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Lagrima (November 2012)

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    Posted: 05 Nov 2012 at 6:54pm

Lagrima

 


If a blend of black and death metal with some classical influence sounds intriguing to you, then you should give Lebanese band Lagrima some attention.  After around a decade of activity, Lagrima has recently released their debut album "Hannibal Ad Portas", which can be downloaded for free here.  I contacted Tarek Yazbek, the only original member remaining in the band, and he gladly answered my questions regarding his band.

 _____________________________________________________________________________

A Google search of the word "lagrima" gives a spanish-to-English translation as "tear" or "teardrop".  What inspired you to use this word as a band name?


TAREK YAZBEK : The inspiration for the band's name came actually from a Spanish guitar piece by the famous composer Francisco Tarrega ( 1885 –1909 ) named "Lagrima" , and I actually liked its meaning and how the word sounded. So it became my choice for the band's name, also there would be a little history or story behind the band's name.

 

According to your bio, Lagrima formed in 2003.  Could you go into some detail about the band's history leading up to the recording of your new album  Hannibal Ad Portas?


TAREK YAZBEK : Before Lagrima I had another band named "Enormity" actually, we mostly played covers for Metallica, Sepultura, Death. Even I composed two albums in that band but nothing was actually recorded, that band project was put aside because of the big musical difference between the band members. After that I started working on a new band project around 2000 - 2001, with new songs and new style of composing.  That's when I started working on "Hannibal Ad Portas" and at the same time looking for band members which was completed in 2003, but after 3 month or so, the band started having member changing which was a big step back for the band.

 We first changed the drummer, and it's really hard to get a really good drummer in Lebanon. Then we finally got a great drummer after trying 3 or 4 and during that time we also changed our bassist, also couple of times, until we found a real good bassist (he is now the lead guitarist of the Lebanese band 'Innerguilt"). Also we had at that time a lead guitar player (after having couple of other lead guitarists). Problems started again (talking here around 2005), for every one wanted to orient the band to a different direction and even to turn the band into a cover band. The final result was that I broke the band up turning it into a one man band (during this time I was composing the second album of the band) and asking the help of our lead guitar player, Hany AL-Hassan, to add some solos to the songs and introducing me at that time to his friend, Bilal Al-Aghar, to do the vocal works on the songs and he agreed.

 Recording started at that time on the guitars and drums (there are earlier recordings of the album done in crappy ways actually) and Bilal would join me later to record the vocals while Hanny didn't record the lead parts for the songs (for personal reasons), even Bilal at that time didn't record any vocals (the reason was the lousy acoustics in the room in which we were recording) - during that time (2005 - 2006 ) was composing music for the third album for the band.

 In 2006 or 2007 I was introduced to another vocalist, Nabil Raad, who actually recorded the whole vocals lines of the albums except for "Death of the Father ... Saguntum" which was left without any vocals.  Another year or two would pass until I decided to call Bilal again in 2009 since I liked the way he re-arranged the way the lyrics are sung and he accepted and I re-recorded the album another time with a better quality ( and re-recorded it again in 2011 - which is the current released version ).

The whole album was home recorded, for the vocals we used a very cheap microphone.  For the guitars, I used an amt SS-20 tube pre-amp with an eq pedal.  The bass is recorded  with Line 6 UX1, and finally the drumming is done with software (During that time starting 2010 till 2012, me and Bilal worked on two full albums, and currently starting to work on another). We tried to find a label to release the album, but we couldn't find one ... Until this year, we decided to freely release the album on the net for it has been sitting in our drawer for a long time ... It took me a long time but many circumstances prevented me from making a release especially the recording quality and finding members to record. 


How about the lyric themes on the album.  Were the lyrics handled by Bilal or did you write them?

TAREK YAZBEK : When Bilal joined the band the lyrics were already written, but he re-arranged some of the lyrics on some of the songs, he also moved lyrics to some parts of the songs that initially were without lyrics like on the last part of "Abhore the Antagonists". And he is great when it comes to vocal arrangements, he twists and bends things and makes the vocal parts sound better and greater than they originally sounded. That's our strategy now in writing the lyrics: I choose the theme, write the lyrics (in quartets mostly) and Bilal just puts his magic touch on the arrangements and would also change some the words to his liking.


As for the lyrical theme on this album, I chosen the Story of the Carthegean general "Hannibal Barca" and his wars with the Romans during the third century B.C.  I'm a big fan of ancient history and mythology especially the middle eastern one, which will be the fuel for the lyrics in the coming albums also.  Back to 'Hannibal Ad Portas" what
I tried to do is to write an album in a form of a story.  That's why you have a little repetition in the riffs, just to give the mood that there is a theme and story going on, with the music emphesizing the lyrical or the mood of the story.


Your style has been listed as both black and death metal on both your Myspace and Facebook page.  After listening to the album a few times, I'm unsure which element is a stronger part of your sound.  How do you think both styles of metal play into Lagrima's sound?

TAREK YAZBEK : Well for me composing music is "You compose what you play".  In other words, if you play different genres of music and they all inspire you, your composing will be a mix of all those styles you play. Initially, I was more death metal oriented, but gradually started listing to black metal, especially melodic black metal. Other styles are also present like heavy and speed metal, with the classic guitar style of playing is also a big influence on our music. All of those styles mixed together to give the unique sound of Lagrima.


Where did the name of the album come from, and how does it relate to the illustration on the album cover?

TAREK YAZBEK : The phrase "Hannibal Ad Portas" means "Hannibal at the Gates", a sentence used by the Romans after they lost the battle of "Cannie" which was a big defeat , and they lost most of their army in that battle. "Hannibal" could have occupied the city, or at least put it under siege, but for an unknown reason he never went for the city. As for the illustration, which is designed by my wife (Maria Kerj), it has a more modern metal look than an ancient look if you want, representing Hannibal seated on a horse with war elephants in the background giving it an epic look. So, its more an artist point of view and how she liked to represent it.

 

Aside from black and death metal, I can hear passages on the album with doom, folk, and symphonic elements among other things.  What were some of the artists that inspired the direction of Hannibal Ad Portas or whom have otherwise been an inspiration to you? 

TAREK YAZBEK : I first started listing to heavy metal bands like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, so they were the early influences for me. Then I started listing to other genres like death and black metal (bands like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Old Man's Child, At the Gates, Death, Edge of Sanity to name a few).  Also, I play classic finger techniques which is also a huge part of my influence. Gradually mixing all of these elements to create my own sound or style. There is no direct influence but lots and lots of indirect one, plus the story line played a major role in shaping the sound, like in the intro of "Death of the Father ... Saguntum" where Hannibal's father died, you have an elegy part which starts with  a sad desperate clean part, then progress into a doom like riff, in this case you can't compose as fast death or black metal riff.


You are credited as the only instrumentalist on the album.  Did this approach have any challenges or did it just make the process more straightforward?

TAREK YAZBEK : When I started the composing of the album, I was a lone member, and even after I had a complete line up , I continued composing alone because I was the only creative member in the band until Bilal joined in. He is the only person that I feel comfortable composing with. We have the same chemistry, are very close tastes in music which makes it easier for us to compose together and not argue or fight a lot (we have our moments), but that's normal in composing.

As for the composing "Hannibal Ad Portas" that was a big challenge, and proved to be difficult also, especially when you have a story in the lyrics. So, composing was not smooth at all (both for music and lyrics), but the end result came great I guess.


Since recording Hannibal Ad Portas, you have added a bass player to the band (Hussain Soufan).  What do you see as the next step for Lagrima? 

TAREK YAZBEK : What we are considering now is going live, but having a problem finding a really good drummer to relay on and don't want to use drum machines in live show. That's the logical next step for us. Hopefully doing some live shows outside Lebanon too, to bring some attention for the band and the release.


Lastly, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.  Is there anything else you'd like to mention?


TAREK YAZBEK : Firstly I would like to thank you for this interview, and would like to thank all of our friends and fans who have supported us.

 

Lagrima's Metal Music Archives profile can be found here.

 

Lagrima official links:

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/lagrima1978

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lagrima.band.lebanon

Reverb Nationhttp://www.reverbnation.com/lagrima

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote renkls Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Nov 2012 at 3:13am
Good interview, I'll check out his stuff.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Nov 2012 at 3:13am
Nice! a Lebanese artist. We donīt see that often in metal.
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