Creative Waste “Slaves to Conformity” Review + Interview
We are only in April and it has been great year so far for grindcore fans – the return of nasum, a new killer album from Napalm Death and now you can add one more thing to the list, the release of the long awaited album from the Saudi Arabia’s only grindcore band, Creative Waste.
The band gets down to business from the first track itself, “Divide and Conquer“. Anyone who has spent some time in Saudi Arabia or its neighbouring countries will be able to relate to songs like “Kingdom of Fear” and “Slaves to Conformity”. One of my favourite songs on the album is “Cradle to the Grave” which features Kevin Talley (Six Feet Under, Daath) on drums. The track is an example of how much the band has matured as musicians since their first release. “Novus Ordo Seclorum” is another track that features Kevin. “Defeatist“, a preview track that was released last year sounds a lot more brutal with the beefier production. “Ahfad Qabeel” or “Descendants of Cain” is the first grindcore song in Arabic (as far as I know) and it sounds great. The album clocks in at just over 30 minutes and i am sure you will hit the repeat button after listening to it for the first time.
Creative Waste have spent a couple of years recording “Slaves to Conformity” and it has been worth the wait. The production of the album is great especially the drums which has a punch to it. Talal is easily the top death metal drummer in the Arabian Gulf and Middle East region. I’ve been following Creative Waste since they released their first demo/ EP in 200 and they have evolved as a band. This album could be one that establishes them as a great grindcore band rather than as “a grindcore band from Saudi Arabia”.
Check out my interview with Essam from Creative Waste below
Congrats on the release of your debut album “Slaves to Conformity”. How do you feel now that its finally out?
Essam Thanks! It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted. This has been in the making for a long time and we’re just glad it’s finally out there.
The album has been in the making for a couple years, what was the reason/s behind the delay?
Essam We wanted our debut album to sound the best it possibly can so we had to go through some unconventional means to get that done. Since Talal, our drummer, was studying in the US and we refused to use a drum machine or drumming software, we went ahead and tasked Kevin Talley to assist us in the development of the record and the overall recording of the drums. Talal flew out to DC and laid down the drum tracks. Talley was also kind enough to lend his drumwork to two tracks written by Fawaz. Other problems, including my terrible work schedule, interfered with the process.
How long was the recording process for the album?
Essam 3 years. We started preparing for this album sometime in 2009. Coming up with the budget and organizing the workflow of the recording process took the most time. Piecing the album together was a relatively quick process and we got mixing support from Chris Leamy, a producer who happened to be in Riyadh at the time and contacted us through MySpace.
Tell us a bit about the album, what was the inspiration behind it?
Essam A lot of these songs were written a very long time ago and we’ve performed them live on several occasions. It’s the culmination of all of our influences streamlined into a single vision. We didn’t want to release a by-the-numbers grindcore album and we also didn’t want to deviate too far from the genre and its influences. There’s so little room for innovation and experimentation in a genre like this that we decided that we should focus on writing an album that we, ourselves, would want to hear. Catchy riffs, powerful hooks, breakneck blast beats, all of these aspects of our style originate from one place or another but rarely do you see them incorporated into a single song so seamlessly. I believe it’s what we do best.
How does the album compare to the 2 EPs you have released earlier?
Essam I believe we’ve achieved what it was we were always looking for, finding our sound, something we’ve been talking about endlessly during the makeshift recording of Colonies and Cruelty. We were still learning as we went along and there’s always more to learn from any recording process. You can tell how much we’ve progressed since then and that has always been our goal.
A couple tracks on the album feature Kevin Talley (Six Feet Under, Daath) on drums, how did you get in contact with him?
Essam Fawaz wrote some riffs one time while listening to a Kevin Talley YouTube video where Talley was recording drums for Misery Index’s “Defector” and it clicked so well that he decided to rip the audio and record the guitar track on top of Talley’s drumming. A close friend of the band (Ahmed Al-Mustafa) encouraged him to send it to Talley but eventually took it upon himself to contact Talley through Facebook. Kevin was awesome enough to respond and was interested in pursuing the collaboration but didn’t have a workable version of “Defector” on drums so they decided to work on original material instead. One thing led to another and he ended up helping us produce the album.
Creative Waste is the only grindcore band from Saudi Arabia, how did you first come across grindcore music?
Essam It was a very interesting discovery, to say the least, and it dates back to 2001 when we were your typical teenage Korn apologists. We were always in pursuit of the most aggressive music in its rawest form and we were a bunch of dumb kids with very little experience in music. As the years passed, we started delving deeper into more extreme forms of Metal starting with Cannibal Corpse and Cryptopsy and eventually Napalm Death. Personally, it was Nasum that did me in. To this day, I attribute most of my songwriting in Creative Waste to Nasum. The unpredictable nature of the song structure is something I carry with me to this day, no matter what project it is I’m working on. The sheer energy just blew us away and we wanted to emulate that sound to the best of our abilities.
Last year, you did a mini tour of the US with gigs in New York, Texas and the Maryland Deathfest. What was the experience like?
Essam It was a surreal experience. Never have we played our music to fans who can understand the nuances of our work. They just get it, man. The crowd went nuts when we got on and that’s ultimately when I felt like our work was really cut out for us. We’ve always put playing live shows into consideration when writing music for Creative Waste and the payoff is always fun to watch. Also, I can’t really speak for Maryland Deathfest since my job interfered with my chance to play there (never again) so I’ll have Fawaz discuss that.
Fawaz: It was one of the best experiences ever! You feel like you’re where you’re supposed to be. Everyone over there was super friendly, we got to meet so many awesome people that showed nothing but love and respect for what we do. Everything about it from the audience and the atmosphere to the merch tables, probably one of the only places I can find almost any record or shirt I’m looking for. We spent almost all the money we made off our shirts and cds that we sold on the merch. Not to mention the great bands that we got to share the same stage with. It’s just hard to describe how good we felt there, it feels like we can’t experience that easily anywhere else. The best part was, knowing we’re the first band from our country to play there, and there were no other arabs over there which made us feel more important haha. Definitely one of the biggest steps that we’ve taken for our band and would be more than glad to do it again sometime.
What are your plans for 2012?
Essam Play as many shows as we possibly can and promote the shit out of “Slaves to Conformity”.
Any Final words.
Essam Thanks to everyone for supporting Saudi music and grindcore in a place where such a thing is ignorantly deemed satanic and inhumane. We just love to write music that’ll give you permanent nosebleeds. And thank you for this interview!
Stream/Download “Slaves to Conformity” here