Album Review: Wled el Balad – “Wled el Balad”

Heyyyy… it’s been a while, internet. How’ve you been?

 Now let’s get down to business.

 This one came out late-December. It is the first release from the band, which consists of Mohammad Hodeib and Ashley Chokeir on vocals, Saad Malaeb on guitar, Mahmoud Ramdan on bass, and Hussam Elias on drums, a 6-track demo.

I have only seen the band live once, and they were pretty good. Not “WOWOWOWOW” good, but definitely above average, which is why I had some good expectations for this. But somehow it fell short of completely meeting them.

 Overall, I liked the lyrics penned by Mohammad Hodeib. They’re sarcastic and make good use of figurative language, not all of them though, like the song “Rawa2”, which narrates a story pretty straightforward. I’d like to make a side-note here: Has anyone noticed the overwhelming number of alternative Arabic-language artists whose lyrics fit the descriptions: “Sarcastic”, “Ironic”, “Surreal”, or “Critical”? Hell, Michelle Keserwany’s whole body of work is based on this. Don’t get me wrong, those are my favorite kinds of lyrics, but it’s almost like that’s the standard now. Like if you write in Arabic, but not cynically and vaguely, you’re just another no-substance pop star. I’m sure “Rawa2” has all the kinds of symbolism and implications that other songs have, but it doesn’t sound like it’s trying desperately to get them across to us, and I respect that.

 The vocalists Hodeib and Choukeir should also be commended. Hodeib sings with emotion, like an actor, changing tones, yelling, etc… Choukeir also displays variations in tone, not as much as Hodeib, but it’s not necessary since her voice has an endearing quality to it.

 Now the music, I have some issues here. The band’s style is rock with touches of blues, jazz, and reggae. The rock aspect is a double-sided sword. At times it’s fresh and punk-like (like in “Sakra Dayme'”), other times it sounds like it was played by a classic rock cover band. I’m not sure how to explain, but there is a corner of rock music that I don’t like going to, and they took me to it. Not that it’s wrong or anything, I’m just not into classic blues-rock. Sue me. As for the reggae aspect, they stayed true to the genre to some extent with the use of effects (delay, reverb) and the drumming (you know, side-stick). Speaking of the drums, they could have been better, regardless of genre.

 I’m not really talking about the drummer, who I wouldn’t say sucks, but is certainly not the best; I’m talking about recording. The drums sound dry. They sound like each hit is a prerecorded sample. They’re just separate from all the other sounds. It sounds worse when they’re slow too. I don’t know… I really don’t know. Maybe it’s the volume? Maybe they needed some slight effects? I’m not a sound engineer…

 Anywho, good lyrics and vocal presentation, but I have a love-hate relationship with the music, and the recording could have been better. It’s a demo in the end, a sample created for evaluation and general feedback; you’re not going to get the final polished result the first time, so those were my two-cents. Thank you very much.

13 thoughts on “Album Review: Wled el Balad – “Wled el Balad”

  1. To start i would express my full-respect to the author of this article and to the readers regardless if they like our music or not, the issue is respect because they gave it an ear one day and that is enough for us.

    Thank you Mr. Fil for you review of our album, we feel honored, despite the fact that i have a love-hate relationship with ur blog since the last time you mentioned us in the article related to Hamra festivals. I like the way you presented everything, and i like the fact that you tried to be as objective as you could, even though i noted in more than one part of the article that you are trying so hard to claim that you know more than you do, in Lebanese we call it “3ayashen” i don’t know what you would call it. By the way, i don’t see your point when you reflected the following:

    “I’d like to make a side-note here: Has anyone noticed the overwhelming number of alternative Arabic-language artists whose lyrics fit the descriptions: “Sarcastic”, “Ironic”, “Surreal”, or “Critical”? Hell, Michelle Keserwany’s whole body of work is based on this. Don’t get me wrong, those are my favorite kinds of lyrics, but it’s almost like that’s the standard now. Like if you write in Arabic, but not cynically and vaguely, you’re just another no-substance pop star.”

    I just think you’re too naive, yes it is the standard, Full stop and i don’t have to justify, next time you’re in my brain try to change things. By the way, were is the sarcasm in Sakra Deyme? If you think you can really read into the music and understand it tell me where the sarcasm is? Ba3den aside those 4 types what is left of writing? love? leave it for those who have nothing to do in life, we work hard to save our asses from the street everyday, thank you very much but this is how we express.

    In conclusion, you were right about our standard, you were right about how the sound on the CD was not perfect, but hey, at least we are TRYING, unlike others who can’t even prepare a 5 piece band to cover guns and roses with a turn table.😎 I dono i mean but it reminds me of someone!

    I can;t think of anything else to talk about now, i will come back here when i have more thoughts, i get busy having a life sometimes😎.

    Salam

  2. To start i would express my full-respect to the author of this article and to the readers regardless if they like our music or not, the issue is respect because they gave it an ear one day and that is enough for us.

    Thank you Mr. Fil for you review of our album, we feel honored, despite the fact that i have a love-hate relationship with ur blog since the last time you mentioned us in the article related to Hamra festivals. I like the way you presented everything, and i like the fact that you tried to be as objective as you could, even though i noted in more than one part of the article that you are trying so hard to claim that you know more than you do, in Lebanese we call it “3ayashen” i don’t know what you would call it. By the way, i don’t see your point when you reflected the following:

    “I’d like to make a side-note here: Has anyone noticed the overwhelming number of alternative Arabic-language artists whose lyrics fit the descriptions: “Sarcastic”, “Ironic”, “Surreal”, or “Critical”? Hell, Michelle Keserwany’s whole body of work is based on this. Don’t get me wrong, those are my favorite kinds of lyrics, but it’s almost like that’s the standard now. Like if you write in Arabic, but not cynically and vaguely, you’re just another no-substance pop star.”

    I just think you’re too naive, yes it is the standard, Full stop and i don’t have to justify, next time you’re in my brain try to change things. By the way, were is the sarcasm in Sakra Deyme? If you think you can really read into the music and understand it tell me where the sarcasm is? Ba3den aside those 4 types what is left of writing? love? leave it for those who have nothing to do in life, we work hard to save our asses from the street everyday, thank you very much but this is how we express.

    And the standar, you are right. We are not the best and the quality of music is not really good, but my friend if you have the guts to produce a demo on your own expense if you were under similar circumstance to ours i would e on the moon right now. We are not the best musicians but we feel something you know? you should know about that, i mean, iza shi, i thought you claim to be an artist😎 At least we are trying, unlike others who can’t even prepare a 5 piece band to cover guns and roses with a turn table.😎 I dono i mean but it reminds me of someone!

    In conclusion, i like this blog, don’t make me start disregarding it, i really think you are a good writer, just keep up your brilliant work,

    I can;t think of anything else to say now, i will come back here when i have more thoughts, i get busy having a life sometimes😎.

    Salam

  3. “I can;t think of anything else to say now, i will come back here when i have more thoughts, i get busy having a life sometimes😎.”

    So basically, you having a life is that lengthy post of you being butt-hurt? Damn, that’s like your version of para-gliding, or fighting a lion with no arms or legs! DAMN, THE RUSH OF HAVING A LIFE TYPING! OH MY GOD I JUST ORGASMED!!!!!

    Feel, great article, OBJECTIVE and NOT BUTTHURT AT ALL unlike some other people…

  4. yo man listen first i don’t know you and i don’t know what you do in life other than criticizing people,but let me tell you something about “demo” album.First it was recorded in a basement not a studio with no sound proof.Usually a professional recording takes place in seperate session,”drums and base” are recorded alone! Unfortnunatly we were all together in the same “room” so offcourse the drums is gona sound like shit and offcourse we have to record some parts seperatly.And about me,ive been only playing for a year and a half so im not a pro dude! And as for you when you want to criticize music know what you want to talk about instead of throwing words try checking some demos for bands like pinkfloyd than do the judgingIi can give you some tips about understanding music next time maybe you’ll know what youre talking about and after all the music we play is different,you can call it experimental so know how to judge on that.You can criticize my spelling if you want,your’e not that bad in typing stuff🙂 peace

  5. almost forget get life man!

  6. lol, tol3o “wled” bi kil ma3na il kilmi. it’s not the critic’s fault ur music sucks, get over it.

  7. ” The Dude ” doesnt even have the guts to say his real name😛 you are probably some PS3 freak, over weighted loser who doesnt even know how to hold a drum stick or even write three lines that rhyme or even have a deep meaning about the society we live in.

    Atleast Hussam Elias wrote a reply wto depend a point of veiw or a Demo album a ” self -made ” demo album that was produced with wled el balad’s sweat and bones.

    go get ur self a real band that can write their own music and not just play fucked up demo’s just like any other band in this country and then come post a ” Im so cool / im still living the high school life ” comment.

    7aram, Wala i feel sorry to some people. Cheers

  8. ANOTHER ONE FOR YOU TO RE-READ , AND COMMENT ON🙂 ” The Dude ” doesnt even have the guts to say his real name😛 you are probably some PS3 freak, over weighted loser who doesnt even know how to hold a drum stick or even write three lines that rhyme or even have a deep meaning about the society we live in.

    Atleast Hussam Elias wrote a reply to defend a point of veiw or a Demo album a ” self -made ” demo album that was produced with wled el balad’s sweat and bones.

    go get ur self a real band that can write their own music and not just play fucked up cover’s just like any other band in this country and then come post a ” Im so cool / im still living the high school life ” comment.

    7aram, Wala i feel sorry to some people. Cheers

  9. hahaha that’s what you got to say!? Woow so professional man.I’d love to hear the negative comments on the album,but from a professional critic,a one who knows what he talks about not just throwing words.Besides I respect your opinion but all I know is that more than 100 cds were sold so a lot others thinks different.Anyways go get some music education and know how to criticize music cause your just like other typical Lebanese people! So seriously get a life dude!

  10. You now me and The Dude are not the same person right? -__-

  11. Oh my goodness, you do realize that if he’d given an overall positive review of the album you’d be thanking him, yeah?

    Welcome to the internet, where everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, and yet feel the need to continually insult each other!

    Yeah, okay, I know what basement-recorded sound is like, so there is a certain standard that you have to hold that kind of demo album to. So sure, maybe I don’t agree with El Feel’s viewpoint on that, but at the same time, he’s free to make speculations on lyrics and inspirations that aren’t spelled right out for him.

    Walad, I’m pretty sure that inferring that you’ve got too busy of a social life doesn’t adequately or maturely respond to El Feel’s review of your album anyway. Like I’ve already said, he did somewhat ignore the recording style, and that changed how he wrote this article; however, he can make whatever speculations on the Arabic music scene that he wants. I will openly admit I know NOTHING about it, but being a sound engineer myself I think I’m rather qualified to comment on it.

    If he doesn’t like what you made, then he doesn’t like what you made. You’re a musical artist, and yes, your music is how you express yourself. And that’s what you do. He writes articles. And that’s how he expresses himself. It’s the same way as you listening to a song that you’re not quite fond of; maybe the drums are a bit off, or the singer hits a few bad notes, but all the same you don’t enjoy it. Yeah, no one should be held to a “professional” bar especially if they’re making a demo, but that doesn’t mean you can be as condescending to infer that he’s unintelligent and has no social life.

    Hussam: There are QUITE A FEW terrible albums that have gone golden, and even platinum. The number of albums sold doesn’t affirm the quality of what is being sold. You’re telling him to “get a life” because you don’t agree with him. That’s not professional, that’s not constructive criticism, that’s not even fair. El Feel writes articles; that’s what he DOES. He even SAID that he’s not a sound engineer? I’ve heard entire ALBUMS created in garages that sound near-professionally-recorded. So to be honest, there isn’t a set standard for a demo, self-recorded, neither a high one nor a low one. You can’t assume that someone hasn’t listened to, as you’ve said Pink Floyd’s demos, simply because they dislike a COMPLETELY UNRELATED AND ANACHRONISTIC PIECE OF WORK. You just compared yourself to PINK FLOYD. It’s my impression that you completely fail to understand the need for some sort of quality within music; demo or not.

    Bent el Balad: I think we get that a demo was created. Awesome. Work also goes into writing an article. I’m not saying that you can compare the two things, but that writing journalistically and creating music both take time and effort. AGAIN, I’m not saying that this album and this article are equal, but that it’s unfair to say things like that.

    Everyone: could we be a little mature please? We get it, some people don’t like the album, and some people do. AWESOME. That doesn’t mean you need to condescend to personally insult each other.

    My personal opinion:
    Yeah, it sounds like a basement album. I don’t know what software or equipment is available to you, but I feel like there are some sound design problems that could be fixed. Trust me, I know how hard it is to get drums right. If you’re going to list all of the things you find bad, that means you’re aware of problems, that means you know what to fix. So fix it. Make it better. This is just a demo, so release a better one. Individually record your tracks, lower the gain on your high-hats if you’re using any special recording equipment, and definitely record the vocals separately at least a few times, and then you’ve got yourself an album. And that’s all I think you should do.

  12. haha, Bent il Balad portrays the reason why women should stay in the kitchen😛

    Thanks for your in-depth analysis of what I could be, I’m pretty flattered you took time out to do that. I won’t say my name to avoid altercations with a group of “wled” who really can’t take criticism and react like the same old Lebanese stereotype that burns tires and riots whenever something they don’t like happens. Seriously, selling albums doesn’t mean shit, look at Lil Wayne.

    Hussam, stop being denial about your lack of talent, Rand dump the self-loathing attitude that drives you to try to image over-weight PS3 freaks and Wled el Balad seriously stop making “music” for the benefit of mankind.

  13. Chelsea, you have a point, i don’t even know why i told El Feel to get a life, i personally like the overall of the article except for many small “tolteeshet” that sound just as offtune as my voice in most of the songs😀

    I stopped replying to this post a long time ago but it seems that others did not, Hussam and Randy stop posting in here man, its ridiculous how low are we getting?
    The Dude, did you ever consider writing a verse of poetry? If you do please make sure you pass by and show me, and if you could write better than i can then i will stop writing, I won’t talk more about this, ana Walad remember?

    El Feel, keep going with this blog i love it, you’re only getting more people interested in knowing who we are, and i personally a couple who actually wana hear us after they read this blog🙂

    Chelsea again, since you are a sound engineer i think it would be nice if you try to give me a more details professional opinion and tell me where you work and stuff, cz we are considering recording a better Demo album… I’ve heard more than one pro technical opinion and i would like to hear more

    overall: once again i want to say that if you want to critisize something just know what you are talking about, and don’t just go mainstream talkin about what everyone else does, and El Feel for you information about Lebanese Slang poetry, our style is not Mounir el Khawli, cause even Mounir El Khawli is basing his style on someone else, lyrics i mean, it’s all about Omar El Z3inni if you ave any idea about real Slang Poetry.. yea and I’m sorry for insulting you with my first reply.

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