Over the period of the last 4 years, there has been somewhat of a resurgence in Pakistan, or at least a fresh surge of interest, for the art known as Doom Metal. Though early Pakistani Metal stalwarts Dusk had already paved the way for a future interest in Doom with their mournful sounds, it wasn’t until recently that things started to kick up. A few bands mostly centered around Karachi and Lahore emerged – Dionysus, Myosis, later on Khorne, and recently Munkar, helped foster further interest with a series of releases. Made up of Dionysus mainman Sheraz Ahmed and aided by his former guitar students, Irritum emerged as a new Doom force in Lahore and are all set to release their debut album next year after a series of live shows and well-received songs on Bandcamp/Soundcloud.
– Hey lads, how’s everything going?
Sheraz: Its all good, thank you.
– Since it’s the first interview of the band, a little background info on Irritum, the inception of the band into the current onset of the debut release.
Sheraz: Irritum was formed when Farid and Ahsan got to know about their new found joy for Doom metal and came to me asking to form a band and since my older band Dionysus was on hiatus due to our vocalist moving out of town. I thought what could be a better outlet to fulfil my love for this slow and murky style of art that we call Doom?! We later recruited Ahmed Malik on vocals that had never done growling vocals in his life before Irritum, but he’s the best vocalist I’ve ever worked with.
– Sheraz you already made waves with your other band Dionysus’ debut EP. What seperates Irritum from Dionysus musically and aesthetically, especially since both fall under the broad category of “Doom”?
Sheraz: Dionysus was doom initially but then it started delving into more black/death style while still having the doom moments. Dionysus’ music cannot be categorized under one style, it’s too diverse. While on the other hand Irritum is strictly all about doom. But then again, it’s not just one kinda doom. We’ve songs like Crossing the gates which is a goth/doom song in the vein of bands like Tristania, Theatre of Tragedy, Draconian etc and we’ve songs like Treading the Lands Unknown which are remnants of the early 90s UK death/doom, for me it’s all about atmosphere and the feeling. Most of the doom bands are diverse in songwriting. That’s why it’s the most interesting music ever made!
– Did either of you imagine having a band together when Sheraz first started giving you guitar lessons?
Sheraz: When I started giving guitar lessons to Farid with Ahsan coming by occasionally, I never thought we were going to be recording a whole album together. But it’s funny how things turned out and I am proud of these guys!
Ahsan: At first we never did. My man Farid used to take formal lessons from Sheraz I just went along and day by day we picked up bits and pieces of inspiration and understanding of Doom metal from our bro. We started making our own riffs and showing them to Sheraz, then we made some songs together and here we are!
– The song you guys put on Soundcloud – Crossing the Gates – has 2 guest appearances, from Olga and Rauhan. Are you going to involve other musicians on the album as well?
Sheraz: Don’t know about other musicians, but Olga and Rauhan will be appearing on more of our songs in the future.
Ahsan: As Sheraz said so I don’t need to repeat the answer but yes featuring both of them was a brilliant decision.
– How have live shows been for Irritum? Has the Pakistani metal crowd adapted well to the usual crawling pace and horrific atmosphere of Doom?
Sheraz: We started playing live earlier this year. We’ve played 4 shows till now and that’s a lot considering the frequency of live metal shows in Pakistan. One of them was in Islamabad at an event called Hellfest (not the French metal festival). lol. All of our shows have been phenomenal, we were able to introduce a lot of people to doom metal and we always include some essential doom classics in our setlist to let the crowd know about our roots. Like we played Saint Vitus’ born too late at our last show and we’ve been playing a lot Katatonia, Saturnus’s covers at our shows alongside the original songs.
– Speaking of Pakistan, there’s been a sudden interest in Doom in the last few years with bands from Karachi and Lahore starting, as well as veterans Dusk returning to the eve. How would you explain this paradigm shift from the general groove/mallcore tastes to Doom?
Sheraz: Dusk has been there since the beginning and I owe them a lot for shaping my thinking for the underground metal and how it’s supposed to be. I think the shift started with the release of Dionysus’ Hymn to the Dying. Dusk was there since the beginning but a lot of new kids in Pakistan didn’t know about them and Dionysus with our live shows were able to re-introduce the pakistani crowd to this art which was long forgotten due to overload of modern metal on the live front. I am happy to help and be part of this new movement of bands in Pakistan trying out different stuff, it’s not just doom. Like we’ve sludge bands like Munkar and death metal bands like KBC and grind stuff like Throttle instinct etc. It’s all good as long as they keep evolving.
– Sheraz, all your bands have so far achieved physical releases on a variety of formats. This includes Flaw and Ilhaam as well. How do the physical releases fare in general, especially within the context of our region?
Sheraz: I think physical releases are really important. Although most of the promotion is done on the online streaming sites but to own the music in substance is the whole another thing. I think we’ve a lot of enthusiasts in this part of the world who still collects CD and hold formats like tapes and vinyls in high value. And you can expect Irritum’s CD release soon! 😉
– Top 5 Doom albums that have had a profound impact on the band’s sound and style?
Candlemass: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
Asphyx: Last One on earth
Anathema: Crestfallen EP
Katatonia: Dance of December souls
Decomposed: Hope Finally Died
– Thanks for your time! Eagerly awaiting the album.
Thanks for the support!