistan are going through a decline hence we are in talks with record labels from all across the world so as to be signed by them.

Album review

When you have tracks titled as ‘Abomination’, ‘Devil Inside’, ‘Fatwa’, ‘Democrazy’ and ‘Twisted Minds’ making the cut of your debut album, it does raise an eyebrow or two. Tabahi dives into the themes of violence, manipulation, controversy, and conflict like no other thrash band before them.


The band tunes their electric guitars to the first instrumental, ‘Hidden Voices’ which serves as an intro to the 13-song album. Next comes ‘Abomination’ in which we hear for the first time Daniyal Bukhsh Soomro’s hoarse vocals spewing words with malice towards societal ills such as genocide, murder, and prejudice. ‘Fatwa’ is a controversial song that aims to highlight the negative use of the religious ruling by clergymen in order to attain their worldly benefits. The track closes with the following vengeful words:

"God gets revenge for what you’ve done

When he comes to power, we’ll watch"

‘Democrazy’ is yet another track off the album definitely worth a mention. With a catchy chorus, rhythmic drumming and intense guitar sounds echoing to the beat of it, (thanks to Hyder Ali and Faiq Ahmed respectively), the song rips the façade off of the supposedly modern democracy. The leaders are flawed, their policies are daydreams and their actions benefit them alone.

‘Twisted Minds’ screams (literally) for male and female equality rather than women calling all the shots. The lyrics describe marriage as hell.

"So much is wrong today,

Captured in the words you say,

Love is a prison,

From where’s there no escape"

‘Art of War’ addresses the harms and evils of war that plague a nation which encounters it. Inspired by wars in Syria, Egypt and Libya the song emphasizes again and again that the perpetrators of such crimes go unchecked.

‘Hona Hai’ is the only Urdu song in the entire album. Sabir Zafar, the celebrated lyricist with all-time hits like ‘Zamaney Ke Andaaz’ and ‘Meri Awaaz Suno’, pens this song. The song focuses on the artificial misdealing and misfortunes that human beings suffer due to each other’s swindling. The song calls to attention what needs to be done in order to rid ourselves of these evils and focus on the better path.

"Tumhain bhee marna, humain bhee  marna,

Sub hee ko marna hai, marna hai,

Basher se darna, Khuda se darna,

Yehi tay karna hai, karna hai."

"Virgin Bomber" (and my personal favorite song from the album) lashes out at the evil brainwashers who train the innocent to commit suicide bombing. This, by far is the most lyrically impressive song amongst the 13 as well as the most emotional.

"Him at a tender age, they kindle his rage,

Tampering his moral courage,

They train him to die and to kill thousands,

Emerges a ‘bomber’ birthed at their will."

"Mosh, Mosh, Mosh" is a shout-out to the band’s small yet dedicated fan following worldwide, ‘Televised End’ takes a swipe at the media’s controversial present day role and ‘Devil Inside’ urges one to take responsibility for one’s actions without blaming the Devil’s urging.

The album is definitely worth a listen as it really astounds one to feel the magic thrash metal debutants can create from the use of very few instruments such as bass, drums and guitars.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

- Shahjahan Khurram

Metal Messiahs