Think of alt-rock and metal and Beirut isn’t the first place that comes to mind. The Kordz are an alternative rock band formed in the 90s by students from the University of Beirut. They have toured Lebanon tirelessly since then supporting major acts like Deep Purple and Robert Plant. Apart from a single release in 2003 they have released just one full-length album in this time and it deserves to be heard in Europe and farther afield.
What is immediately striking is the similarity between Moe Hamzeh‘s voice and that of the late Layne Staley. The Kordz incorporate aspects of Arabian music into their rock/metal mix utilising traditional instrumentation. They sound like a Middle Eastern Alice in Chains. As someone who never really bought into Alice in Chains I found “The Beauty and the East” a little hard-going on first listen. Subsequently, I have grown to appreciate it much more. The Eastern-tinged melodies and harmonies are very effective and make this music sound fresh despite the slightly hackneyed alt-rock stylings.
The lyrical subject matter is heavily influenced, as one would imagine, by the experiences of the individual members of the band living through a troubled time in their nation’s history. While the political message is proclaimed loud and clear the sentiments do not mire the listener in a worthy history lesson. The overriding atmosphere is one of inclusivity, humanity and good old rock and roll rebellion.
If you’re in the market for a solid rock album with that extra spice that you won’t have heard before you should give this band your attention. They’ve worked hard for it.