If you notice a higher than average amount of noise coming from behind some of the city’s garage doors this week – don’t panic. It’s not the first sign of a vehicular uprising on the scale of Transformers, but rather the sound of the capital’s rock bands frantically honing their material as they prepare for a one-off shot at the big time.
The first event of its type in Abu Dhabi, Yas Rock Factory will be pitching five of the city’s most promising unsigned acts against each other, as they attempt to shred, howl and headbang their way to a Dhs20,000 grand prize. Best of all, though, the triumphant outfit will also win themselves a place among this year’s Yasalam festivities, plonking them in the black-booted footsteps of acts such as Aerosmith and Linkin Park. Here are a few contenders who might be in with a shot of making it to Flash Forum on March 10...
If you were at Guns N’ Roses’ Yas Arena show in December, chances are you’re familiar with these guys, since they were the group handed the formidable task of warming up the crowd for Axl and the boys. Since then, the chart-friendly rock quintet have established themselves as the go-to act for opening the UAE’s big-name gigs; having supported Republica last month, they’ve just been confirmed as the opening act when Maroon 5 play Dubai in April. Could this be the moment they finally claim the limelight for themselves?
Chances: With some high-profile shows under their belt, Juliana Down have to be seen as strong favourites.
Relatively new on the scene, this Abu Dhabi-based four-piece still seem to be in the process of honing their sound. Their current roster of tracks flits between enigmatic, Placebo-esque sonic experimentation and the all-out aural assault of acts such as Slipknot, while industrious fretboard work is seemingly at the core of the group’s musical mission statement. They’ve got potential, certainly, but could it be too early for them to be aiming for the city’s biggest stage?
Chances: The self-indulgent solos of the band’s vocal-lite work could split the voting public. Get through to the judges, though, and the bright ideas on tracks such as ‘The Cure’ could work in their favour.
A Blessed Aftermath
Growly vocals, thunderous bass and lightning-fast riffs that must surely leave guitarist Joel Reardon needing reconstructive surgery on his fingers: these are the hallmarks of one of the UAE’s most promising hardcore metal acts. Having released their self-titled debut album last year, the boys have become regulars at various alternative nights in Dubai. Which, given that you’d think twice about selling them cigarettes, is quite an achievement.
Chances: With a strong look and some inventive material, we reckon these youngsters just might sneak into the final five.
The Crow Murder
With machine gun drumming, leather waistcoats and an apparent haircut policy of long ’n’ shaggy or bald as a melon, these guys are just about as old school as they come (we actually slightly suspect their members might be A Blessed Aftermath’s dads). Musically, System of a Down and Trivium look to be likely influences, while vocalist Jamie Hendry sounds remarkably like Staind’s Aaron Lewis. The band regularly share a stage with Middle Eastern metal heavyweights Nervecell, and, as such, have experienced the UAE’s rock scene at its sweaty best.
Chances: With experience on their side, this lot could be potential finalists – as long as at least one of the judges owns an Iron Maiden T-shirt.
Yas Rock Factory takes place at Flash Forum on March 10. Entry is free. To check out the contenders and vote for who you think should make the final, visit www.facebook.com/yasrockfactory