Tabahi is a Thrash Metal band from Karachi, Pakistan. A city known as the most violent in Pakistan, and among the world’s most dangerous. A perfect breeding ground for quality thrash metal. After all, dangerous places have always spawned deadly metal bands. However, it hasn’t been the case for this city, especially in the last few years when the scene was plagued with groove and modern metal acts propagating themselves as thrash. No worries though, Tabahi set everyone straight with their debut album and their classic thrash sound.
After the crushing intro track “Hidden Voices,” Tabahi get straight to business with their pummeling, percussive brutality with the songs “Abomination” and “Fatwa,” setting the tone for an hour of non-stop headbanging. It does not take long for the influence of German thrash-mongering barbarians Tankard and Destruction to become apparent to the well-trained ears. Pretty much every riff here can be aligned in some way or the other to the 84-88 era of German thrash metal, when the Teutonic horde was focusing on primitive barbarism – before the era of more technical thrash songs began. The songs here, like that of their influences, move at generally blistering pace – Faiq’s disciplined strokes and Daniyal’s war chants being the main ammunition for Tabahi’s artillery. As all good thrash acts, Tabahi know that short term tempo-changes benefit the long-term assault, like soldiers reloading their rifles on the battle-field. Moments of mosh-inducing grooves hit in at just the right moment, showing that while the Germans are undoubtedly a big influence, Tabahi is equally indebted to US Thrash bands like Overkill and Whiplash. In fact, tracks like “Hona Hai” and “Democrazy” would not sound out of place on Overkill’s “Under the Influence” while “Virgin Bomber” has Slayer’s “Hell Awaits” album written all over it. There’s even an Iron Maiden esque section on “Escape From Reality” whereas “Thrashbandi” is a homage to local South Asian sufi music titans Junoon. The myriad of influences here maintains that every song is a little different from the other. Individual songs may be predictable, but not the entire album as an entity. Speed, intensity, groove and memorability is the key purpose here… and there are plenty of sing-along moments as well!
Nearly every vocal line is completely decipherable, including the Urdu songs. This only adds to Daniyal’s often sarcastic-sounding delivery – not too different from Kreator’s Mille. The gang shouts are a nice addition, though at times one wishes they were slightly more intense. The production is noticeably raw, but by raw I do not mean badly mixed or mastered. Every instrument including the bass lives independently in its own domain, which shows that the band has devoted some hard work to the mix – normally in Pakistan, mixes come off sounding very muddy (a problem we’ve had with my bands too). The guitar tone gives the music a very lethal edge, hammering down the riffs into your ears – though the computer drum sound comes off a little thin a times, thus lowering the intensity of the riff attack.
Originality is not the main purpose here. If you are looking for some avant-garde, highly original thrash metal, you’d best take out your Vektor LP and give it a spin. However, if you’re looking for some authentic third world thrash to make you bang your head as well as injecting your mind with a fresh perspective on South Asian politics – you’re at the right place. In fact, instead of wasting your money on the 45th album from an old school thrash band (who have no original members left), spend them on this group of guys instead. Not to say that Tabahi are a complete 80’s homage. They seem to be leaning towards a sound of their own, and songs like “Thrashbandi” show the band’s dedication to being different from the pack of thrash bands out there trying to make a mark. With all said and done, this is a solid debut album and if the work ethic continues to be this strong, they can go far. Guitarist Faiq has a very distinct guitar style already, and so does vocalist Daniyal, and it’s only a matter of time before these Karachi lads come into their own as a regional force in Asia.
Highlights: Fatwa, Twisted Minds, Art of War, Virgin Bomber, Hona Hai, Escape From Reality, Thrashbandi, Televised End