Interview With Mohammad Bailouni (COAT OF ARMS)

UAE/Qatar based groove metallers, COAT OF ARMS, released their 3rd full length album "Sun & Satellites" back in January to rave reviews from fans and critics alike, praising the release for its modern sensibility and powerful groove sections.

The album was recorded between the UAE and Qatar, where members of the band reside, while mixing and mastering duties were handled by Volumes guitarist, Diego Farias, in L.A. who provides an exceptional sound for the album.

Frontman/guitarist, Mohammad Bailouni, is currently busy mixing other projects in his home studio in Doha, Qatar; I got a chance to catch-up with him via email to discuss Sun & Satellites; working with Diego Farias; his thoughts on the local scene, among other topics.

Read on, and while you're at it; play the band's new album as you delve into this interview:

Thanks a lot for this opportunity, it's been sometime since we last caught up, how's everything at COAT OF ARMS? 

Yes, it has been long overdue but we’re happy to be back. We’re all in different countries right now, so the last couple of weeks have been a little jet-lag inducing, but in general the last 3 months have been truly amazing so we can’t complain.

The band recently released its latest studio album, titled "Sun & Satellites" to rave reviews. Can you tell us about the album and the subjects it centers around?

“Sun & Satellites” is basically the band’s attempt to try and do something different to what we’ve ever done before. There are probably a million and one reasons why this album is unique to any of our earlier releases, but I think the main one would be the length of time taken to write everything. I think there was about 13 months between the time we finished the first and last song, and I think it was that little extra time we took to reflect on each song that gave us some room to shape them properly. It also let us cut out a lot of songs we thought would make the record. We had close to 40 songs written in total, but only 8 (with a couple of interludes) made the final list.

I think the subjects that stem from the album come from the music. The music is always written first, and then I pen out lyrics I feel suit the song, which is usually the hardest part. I would say that musically, the whole album has this other-worldly feel to it, either in an expansive or reclusive sense. So the main themes will either fall into one of those two categories. It’s either based on analytical-type concepts such as self-actualization, post-reflection, sociological, and even at times identifying-purpose. All the songs propose some sort of discussion, as opposed to a statement, that I feel had to be made. Whereas our last release “This is Manslaughter” asked a lot of questions, I think “Sun & Satellites” basically answers my views on them. Each song is drenched in themes I could talk about for days, but the album overall covers subjects that are basically larger than life.

We've been absolutely loving the release; it's definitely one of the best modern metal offerings out of the region this year. It's very apparent that the album was written intricately. Are you happy with the end result? 

Thank you very much, that means so much if you consider some of the releases that have come out this year. As a band I don’t think we could be happier with the result, and it’s the first time we all feel that we have created something worthy of calling an achievement, in terms of musical creation. We made sure that the whole album was done as best as it could have been so that there were literally no regrets when it went out. We don’t have any regrets about it and the response has been overwhelming. I think the weirdest moment for us was that about 2 days after the streaming-release, our record had leaked onto almost every torrent site we know from the states to Europe and Russia, and back! That definitely made us a little prouder, and a little poorer.

You worked with VOLUMES guitarist Diego Farias on the album's production. How did the collaboration come about? 

I messaged Diego really early on in the writing process and sent him 2-3 instrumentals of songs we had already started writing. I think I sent him over a raw version of “Black Holes” and 2 other songs that eventually didn’t make the cut. He got back to me explaining that he was really interested but because of his touring schedule, he wouldn’t be able to get round to it for almost 6-8 months. In a weird way that suited us because we wanted to take as much time as we needed to write. After we sent him the first song, it took us about another 4 months to get the whole record done.

Working with Diego was brilliant because he is a fantastic producer as well as an unbelievable musician. He doesn’t only work on metal projects, he does about every genre you can think of, which makes him hear the song the way it should be. The songs structures were untouched by him, but Diego basically worked his magic on highlighting or attenuating the sections of songs he thought were stand out. He is super easy to work with because of his enthusiasm for music, and he’s one of the most legit guys you will find in the industry, believe me. You’ll see a lot of top notch bands coming out with releases done by him later this year, but I won’t say which, because he is amazing at what he does. We have discussed doing our next release with him, whenever that may be, purely because of how easy the working relationship turned out to be.

How long did the writing/recording process take?

I think it took just over a year to write everything. It then took about 2 months to track everything, because we were living in different countries, and then it took about 4 months for Diego to finish the whole record in between all his touring.

What was the gear used to record the album? 

We used a bunch of stuff to track the album because we switch between 6 and 7 string guitars for different songs. This was the first album where we opted to use 7 string, even though the idea had been thrown around during our last release. We ended up using it on this album because we felt the riffs suited a lower tuning. So for the 7 string guitars we used our Ibanez RG1527 Prestige’s, which we installed with Bare Knuckle Pickups on. The pickups themselves sounded fantastic, and at times you wouldn’t think that passive pickups could sound that good. For the 6 string songs we switched between our Fender FMT Telecasters with Seymour Duncans, to my old Ibanez SA32EX that also have Bare Knuckle Pickups on. Liam used his 5 string Cort and the Paul Grey Slipknot signature Ibanez bass for 4 string songs.

We re-amped all the guitars with an Axe-Fx Ultra, and for some of the leads we used Waves GTR3. We literally exhausted every option for the guitar tones to make sure we got a signature tone that suited the songs. Getting the right guitar tone was probably the most time-consuming thing on the whole album, but I think we got a killer tone for the final product. The tone doesn’t sound djenty and retains a lot of the feel you get with metalcore, but somehow blends the two together, which ideally mirrored the writing so I think we got it spot on.

What's your opinion on the current middle eastern metal scene as a whole? Do you think the region's talent is receiving the attention they deserve for the hard work they put into their music from the general public and mainstream media?

To be completely truthful, I think the middle-eastern scene is one of the most complicated scenes in the world purely because of the motives and stereotypes that come with the genre of music. You have the typical case in each Middle-Eastern country whereby the music is completely unaccepted by the general public, making it impossible to organize events and shows without creating some kind of controversy. That inevitably makes it even harder for the talent to spread and be appreciated by the local fan-base. It also leads to a lot of local bands going completely under the radar of local fans because fans simply don’t know these bands exist.

The main problem is that this puts all the pressure onto the band to instantly succeed. The gear, shows, recordings, studio and jamming time are expenses that are totally covered by the band, which is quite expensive because of the nature of the middle-eastern economy. You then get young kids with real talent who eventually give up because they can’t deal with the costs because they don’t work. Then you working adults who conform to the scenes’ pressure and produce the same generic and out-dated music everybody else does, just so that they can spring board their way to the top. I think that’s why the scene, as a whole, suffers from not having a lot of bands with melody or who don’t play death or black metal, basically bands lacking originality. I’m not saying those genres are unoriginal, but when 90% of the scene does it, the scene becomes unoriginal and one dimensional. Small minorities of the scene are broadminded about music and take the time to appreciate the novelty other bands are trying to do. I just don’t think the scene has reached a point where this has transcended down to a majority of the fans. When that does happen, I think you’ll start to see a lot of bands who move away from sounding generic to producing truly original music. You’ll also see a much stronger network and support between bands which will help change the general public’s view about the music. That’s what we’ve already tried to do as a band, and we don’t always get received with open ears, but I think a lot of people respect that we do try to something different to everything else out there.

Thanks again for your time, we can't wait for more COAT OF ARMS, and hope to see you guys live soon! Would you like to add anything?

If anybody out there already hasn’t checked out our new release “Sun & Satellites” you can stream, download, and purchase it online from We should be playing a string of shows towards summer and the beginning of September, so hope to see you guys out there!

COAT OF ARMS online:


"Sun & Satellites" is available for streaming/purchase here.

For more information on the track "Notes & Chords" which was featured on our latest compilation (Volume 3: Global Waves of Destruction) click here.

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Moe E.

"Moe is the head admin/editor at He's currently hating the weekly wait for new episodes of Game of Thrones."

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