Dusk are the oldest metal band in Pakistan and founder Babar Sheikh has seen the band through changes in line ups and also musical directions. Last week, Cyclopean Eye productions released ‘Through Corridors of Dead Centuries‘, a split album featuring Dusk and Indian death doomsters Dying Embrace. I spoke to Babar Sheikh about their latest release and their future plans.
Where did the idea to do the split come about? Did Sandesh from Cyclopean Eye productions have anything to do with it?
Dusk has always been open to the idea of collaborating with other acts and performers from the genre. Its been a great pleasure for us to be associated with some very celebrated names of the underground scene through our career. I guess it comes more naturally as an idea to people who have been associated with the true underground scene for the past two decades or so because back in the day splitting a record was the thing to do even being on compilation tapes was the cult thing to do! Dying Embrace for us have been brothers and partners in crime as far as the Sub Continental metal scene is concerned. Both Dusk and Dying Embrace have existed since the mid or early 1990’s (actually Dying Embrace are seniors) and this really was a dream come true for me. Both bands had somehow gone toward a more dormant mode since the past few years, Dusk decided to hit it back with our trademark Death / Doom sound and Dying Embrace were gearing up on releasing some of their previously unreleased stuff and at the same time incubating the idea of recording fresh material and this was the time when the hammer struck. The carrier of the hammer was none other than Sandesh Shenoy, long time friend, metal brother, fellow warrior in the underground arts, and now label owner for Asian Metal Underground Label – Cyclopean Eye Productions. I would give a lot of credit to Sandesh for helping Dusk realise the journey back to the trademark Death / Doom sound and full credit for making the split record killer idea a reality. It was really him (since the past two years Sandesh has also been managing Dusk and Dying Embrace) who pumped both the bands to a point where inspiration was sighted and finally it got Real!
Tell us a bit about the songs your side of the split. What are they about?
The songs on the split, as I mentioned before are a comeback for Dusk to our older sound, the sound which the underground associated with us so it was lots of memories coming back to the writing phases and right from the preliminary stages of the song writing I knew what I was wanting to achieve and how the songs would sound like at the end. The themes around which the lyrical content is based are also heavy like the sound itself. The opening track Shadow Poet speaks about the silent observer who lurks in the shadows of everyday life and paints a portrait of perceptions based upon his gatherings of life and reality. This is the solitary traveller who appeared earlier in Dusk lyrics sometimes as The Tragedian and sometimes as the habitat of the Fortress Of Solitude. Forged in the Fires of Duality is a heavier theme which taunts at society and splits in the face of those who live by their double standards, the content goes further to comment upon the addictition of power and the love for material possessions, something that has driven humankind away from their natural habitat – The Soul! For the end of the record we wanted to create a drone like tune or melody that would repeat itself, actually the time spent between recording the last track on the record ‘For Majestic Nights’ and the rest of the material is almost an entire year, and the more I listened to the other tracks the more I felt the need to have a definitive album closer which finally took form. Lyrically there is just a few lines which praises ‘The Night’ for being the time with higher spiritual expanse and power! However sound wise I believe we really found something special with this tune, many people who know the previous Dusk records will know that we never sounded this way but I believe this is one of the new sides to Dusk that we will further explore in the future.
The songs on the split release move into the direction of Doom metal compared to Thrash metal on your previous release. Any reason behind the shift in direction?
After we released our EP titled Dead Heart Dawning in 2006 (and a release on the three way split titled Rise of the Eastern Blood) Dusk was unknowingly moving into unexplored waters. This was also a very special time for me as an artist and musician since I joined Asian giant metal band Impiety and partially recorded with them for their Formidonis record. During this time I met fellow Impiety band mate and drummer Halim (Tremor) who agreed to join Dusk and together we wanted to jam some tunes that had more leaning towards the eighties thrash and death movement. Primarily this was a homage to more primitive sounding death thrash that made its mark from South America in the 1980s. Our toying around with these sounds got more and more serious and before we knew it we recorded 5 – 6 songs that we released with fellow Asian Crust / Punk / Thrash legends Distrust on a split record titled Eastern Assault. This was released by Pakistan’s only extreme metal label GMH Records. After the release of Eastern Assault things simmered down for Dusk and I got a sense of perspective, I realised this was good for a one off release (and believe me we gained some great fands by short lived 4 year Death/Thrash era) but Dusk will always be associated with tunes that made a mark from our earlier records. Sound wise a lot also changed a lot in the studio this time around when we recorded for the split. In the past it was more like a pattern but this time it felt more like a full blown production. During the death/thrash era I denounced lot of fancy gadgetry and gear and moved more toward the primitive approach for recording and of course that sensibility came along with me when I recorded the songs for the split. I feel the sound has much more body to it. Our engineer and my co producer Mr KK Wong (Ah Boy) a legend from Singapore’s underground movement really hit it home as far as the production and sound for the new Dusk is concerned. Tremor had never played drums for a doom record before (since when he joined Dusk we were already playing faster) so that was a great experience and I am happy that everything falls well into place at the end. The only part where one can catch a glimpse of the death/thrash era of Dusk on this split is our cover for the legendary Motorhead tune Bomber. This is where we blast everything into oblivion!
What are you plans for the rest of 2014?
Cyclopean Eye Productions just released the Dusk / Dying Embrace split titled ‘Through Corridors of Dead Centuries’ at Doom Over Bangalore II last weekend. I am sure the next few months we will hear much more of what comes as feedback. Looking forward to that! Unfortunately Dusk has not been the luckiest when it comes to live performances, as we were set to take the stage at the Ventbox fest in Singapore but due to personal and logistic reasons we had to cancel our appearance a month before the festival took place. But we are geared up on making some surprise appearances in festivals before the end of the year hopefully. Already starting to write new material for Dusk with long time collaborator and band mate Tremor however at this point I have no idea whether this will be another split or an Ep or a full length!
Any Final words?
Don’t follow trends – stay true to your art since this is what will help you survive and help you make your mark in the underground! Rock n Roll Thunder!
Listen to a track from Dusk’s side of the split below
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