Spotlight on ABSOLACE: The UAE's Prog Rock Power Unit

The progressive rock/metal powerhouse that is Absolace has quickly become one of the most note-worthy acts on the Middle Eastern rock and metal circuit. Formed in 2008 by members Greg Gargopolous and Jack Skinner, Absolace has released 2 records so far. Fans and critics are equally loving what the band offers, with their unique blend of Tool-meets-Porcupine Tree, the band creates a tight, rhythmically centered sound that is truly their own.

Produced by the highly reputable, Jens Borgen; debut record Resolve[d] was sometimes compared to Tool by listeners; their latest release (Fractals) proves the quintet has a song writing agenda of their own, belting out some extremely infectious harmonies wrapped around a strong bass section. Drummer Greg Gargopolous is definitely one of the most diverse skinsmen to emerge from the middle eastern rock scene.

Founding member and guitarist, Jack Skinner, states:

"We aimed to keep similarities to the first album, but since it was an entire band effort there were also new ideas bought to the table. What we aimed for was to release an album as a whole this time, not just songs compiled together to form an album. The musical and lyrical themes explored on this album is based largely around the Chaos Theory and how it is presented in everyday life. 

Lyrically the Chaos Theory is explored from an observational perspective aswell as personal perspective. Musically, the strong emphasis on rhythm is a similarity with the first album – but a deeper sense of harmony, texture and dynamics was used with Fractals.

Fractals is a more rhythmically oriented album; providing some extremely memorable grooves. On songs like "Chroma Mera" (which was written on the spot during the recording process of the album) the band delves into some gothic harmonies that climb down your spine. Chroma Mera is one of my favorite songs off the record for its alternative metal tone, and subtle ambient vibe which ultimately gives more room for the bass to breathe.

"Chroma Mera was the last track written - it's Ben's baby, we were considering not including it for some reason - ended up being my favourite song on the album :)" Nadim Jamal - vocals.

The band's latest video for "I Am, So I Will" was directed by Cyril Eberle and includes some stunning visual effects that guitarist Jack Skinner states:

"We were just going for a dark/grainy texture which had all band members in it. The backdrop screens as you notice have certain images of smoke and ink in the water, references to the Chaos Theory concept behind the album."

ABSOLACE live at Gulf Bike Week 
with MEGADETH (2012).
About using a megaphone (familiar by many MUSE fans) in the video for "I Am, So I Will":

"Members of the band are fans of Muse (first 2 albums they did are banging!!) But we don’t take any influence from them in our writing. On the studio recordings of certain songs (e.g I Am, So I Will) there are certain effects on Nadim’s voice such as the famous “Telephone Filter” and distortion, the easiest way to recreate this live is simply to use a megaphone (hence the megaphone in the video.)"

ABSOLACE played a number of high profile shows over the years, including opening for Anathema and 30 Seconds to Mars (both in Lebanon) as well as performing with heavy metal icons, MEGADETH, on their stop in Dubai last year. Jack elaborates on his experience visiting Lebanon:

"There is nothing better than playing a live show in general, but when you get to go to a beautiful new country and play a live show you really do feel lucky – in my opinion, getting to travel and see new countries, people, buildings, food etc and playing guitar is my favourite thing on the planet (the more I can do it the better!) I know I can speak for the rest of the band when saying that Lebanon is an extremely special place for all of us (not just because Nadim is from there) but it has so much character and charisma about it. A vivid memory of our trips for those gigs are A) Standing onstage opening up for 30 Seconds To Mars while stood next to the sea at sunset – Really didn’t want to leave. B) Bumping into the Anathema guys in the airport the next day was pretty funny."

"We’re happy to play anywhere that would have us. I think Greg would love to do a gig in his home country Greece just as all of us want to play in our home countries. We’d love to see the cities in Europe and personally for me, I would love to go to Brazil more than anything for a gig. Like I mentioned earlier, just going to a new country with different cultures, people, food, buildings, climates is a real experience and I want to experience as many of those as possible."

Even though the band has performed in a number of locations in the region, they still face the same issues many regional acts encounter, such as limited touring.

"I think the largest problem of this regions scene is unfortunately there is a small touring circuit. In order for a band to make money and gain more exposure, touring is necessary. And the closest touring circuits are Asia and Europe (which are not far) but a large majority of the regular gig goers (particularly in Europe) are not familiar with the Middle East’s metal/ rock scene. Changes within a community? I’d say as long as bands are getting paid for their live performances while the promoters are making money, hopefully this will see an influx of bands going to new countries and performing to new crowds knowing that even if they don’t make money, at least they will not be losing money."

Absolace draws influence from a wide variety of musical acts from inside and outside the progressive rock and metal realm, such as Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Tool, and A Perfect Circle; which helps the band create an aural sound they can uniquely call their own.

"In respects to our writing, we try and think and play like Absolace (especially since we’re trying to represent 2 sides of music – one being the calculated mathematical rhythmical approach and the other touching on the more emotional soundscapes and ambience."

What many fans don't know is that the band for 3 months were about to call it a day, due to line-up changes. With bassist Ben Harris leaving the UAE, as well as guitarist Jack Skinner planning to return to the UK, the band was about to officially disband, until things started to change. Front man Nadim Jamal tells us:

"For about 3 months we were about to disband because our bassist had temporarily left the country and Jack was planning to move back to the UK. We announced that Jack was out of the band, then Ben announced that he wasn't planning to return anytime soon, and Greg and I decided we'd call it quits unless something changed. Luckily things did - Jack decided he'd stick around! It was only last week that Ben announced that he'd be moving back in the summer. So we're a band again. We're going to get cracking with some writing and planning gigs as soon as our bass slapping brother from another mother is back."

Absolace continues to provide a stronger progressive level of song writing to the current rock scene in the UAE and Middle East, breaking away from any formulated song structures to please a certain demographic. The band's journey is truly inspiring; we can't wait to see what they have in-store for fans next!

"As long as there is a passion and love in what you’re doing, keep it up, work hard and don’t lose focus on your goals. Oh, and personal practice too :)" Jack Skinner.

Pick up a copy of "Fractals" now by clicking here.

Make sure to visit ABSOLACE online:

[Questions by: Moe Ezz and Kareem Chehayeb]
[Article by: Moe Ezz]

[Ed note: This feature was supposed to be posted months ago, we would like to apologize to the band for this delay and sincerely thank them for being so understanding.] -Moe

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