Metal from the United Arab Emirates might not be too common but Nephelium are just that by way of Canada. Interview answered by Alan Madhavan – drummer for Nephelium. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Living in a democracy it is hard to imagine that playing metal could be a life or death experience. What is the official stance on hardrock/heavy metal in your home country? Where in the Koran does it say that this music is the work of Evil (The Devil)?
-As far as metal and hard and heavy rock is concerned, the U.A.E. is what it is today because of a following we helped build when we were younger. Let alone playing heavy music; back then, you were lucky if you heard of anything musical going on. As the years went by, more and more people from all over the Emirates would come to shows and gigs that people in bands and fans would put on for the sheer love of it and such is how the word spread. Today live acts including Opeth, Machine Head, In Flames and Metallica to name a few have graced the Arabian sands. As for the Qur’an, we don’t study it, which means my answer wouldn’t be credible.

When relocating, why choosing Canada? It seems like a backwards decision given the extreme metal history of other similar countries?
-In a nutshell, we want to be “Canada’s metal rep”! Apart from the fact that we have family over here, Alex and I wanted to present ourselves with a challenge. One may ask why, considering the challenges we were faced with back home. We feel that there is a big difference between “making it” and “representing it” and needless to say, we prefer the latter. We love challenges and hard work, we thrive of it as our music portrays – it always makes us want to deliver that much more!

I can imagine that mentioned in Canada that you play in a death metal band nobody raises an eye brow. What has that experience been like for you coming from a rather totalitarian society to a free democracy?
-To the best of my knowledge Canada, Toronto at least is pretty well rounded as far as music in general is concerned. Granted, metal is not the eminence of that list but we want to lend a helping hand in getting it up there or at least close. The transition from the Gulf to Canada was very smooth. Apart from public display of affection, you can almost do there what we do here.

When you live in a country as strict as it still is back home how does that affect the way you consume music? I can only imagine what it is like.
-As we’ve mentioned in previous interviews, being able to get a hold of metal back in the day was a task and a half! We had to resort to the one thing musicians detest the most…DOWNLOADING! We had no choice and it actually pained us. I tried on several occasions to bring in CDs from other countries when I went on holiday and always had them confiscated at the airport. If this explains anything, we want to give back what such great bands and artists gave us by sharing the stage with them and supporting them on tours and such.

Can you buy CDs in stores or do you have to mail order it? How tough are the authorities on custom checks?
-After what the scene has now become, you certainly can buy CDs in stores and have them mailed if you’re looking for something not available over the counter. LOL, fully mentioned in answer four above! They were never nice…there was no pleading or anything. If they saw some artwork they thought was out of order it was thrown into the basket beside them.

What was it that made you want to form a death metal band? Anything in your cultural history that is fitting the extreme nature of death metal?
-Not at all, it’s just the type of music we ALL at the time loved and so would consequently be comfortable playing together. Also, we were young and it was rebellious…in many facets…so that definitely added to the mix…:D

How do you redefine a whole genre? What is the perfect death metal to you?
-To me, good death metal is a collaboration of various musical components. I absolutely LOVE variety in music; when I listen to and play it. There are basic elements such as blasts and they’re sub-types, all kinds of vocals such as growls, pig squeals, gutturals, etc…but what makes it perfect to me is the added color, REAAALY well crafted transitions, bringing memorable parts back within and/or between songs and things like that. A mélange of all those tools and tricks keeps my ears peeled.

Was it hard to find like-minded people to play with in Toronto? What is the death metal scene like in Toronto?
-All the members that have played with us have played a significant role in who we are so far. Finding musicians here was not a problem at all. Before band mates, we share something even closer – a brotherhood. We are a family even outside the rehearsal space and this is by no means why we are but merely informative – we feel that it does reflect in our music when writing.

What kinds of reactions have you had to your death metal so far? Any that stands out more than the others?
-We’ve been told that we fuse old school death metal with progressive elements really well through a modern sound. I feel alongside other bands and their uniqueness, we definitely have something different to offer. Because we takes so many different avenues when writing and make sure all of us throw in ideas, I feel that we cater to several various tastes in the metal world.

How do you plan on taking the band even further onto world domination?
-As I mentioned earlier, we want to represent Canada with what we do. Through a strong label, shows, merch, and most importantly, blood, sweat and beers (Machine Head OWNS)…we will share with the world what we have crossed an ocean to do.

Links: (free download available of merciless annihilation track)

Youtube stream of Merciless Annihialtion –

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