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Digla: Free Your Mind
No matter how many times it’s been said, it’s still worth repeating: living in discombobulated Cairo is paradoxical and overwhelming. You love it. You hate it. The metropolis chews you up and spends you, yet when it spits you out it has sculpted you into a stronger person. Local band Digla’s diatribe and ode to coming-of-age, loving and living by the Nile is mature beyond the collective age of the band’s members. Their polished and shiny snapshots contrast perfectly with the grit of the city, and in them you won’t be sharing misery– Digla deals with despair by rejoicing on their debut album, Free Your Mind.
Consumed by failed relationships and living at odds with the city, the band’s strongest urge is to get through and be fully understood. ’All to Lose‘ begins with a story and ends with a speech, and just to make sure the message gets delivered, the title track daintily chants the album’s mantra ‘Life is too short/ You got no time/Reconcile and free your mind.’ All these sentiments are summed up brilliantly on the track 'Highlights' with folksy ease. Wistfully humming ‘Ya leily ya leil’ between his poetic images, lead singer and songwriter Tarek El Borollossy wins you over effortlessly.
Recorded in 2006, Free Your Mind is a representation of the band’s essence as opposed to its sound. The band was formed back in 2001 by El Borollossy and Omar Raafat, and they recorded Free Your Mind with the aid of session musicians and friends. Today, two other members complete the outfit.
Free Your Mind has some rich arrangements and benefits from great production value; the songs sound extremely crisp coming out of your stereo. However, the songwriting stands out the most. With the imagination of a surrealist and the raptness of a storyteller, Digla crafts songs that, in their own words, ‘point out things you've only seen before’.
Digla is an excellent band on Egyptian standards, but unfortunately, Free Your Mind doesn’t rise above this barometer. It’s a good record that deservers your time, but mostly due to the friends and enemies that you share. That being said; Digla may not be so far off from giving us an album that stands on its own on international standards. They most definitely have the talent and the ambition, they just need to come into their own.
Album opener ‘San Angeles’ will get feet moving and booties shaking, but the rest of the album is decidedly more post-rock oriented. The influences of Pink Floyd only really make a grand appearance on psychedelic tune ‘Lunar Drift’, with its spooky synths and echoing bass line.
‘The Eliminator’ takes the listener back to the eighties again, as the repetitive electronic beat that is used sounds a lot like the 8-bit sounds that were the backdrop for many early eighties video games. Imagine the aforementioned desert wasteland turning 8-bit coloured.
The eighties also dominate in the strummed intro to ‘Martin Rev’, evoking memories of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. You’d almost think the guys of Maserati had wished they were making music a few decades ago.
Having released no new material for almost a decade, Metallica finally return to the scene with their latest album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. Written mostly by James Hatfield and Lars Ulrich, this is the first album that doesn’t include any song writing contributions from Kirk Hammett since he joined the band in 1983; when the album was being written, he lost his phone in a Copenhagen airport which included 250 riff ideas so he had to start from scratch.
The two disk album has 12 tracks in total with 6 on each that still retain the thrash metal vibe that Metallica has come to be known for. Following the same fast pace, the first song ,‘Hardwired’ starts with a steady drum and guitar riff that will get you head banging and tapping your feet in no time.
With strong songs like ‘Moth into Flame’ and ‘Halo on Fire’, the first disk has the familiar thrash tropes that make it what it is; it’s fast, it’s hard, it’s in your face and has an attitude, which is what makes Metallica so awesome.
However, the first disk is not without fault; the fifth song ‘Dream No More’ feels out of place musically as its rhythm and guitar work doesn’t feel cohesive with the rest of the songs on the disk, as if it was supposed to be on a different disk or in another album as it goes from fast then slow and conflicting itself.
The second disk, on the other hand, starts on a different note with songs like ’Am I Savage?’ and ‘Here Comes Revenge’ following a slower tone than the rest of the album, though ’Spit out the Bone’ might be the fastest song on the whole album and will surely make you feel like you need to catch your breath afterwards.
As a whole, the album sounds like one huge song, especially the first disk which feels fluid and, in a way, follows a rhythmic pattern; however, the second feels a bit tamed and toned down, as even though it has some fast-as-lighting guitar work, it still lacks some oomph to it. Still, it offers a level of satisfaction for diehard fans who have waited for eight years for new material.
All in all, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is a great addition to the band’s discography; the band members have given it their all, while not showing their age. We just hope it doesn’t take them another eight years till the next one