The Desert Rock headliners this year are Motörhead. Though they’ve inspired countless metal bands (not least with their use of the meaningless-but-cool heavy metal umlaut), band leader Lemmy prefers to think of his music as rock ’n’ roll. Well, whatever makes him happy – the important thing to us is that one of the genuine legends of the guitar world is coming here to play riff after riff after riff of classic tuneage.
When frontwoman Angela Gossow joined Arch Enemy in 2001, she kicked off a growing wave of female-fronted metal bands. Don’t expect ladylike vocals, though – Gossow growls and roars through the band’s tracks like a 10-ton pitbull with a throat full of razorblades and broken glass. And we mean that in the nicest possible way. Expect fast-paced, mosh-inducing, brutal death metal.
This one should be interesting: mixing death metal with prog rock and folk music influences, Opeth have become one of the most simultaneously popular and uncommercial metal acts of the past 15 years. We’re talking about a band that made a five-track album last for 66 minutes. Here’s hoping they manage to pull together enough short tracks to make a varied set – though, with nine albums to choose from, that shouldn’t be too tricky.
Chimaira – that’s pronounced like the Greek monster ‘chimera’, just so you know – are from Ohio, USA. A big part of the new wave of American metal, this metalcore band has not only clocked in four albums, featured on TV and film soundtracks and hit number 42 on the US Billboard charts, but also – and here’s the best bit – gone on tour with cartoon band Dethklok from Cartoon Network’s cult animated comedy Metalocalypse. Awesome!
August Burns Red
Bringing something a little different to the festival, August Burns Red (named after an unfortunate dog named Red and a vengeful girl named August – true story), from Pennsylvania, USA, will play progressive metal-core tunes. And – who knows? – possibly some new tracks from their as-yet-unnamed next CD, which will be released this year.
Representing Dubai are local-band-done-good Nervecell. Don’t mistake ‘local’ for ‘inexperienced’, though. With three albums under their belts – their latest, Preaching Venom, was released early 2008 – an Australian tour and appearances at foreign festivals, they know what they’re doing. And what they’re doing is Western-style death and thrash metal on a par with the best of their competitors.
Winners of the United We Rock competition, Hatred are a German band dedicated to ’80s-style thrash metal in the Exodus/ Metallica vein, with a little power metal screaming and melody thrown in. Their latest album is Madhouse Symphonies.
Also victorious at the United We Rock competition, Scarab are an Egyptian band that tie philosophical and spiritual musings to heavy and brutal – yet melodic – tunes. The band overcame financial problems and family objections to release their first album, Blinding The Masses, last year.
Desert Rock Festival, March 6, Dubai Festival City. Dhs250, www.desertrockfestival.com