Guitarist Alex Zubair from the death metal band Nephelium spoke with me recently about the band's latest release, Coils Of Entropy. The group originally formed in Dubai then eventually relocated to Toronto, Canada. Their East meets West sound is very unique as they combine thrash, death and black metal with a Middle Eastern influence, the result of which is quite stunning. Yes this is a heavy and punishing disc, but there are also unexpected elements and surprises waiting around every corner. Here's what Zubair had to say about the band and their new CD.
Now that your new CD, Coils Of Entropy, has been released, how do you feel about it and are you satisfied with the outcome? Alex: Yeah actually we are very satisfied with the way it turned out. We worked really hard and crossed two continents to get it done. Canada is my home, I am Canadian, but I lived in the UAE because my family lived there. So this is years of struggling and a really long journey trying to put it together and it is finally about to be released so we are very excited.
What is your writing process like? Alex: Allen and I have been writing together for the past 15 years. We have built this chemistry where he and I will come up with the structure of the songs and then the guys jump in and we share our ideas together. That is how we always write.
When you write do you do so with the stage in mind? Alex: Yes we definitely do that. There are a lot of things we think about when we are writing our material. There are a lot of complex instrumentations in our music and we must think of that.
Yeah I agree especially with the whole Middle Eastern vibe running through most of the record. It really adds a different depth to it. Alex: Absolutely! People say we sound like an old school band sounding new school and some people think we sound very technical, but we just take every genre of death metal and put them together. It is just like a big cocktail of music.
Are there any tracks on the disc that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them? Alex: My personal favorite would be the title track, "Coils Of Entropy." The reason why is because when I moved back to Toronto the rest of the band was still overseas. When we got the team together it was the first song we worked on and the chemistry was awesome.
Check out the song: "Merciless Annihilation"
What is the metal scene like over in Dubai? Alex: Dubai is a very metropolitan place, it is an Islamic country but they are not very strict. I used to travel a lot and when I went to Europe I used to smuggle tapes and bring them into the country. Sometimes they would confiscate the stuff and if it had controversial material on it they would keep it. Things started to change in the early '90s and all the kids were bringing in music. The local scene was huge and a lot of bands started popping up; that is how the scene started. We started off as a death metal band with some black metal influences, but that eventually evolved. It was really hard because it was difficult to find places to jam because people didn't really like metal. Even the underground shows we used to play had hundreds and hundreds of people show up, but we had to be very careful.
So did you have to taper things back a bit in order not to cause a scene? Alex: Yeah we had to hold things back a bit and tell them that it was a kid's battle of the bands or something like that. But things eventually changed. We created the underground scene over there and we were huge. While I was living in Toronto waiting for Allen things opened up and bigger bands began playing there, bands like Opeth, Arch Enemy and Sepultura.
What kind of touring plans do you have in support of the record? Alex: We are a Canadian band now. Toronto is our home, but we want to tour all over the world. We want to tour Europe and we plan on going back to the Middle East and playing a lot of shows over there.