Pure Metal: the photography of Ramis Abbas

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Photography and music have always gone together. Adoring fans, Annie Leibovitz, Mick Rock and Anton Corbijn to name just a few, have become accomplished photographic artists by capturing the images of their favourite musicians and bands.

It’s hard to imagine jazz of a certain era separated from photography. In the ‘50s and ‘60s record labels like Blue Note, Verve and Riverside created a luscious and sexy aura around their records by the use of bold photography and modern design.

In India, the environmental portraits that Raghu Rai has made of some of India’s finest classical musicians are among his best work. Both arts – music and photography – are powerful in their own right. But when the visual is combined with the audio the result can be especially luxurious and pleasing. Even profound.

Turn your mind to Pakistani music and what pops up? Qawwali at an ursor urbane ghazal evenings, more than likely. But what about Industrial, Funeral Doom and Grindcore? The audiences may be minuscule (at the moment) and the wild-haired stars completely anonymous beyond their cultish followers, but the underground metal scene is growing in the Land of the Pure.

And one self-confessed metal head has, over the past several years, turned his camera onto the bands and dimly lit stages of this scene. The resulting images, a few of which we share here, provide a fascinating insight into a small but growing adventitious subculture.

Ramis Abbas is a photographer from Lahore who initially studied business.But his passion for Mother Rock’s most unruly and aggressive offspring, as well as a love of photography, saw him turn professional shooter a year ago. Abbas is pretty straightforward about why the metal scene is his subject” “No one else is documenting it.”

Abbas’s photographs capture the bands of the Pakistani metal scene in full flight and convey the urgent energy of the scene. You can’t help but share the pent-up emotions and experience the release the music brings to fans and players alike. Shot without flash, using just the flood lights, his dark photos ably reflect the tenebrous nature of the underground.

The Pakistan metal scene stretches back to the early 1990s when groups such as Kosmos, Seth and Autopsy Gothic began playing, initially in Karachi. As music clubs are virtually non-existent, the scene has had to develop organically from small domestic venues, with more often than not, the support of siblings and parents. Indeed, according to Abbas it is not unusual to see proud parents show up in the darkened halls to watch their sons eviscerate the evening with their wild goings-on. One band in particular, Dusk, found some success, landing a record deal with an international label and touring Europe.[full article with pics]

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