Shaky beginnings (1995-1996)
BLAAKYUM is A Lebanese Heavy Metal Band. The Band started in the summer of 1995; Bassem Deaïbess who has been playing the guitar for a while and singing had the typical dream of most young musicians, to have a band. Maroun Azar was Deaïbess neighbour and friend since they were small kids. The weird thing is that both of them would chat for hours from each own home balcony but never really met. So after 17 years of existence they discovered that they both love the guitar, Deaïbess started giving Azar some guitar lessons then both of them decided to look for a teacher and to form a band With Deaïbess as vocalist and guitarist and Azar as Guitars and Harmonica. Later in a Spiritual gig in front of a Church in the suburbs of Beirut (in a town called Hazmieh) Deaïbess and Azar were introduced to Jean Saad, a talented very young drummer, after a short practice he played with them on that gig and they became friends, Saad Joined the band. After a "short-time search" the guys found Jad Nohra (Azar's school mate) as a lead guitarist. They started rehearsing at Saad's home basement without a bassist. They started playing some pop and pop/rock songs, M. Azar had to leave the band because he was too busy studying Medicine.
Later on Jean Abdullah was asked to handle the bass since he use to play some guitars, but he didn't have any experience and he didn't take any lessons, unfortunately he couldn't make it. He decided to stick to the band though, and was a great help especially on the management level.
The Band started as a Grunge-Punk Band; and the band played its first gig at The Lebanese University - Faculty of Human Since -Fanar (Deaïbess's University), without a bassist (The bassist of Generations X band helped them a bit on that gig). After auditioning a couple of bassists the band wasn't able to find any, until Deaïbess's Brother Samer Deaïbess took the Bass Guitar role. After a while the band switched to Thrash Metal with Metallica being the biggest influence (1996). In that period the band played another gig in a gas station hangar, the concert didn't work out well because of the bad quality of the sound system. Then the band gigged in some pubs around the Lebanese Mountain, like Broumana’s Ritz Pub, Hazmieh’s 3 Demotions Pub, and Stikes pub... and others. The band played in the 1st rock festival that took place in the 90's in Beirut Hall, the well known Rock Concert I. This was not their best performance.
Then The Doom Wave struck the country and Doom bands started pooping All over Lebanon, so BLAAKYUM played Doom Metal but not for long, because of the bad reputation the band had from "Rock Concert 1" the band started having some problems within its members, mainly Nohra who objected Deaibess remaining on vocal duties, that lead Nohra to leaving the band after a Great concert at Jamhour College where they gigged with what once was one of the Lebanese most talented Doom Bands 'Chain Of Disease', the band performed a full set of their own original songs (an unusual thing at the time).
First of many to come (1997)
After the departure of Nohra (1997), Samer Deaïbess had to quit so he could concentrate on his official exams at school. Mano was brought to fill in the bass role and the band started looking for a lead guitarist. After trying a couple of guitarists they found Shant Bajacksian a very young and talented guitarist as well, but Bajacksian had also official exams and couldn't keep up. so Nohra rejoined the band, but things didn't work out, and he insisted that Bassem Deaïbess would quit singing and concentrate on the rhythm Guitar, in the same time he started another band with Mano and Saad called unofficially "Society", Deaïbess felt that the band was falling apart and that Saad and Mano will leave the band to remain in Society, that's when he met Vicken Bajacksian (Shant's elder brother) in a rehearsal centre where "Society" were rehearsing, and they decide to reform Blaakyum. Bajacksian introduced his Friend Georgic on drums. Deaïbess contacted Jean-Pierre Mattar from the number 1 Lebanese Rock and Metal band "Exceed" who were about to disband. Mattar said he would try out for one concert. After the band rehearsed and played its 1st concert at Peak Hall (use to be called Peak FM Concert Hall) Mattar decided to join the band officially, but he asked for the drummer to be changed because of his lack of musicianship, and he suggested Sir Ghassan (Saker X-Strangers and x-Cedra the number 1 NWOBHM Lebanese Band back at that time) and a D.I.T. London graduate and an old friend of Mattar. So the band was reformed with great musicians. The Band played Heavy Metal mainly with a bit of Thrash (mostly cover songs), it gigged as well in pubs with some Classic Metal tunes with Jad Aouad (x-Leviathan, x-Blend, currently with Eleen Khatchadourian band) replacing Mr. Saker on drums duties for the smaller gigs.
The first Golden Age (1998-2001)
In 1998 the Band reached its peak with 13 shows at PEAK FM Concert Hall, 2 Band competitions (BLAAKYUM won the Band competition at Marriott Hotel with a professional Jury : Walid Tawil (Drums), Edgar Aoun (Vocals), Oussama El-Rouhbani (Music), and the General Manager of Marriott Hotel as the public listener in the Jury). And they recorded there single "Am I Black" at RAM studio in Haret-Hraik; Am I Black is a soft Rock/Doom song that the Lebanese scene now knows by heart.
The departure of Saker in 1999, because of some health problems opened the doors for the band to a new realm, The band had to maintain its professional level and high quality, creative, and talented music, so they settled on Sir Rodrigue Balian a drummer the band had never heard anything like before! He was the first double bass drummer the band had ever had, he brought the progressive influence to the band since Balian was a Dream Theater fan, playing progressive was the hardest task for the band, so Deaïbess called on his old friend Jad Nohra to rejoin the band and so he did after he realised that Deaibess has started taking vocal lessons and was not actually as bad as he thought he was. After that the band started rehearsing and they worked on two new songs called "Deathdeny" and "The Gate", the latter was suppose to be the title track of their debut album. They performed a concert in La Cité Jounieh March1999 with the band Alienz (Blaakyum saw a great talent in the Alienz and decided to support them).
J.P. Mattar had to go to the army to do his national army service, so the band had to find another guitarist, and Balian suggested his friend William Mallouk who was the next right choice since he composes good progressive music, and was a very talented lead guitarist. The next step was a new concert, the band played in Ehdin Festivals in August 1999 with the band Alienz, it was a very special event since Blaakyum and Alienz were the 1st bands from Beirut to ever play in the north and especially in Ehdin. Balian had to leave the band for personal reasons after that and David Elias (Armageddon Drummer at the time) was in. Bajacksian rejoined Valhalla and left Blaakyum, till that date Vicken Bajacksian was the member that stayed with Blaakyum the most (other than Deaïbess the founder). Next step was the audition of Walid El-Massieh and Robert Aramouni for the bass role and El-Massieh was chosen by the band (although Deaïbess preferred Aramouni), it is to note the sweetness of fate that Walid El-Massieh went on to become a music producer and take part in producing Blaakyum’s debut album 9 years later. Not long after, William Mallouk had to leave the band because he had to go back to his beloved country Brazil. Jad Nohra got a job in Germany and had to leave the band. So Deaïbess asked Robert Aramouni to join the band in the middle of the year 2000. He contacted Walif Ayoubi as well (A classic guitar teacher in the Lebanese National Conservatory) and they rehearsed for a while, then Deaïbess thought of getting Elias Njeim (the most popular Lebanese Metal Guitarist and founder of the band Armageddon), but things weren't working out well, though little did the two musicians realise that Njeim would join Blaakyum 9 years later. Deaïbess contacted Alan Azar from Alienz to handle the Lead Guitars since he was into the progressive thing. For a short period of time David Elias couldn't play because of some health problems so Mazen (from the famous Lebanese cover band Linger) filled his place for a while.
This lineup of Blaakyum, that was:Bassem Deaïbess, Alan Azar, Robert Aramouni, and David Elias could be considered one of the best line-ups back then. The band played in the first Rock Nation festival to ever take place in Lebanon at CrepAway Jounieh-Maameltain in August 2001, and it was a good concert, it showed surprisingly the band that it had the biggest fan base in Lebanon and the band were thunderstruck when they realised the whole crowed knew Am I Black by heart. The concert estimated about 2000 attendance.
End of the First Age (2001) After the concert that band was put on hold because David Elias's health was not stable and Deaïbess and Aramouni Joined The band The Alienz. A big conflict between the 2 bands rose as Deaibess predicted, after which Deaïbess was fired from Alienz, and because of David Elias inability to perform with the band (as he had joined Music Hall venue and was bound by a contract there) Deaïbess decided to announce the final split of Blaakyum.
Seven years of Slumber (2001-2007)
The rest of Blaakyum members went separate ways, Robert Aramouni remained with Alienz till they split in 2004 then became a sessionists player, Alain Azar the founder of Alienz as well carried on after Alienz to become a solo artist, releasing his debute album in 2009 then a new album in 2011. Right after Deaibess left Alainz he announced Blaakyum split, and had a severe throat injury which forebodes him from singing for a full year. In 2002 he Joined Communion (later to become a very famous Lebanese cover band) who won the Hard Rock Cafe Clash of the Bands II on the 29th of August that year with Deaibess being awarded best Vocal performance. In 2003 he joined the Progressive Metal band Solitaire (from Tripoli) and in 2004 he joined The Hourglass band from Syria (had since released 3 releases, two full length albums and one EP). He as well performed in other projects like the prog band Carpe Diem, as well as the side project band he created Davinci (which was a band concept where the members were anyone who wished and was free to play at the time). In 2006 Deaibess took over the pub that Communion use to perform at regularly, called Cherry’s Pub, and with few of his bandmates being his work partners, Cherry’s Pub became the centre of the Lebanese Rock and Metal scene. Because of the duties of handling a pub Deaibess’s schedule became so tight that he had to eventually quit Solitaire after recording an album with them (the album was never released) and halt the Davinci project. Deaibess tried writing original material with Communion, but by the end of 2006 it was apparent that the band was more into remaining a cover band, and its members more focused on their regular lives, and by the end of 2007 few members had gotten their immigration visas and were preparing to leave the country, So Deaibess started considering reforming Blaakyum
The New Metal Order (2007-2008)
On a hot Tuesday night on the 21st of August 2007 Blaakyum announced it’s Reunion on their official blog with these words : “Seven Years Of Slumber and the Beast is BACK!!!”And Blaakyum’s first appearance within seven years would be at Cherry’s Pub, GBOB (Global Battle Of the Bands) national heat. From there Blaakyum carried on. Deaibess seeing that Communion were not serious about working on their original material recruited Communion's Drummer Georgic Najaraian with whom he had been playing for over 5 years, the two musicians has developed a unique musical bond that was obvious later on by the way they anticipated in the right direction each other’s next note and rhythm... For the Bass duties Deaibess was introduced to a young talented Bassist that goes by the name of Mr. Rany Battikh. Deaibess was impressed by the high level of musicianship, but Battikh was not simply an accomplished bassist, he was an oldschool metalhead, which meant he was of those, knights-like, who’s ever thirst for metal knowledge and enrichment sent them on never ending quests of search for undiscovered music, combining Georgic Najarian and Rany Battikh you would have a Rock n Metal walking talking encyclopaedia of two volumes that cover everything from 1950 till present. On guitar duties Deaibess recruited another talented guitarist, Mr. Elias Al Rahbani who was known as “Oushi” The foursome started practising heavily for the Global Battle Of the Bands competition and to lunch the reformation of the band, this line up remained solid for a time, with the exception of one heat where Georgie Najarian was not able to perform with the band, and Mark Bassila a well know virtuoso drummer (was the Drummer of the band Void back then) saved the band for that heat. Blaakyum won the Lebanese National Final (The second trophy on the band’s list and the third for Frontman Bassem Deaibess) And prepared to go to London after giving a breath taking performance the night of their travel. Blaakyum secured one date in London GBOB’s World Final, and were qualified to the Super Finals where they played another date, and ended up in 7 th place. The result was satisfactory taken into consideration that they were the only Metal band in the competition. After the return to Lebanon Blaakyum recruited Mr. Wissam Tabet for Keyboards duties, and carried on giving few shows of which one (Back to the Roots II 2008 in Tantra Kaslik) was captured on video a. That was the last show Blaakyum would give with its current lineup.
Yet another change (2008 – 2010) In the summer of 2008 Blaakuym had a scheduled appearance in Rock Nation 2008, the last Rock Nation festival to be held. It was an important and symbolic performance for the band since they were on the bill of the first Rock nation 2001, and since this was known to be the last festival in the series it held this symbolic meaning. The Lead Guitarist Elias Al Rahbany (A.K.A. Oushi) informed the band one week before the gig that he had other obligations and that he will not be able to perform with the band, none the less the band did not cancel the gig but went on stage as a three piece band (with the addition of their Keyboard sessionists Mr. Tabet) and for the few songs that Deaibess had started composing during the last days with Communion he had Paren Jimbashian (Communion lead guitarist) perform with them the last three songs. The concert was one of the best shows Blaakyum ever gave to date, filled with emotions and aggression and Ouchi’s departure was announced on stage. After that hot august, Blaakyum Struggled to find a good replacement for Ouchi, and tried different musicians, at that time Blaakyum entered the studio for the first time, ten years after releasing their single Am I Black, and started messing around with different options to decide what and how they will record. They had a label deal with Jordan River Entertainment (Mute Records-Jordan) which secured them a concert in Jordan, and were offered a production deal by New Waves Production’s Walid Al Massih. And they continued the search for a new guitarist in parallel, and the choice was settled on Mr.Hadi Battikh, brother of Blaakyum’s Bassist Rany Battikh, but again, things were shaky for the band as by that time, George Najarian had signed a contract with Music Hall venue, and Elefteriades Reocrds and could no longer travel with the band for their Jordan scheduled gig. So the band started looking for a touring drummer and the choice fell on one Chris Michael (x-Element 26, Inner Guilt) a young very talented and on the rise Metal drummer! As Blaakyum was preparing for the show things in Jordan started deteriorating for the metal scene and metal shows were banned and the gig cancelled! The band focused on its recording process again, but before they were able to enjoy a full force band working in the studio, Blaakyum was struck by another misfortune; George Najarian had to leave permanently the band to honour his new contract with the Music Hall venue and Elefteriades records. This was a big blow to Blaakuym and specially Deaibess who had shared 6 years of great music with the drummer. This change brought the album recording to a halt. Blaakyum went on to perform its last gig with George Najariam for its September 2008 Summer Fusion with Mr.Hadi Battikh on lead guitar. Hadi was a very talented musician, and it was because of him that the band kept going, but the chemistry simply did not work out at the time, which was a loss for Blaakyum, looking at it in one interview Deaibess reflected: “I think he was not given a fair chance with us, we had just broken up with Elias El Rahabani (a.k.a. Oushi) and were so used to having a more Hard Rockish approach to our way of soloing, I had a vision for Blaakyum and that was that we play heavy and even thrash metal but the solos remain more mellow and reminisces of Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Dio and even the likes of Joe Satriani, and Steve Morse, while Hadi presented us with shredder solos and extreme technicality... Funny how a year after that we settled for the most technical and shredder guitarist in Lebanon, I think Hadi Battikh made that possible." Deaibess and Rany Battikh started looking for a replacement for both Drums and Lead Guitar, and time was running out as Blaakyum was asked to perform the opening act for the band Lake of Tears who had their concert in January 2009. The choice of a new guitarist was set on Elias Njeim, an old timer from Deaibess’s generation who was considered for the same position 9 years earlier, only this time it did work. While the first logical choice for a drummer was Mark Bassila (x-PostMortem, X-Void) as he had performed with the band before and he was a great versatile drummer, from Jazz, Funk, Reggae, Rock to Thrash and Metal, Rany Battikh came up with a cunning plan to recruit both musicians as both of them were virtuoso and were very picky when it comes to band members, and so Battikh informed Njeim that Bassila was on drumming duties, and he informed Bassila that Njeim was on lead guitar duties (even before both agree) and that secured the position for both of them, and they both joined in January 2009 and the band started rehearsing for its Lake of Tears concert. But after few jam sessions Bassila decided he did not want to take part in a metal band, and simply stopped attending band rehearsals and disappeared. Blaakyum was in a tight position two weeks before the show and the search went on... Rany Battikh and Jad Feitrouni are the founders of a power metal band called Phoenikia, at that time the band was not as active as before so Battikh suggested the name of Jad Feirtrouni to Deaibess as a potential drummer, and after few simple question Deaibess agreed as he trusted Battikh’s judgement. Mr. Jad Feitrouni Joined Blaakyum one week before their Lake of Tears date. Mr. Feitrouni was a great asset to the band in terms of musicianship and devotion, and so after the band lost a full year looking for members the record process was restarted. By the end of 2010 Blaakyum’s producer had relocated their recording sessions from New Wave Productions’ main studios to Studio B (Later to become The Alchemist Studio) which was more accessible for the band who struggled for a whole year with the recording process. After re-recording the album for the third time (first time with old line up, second time new line up, third time in new studio), the new band’s sound Engineer Mr. Karim Noujaim suggested doing yet another re-recoding of the whole album and replacing the digital VST and Electric drum samples with actual live drums recording and live guitar amp recording. But the album recording would be delayed a bit further as Bassem Deaibess joined Music Hall venue as well as of May 2010.
The Rock is Rolling (2011 –present)
The recording process went on very slow, with Blaakyum throwing few gigs here and there, which led to a conflict with Music Hall venue where Deaibess joined his old mate George to work as a regular house band performer. The conflict led to Deaibess leaving Music Hall by the end of May 2011 and from that time the recording process kicked off on a steady beat, and the band released its debut on January Friday the 13th, 2012. Following the release Blaakyum went on a performance frenzy, touring around the region and Europe, the tour was dubbed the "Night Lords" tour, which included Egypt (where the lead guitar was handled by Sevag Hadjian) , Lebanon and Europe, the Lebanese part of the tour, which is part of the main "Night Lords" tour, was dubbed "The First In Line" Lebanon tour, as Blaakyum once again were the first Metal band to ever tour Lebanon and not just perform in few venues in Beirut and Mount Lebanon were the scene is concentrated. During that time Elias Njeim was too busy with the foundation of his Music School that he had no more time to remain as an official member of the band and so had to quit. Mr. Rabih Deaibess (Bassem's brother) joined Blaakyum permanently right in. Within the European tour Blaakyum had a special Polish tour consisting of two dates, dubbed "Night Lords' Forbidden Metal" Sadly the Krakow event was cancelled due to the venue shutting down. Blaakyum ended it's Night Lords' Tour in Mount Lebanon, in the concert called Massacore, which was held in an abandoned school were a massacre happened at the end of the civil war, that concert caught the eye of some cheap journalists who claimed that it was a satanic gathering, this caused a lot of confusion in the society but this time Bassem Deaibess didn't stand still, he with the help of many prominent figures of the Lebanese Metal Scene lead a campaign to counter the lies of the Media, the campaign is ongoing as you read this.
During their tour and by the time it ended Blaakyum had already started writing new material for their second album. By the Summer of 2013 Blaakyum became ready to record a demo of the second album, and were announced to play on the main stage of MetalDays 2013 (previously MetalCamp) in Tolmin Slovenia. On their way they passed by Poland and were interviewed by one of the most prominent Polish radios: Polski Radio Trojka. Their performance in MetalDays was important, as a fangroup was created by Mr. Heinz from Austria, the fangroup gathered people from many nationalities and to the band's surprise it was able to gather a big amount of support where so many showed up to check and support the bands.
Wacken Open Air Metal Battle 2015
Blaakyum won the W:O:A Metal Battle Middle East and will be playing in the world finals on the stage of Wacken Open Air the biggest metal festival in the world.
Bassem Deaibess - Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Rany Battikh - Bass Guitar
Jad Feitrouni - Drums/Percussion
Rabih Deaibess - Lead Guitar