Blackhour are one of the few Pakistani metal bands to have broken out of the local scene’s limitations and instead promoted their music to metalheads worldwide. Their debut album “Age of War” was recieved to a host of great reviews and they’ve continued to hone their craft since then, playing gigs and accumulating a rabid loyal fanbase in their hometown of Islamabad/Rawalpindi. This is the first time I’m interviewing them, as a part of a short series on Paki Metal. Check out my conversation with band founder Hashim below.
– Hey there lads. How’s everything going?
As our manager would say, “not as much and much as all”.
– Can you tell us a bit about the history of the band – its formation, any lineup changes, key moments?
The band was started in 2007 by me (Hashim Mehmood). Started of like any other college band, loads of line-up changes. We literally had 4 to 5 different vocalist before TayyabRehman joined in. A few more members left and a few joined and in the end only the serious people remained in the band and the current line-up has stayed this way since the debut album in 2011. Although we now have a Co-manager, Chaudhry Ali Hassan alongside our main manager, Hassaan Ahmed.
– You put out “Age of War” on a now-defunct label a few years ago. From what I understand, the distribution was not good and the CD’s themselves were mostly defected – despite that, the album got a great following through your own promotional efforts and live shows. How do you feel about the whole thing now that some time has passed since?
Well, “Age of War” album really went out viral despite all the label and CD drama. The album put up a great name for Blackhour not just in the local markets but since it was released internationally also, it gave us a big boost and surely made a name out there. One thing good about our previous label was that it gave us the push we needed to get things rolling, we completed the album very quickly and we got out in the market. We experimented a lot with our sound and to a point that now we know what the BLACKHOUR sound is.
The road since then till now has been amazing and things are moving in the right direction for Blackhour. In a way it was not too bad working with a label/distributor, after all we were one of the few heavy metal bands to come out with an album, which is pretty amazing.
– A key thing about Black Hour is the power of the vocals and how they compliment the music without taking over the reins completely. Clean vocals as well isn’t something you see often in local Pakistani Metal bands. What motivated you guys to give more emphasis to more traditional metal/rock elements rather than the extreme edge of things?
I personally am a song person, so I kinda listen a lot to what the singer has to say and I find it easier to understand when he isn’t screaming all the time. Hahaha
If you think about it in a way, clean vocals mixed with those metal/rock elements is the Blackhour sound.
– You guys tread a fine line between hard rock and heavy metal, is the future stuff gonna be more rock-ish or more metal?
The future sound will definitely by more heavy metal but we still want to experiment with some rock side of music also. What may be heavy for someone else might be soft rock for the other. Even if our songs do get translated into other genre’s, they will still remain true to the Blackhour sound.
– Black Hour is playing at Hellfest. What do you feel about the festival and its organizers, considering you’ve played at it before too? Are you playing any new tracks this time around?
The organizers are awesome people and mostly they are all very good friends. They know how to pull off a great show, they have been doing an amazing job since the last two festivals and the third one is going to be kickass!
Blackhour will definitely be playing new tracks again and I think we always end up playing a few new tracks with some old classics because I believe it keeps things fresh, see you don’t want to be a cabaret band or a circus band playing the same old tracks again and again. But yeah do not mistake the band for an MP3 player, there’s only so little we can memorize at one time. Hahaha
– How does Hellfest help the local Pakistani scene?
It’s the biggest metal festival of Pakistan. My message to all the young upcoming metal bands, If you’re a metal act then come down to Hellfest and be a part of the biggest metal concert of Pakistan. Because Hellfest gives u the opportunity and the stage you deserve \m/
– What Pakistani bands would you recommend to a foreign reader?
All good metal bands that are active in making new music, playing live and whatnot.
Well, to sound selfish I’d say people should check out Blackhour, just kidding … but really if people are to explore Pakistani metal bands, I can’t start naming all the bands because the list would go on and on. But still to any foreign reader they should check out the data base at Iron Markhor because every metal band has their unique taste to offer and they all are the reason why Pakistan’s metal scene is what it is today!
– 3 albums that changed your approach to music?
For me it’s, “Dance of Death” by Iron Maiden. For Tayyab its, “The sound of perserverance” by Death, for Salman its “Volume 3” by Slipknot and for Mashoo it is “Reload” and “Black” by Metallica.
– Thanks so much for your time. Hope to see you at Hellfest!
Thank you so much for interviewing Blackhour and see you at Hellfest 2014!