AMADEUS AWAD: Pioneer of Darkness From the Middle East

Amadeus Awad

Growing up in the city of Tripoli, Lebanon during the 1980s civil war in a terrorizing ambient for Amadeus Awad was one of those life changing experiences. He is a self-taught guitarist and composer whose needs for an escape from a dark everyday life resulted in creating music while working with the elite of contemporary progressive rock/metal scene. Being dubbed as the Arjen Lucassen of the middle east, Amadeus Awad is the first musician coming from the world’s most sensitive region who achieved that much and who is a direct inspiration for many young musicians and bands.

“My first real encounter with music was with Deep Purple,” says Awad. “When I was 5, my brother brought home Deep Purple’s California Jam on VHS and Mistreated came up. And I saw God. Richie Blackmore! I told my brother I want to be like this guy. I used to watch this song every single day until my parents got me my first guitar on my 6th birthday.”

That guitar was his real get-away from everything that has been happening. “Everything around me affected me. The morning prayers that used to echo through the streets, the generic music on the radio and the war music on the TV stations that were controlled by militias”.

With many hours spent on practicing and gaining the experience, Awad moved to Beirut and started to work as a sound engineer, playing with some of the Lebanese major fusion musicians who discovered his talent.

“My first steps were to work as a sound engineer/editor for a post-production company. I was responsible of sound design, minor recordings and composing music for TV ads and radio spots. Later on I started few small cover bands until I decided that I want to release my own music. I opened a studio of my own and started doing my thing.”

That was the moment he picked up the name Amadeus and added it to his last name. He started touring and writing his first solo material. It resulted in an amateurish recording put out under the name Ghost Stories.

“I was creating tracks and all of a sudden I had five ready. And I told myself maybe I should release this, so I did it. It lead me to believing that I should do this because two of the tracks were extremely successful.”

With just a year between, Awad released his sophomore album Time of the Equinox in 2012.

“Each track talks about a certain experience I had in my life. The Origins Of Light is about the time I became questioning all what we believe in and I was turning into an atheist. This started very early, I was a kid. Paper Dreams is about the death of my father and its aftermath and effects on my life. Until we reach L’univers En Deiul (The Universe in Mourning), a song that depicts the end of this Equinox moment and the waiting for the next.

“My Equinox happened in 2011 and this is why I chose this name for the album, I was depicting this huge change through the series of events and experiences I faced in my life.”

Amadeus Awad

The latest in the Amadeus Awad opus is a three-song EP Schizanimus. The 23-minute lengthy EP features guest appearances by Porcupine Tree‘s drummer Gavin Harrison, Dan Veall on bass, Danny Bou-Maroun on orchestration and Elia I. Monsef on vocals. It is a story of love, hate, betrayal, schizophrenia, suicide and endless conflicts.

“Schizanimus is about a personal experience as well. It is about how love and hate intertwine and work together hand in hand to break things apart. The betrayal in this story is physical, emotional and mental and it is controlling the way the emotional background is built musically and lyrically.”

Schizanimus is composed of two words – schizophrenia and animus.

Amadeus Awad's Schizanimus“In the story the female has a problem in her animus. Having a long very harsh history with the male figures in her life, she developed a very aggressive side that lead to the destruction of the only man that she truly loved. The man was Schizophrenic and her behavior accentuated this and lead to disasters, he became suicidal and tried to kill himself.

“He felt that physical/mental/emotional betrayal manifesting right in front of him and could not live with it because of his burden of guilt, he saw that maybe his schizophrenic state lead to the climax of the disaster. So he took part of the blame, reconciled and made peace with what happened and controlled his side of the war by surrendering to the fact that ‘a war only leads to peace, and to find peace you need to find a peaceful partner, to find a peaceful partner you withdraw yourself from the war and focus on finding the peace within you and then to find peace elsewhere, a peace that is harmonious with yours, a partner that can bring you to life’.”

In A Song for the Loner Awad says:

His “Inner child” is DEAD enough to let her go… Back to you.

“I certainly mean that he killed the past, letting go of her (war) and getting back to you (new life, peace).”

The upcoming full-length record, also called Schizanimus, brings forth Marco Minnemann on drums, but Awad says that there will be more surprises. The album is also the only official record that features Gavin Harisson and Marco Minnemann on the same release.

“There will be 2 new songs, one of them is a story of transitions from the evident war in the first phase and the second is about the revelation. I managed to write them when I went through the transition and found my new light.”

Marco Minnemann plas on Amadeus Awad's Schizanimus album

Along with the work on Schizanimus, Amadeus is also working on The Book of Gates project that is to be released under the Amadeus Award’s EON name. It’s a progressive metal concept album that besides Awad includes Elia I. Monsef, Russell Allen (Symphony X), Amanda Somerville (Aina, Trillium, Avantasia), Kevin Moore (OSI, Dream Theater), Elyes Bouchoucha (Myrath), Dan Veall, John Macaluso (Yngwie Malmsteen, Ark) and Timo Tolkki (Stratovarius, Avalon).

“It is a twisted story I had on my mind and I chose ancient Egypt as a stage for it. I relied on scripts from “The Book Of The Dead” to construct my story around it. It is a conflict between many different ideologies, a conflict about priests and their corrupted political roles – how greed can make us commit crimes. And even the conflicts of the Gods and rulers of the afterlife to decide who shall reign on earth.”

It is important to mention that both Schizanimus and The Book of Gates are the brain child of Awad himself, but his long-time friend and vocalist Elia I. Monsef helped him through the songwriting process, as well as with the production of both albums.

“I see in Elia a great musical mind, the number of ideas he presents to me never matters, my relationship with him is about that amazing idea that glues everything together and make the songs what they are. Both records would not sound the same without his help as a composer/producer.

“And on the vocal level, Elia has one of the most interesting timbers I have ever worked with, and you know by now that I worked with the cream of the vocalists in the metal world. His amazing abilities to dial in any range and any feeling I need is just astonishing. When working with him I never worry about the delivery, I worry about which great take to choose.”

With two releases in front of him, 2014 seems to be crucial for Awad‘s career.

“The word ‘career’ does not appeal to me much, I am in this for self-expression… The future holds more of that. I will keep on releasing albums that tell personal stories as well as my take on different experiences told from my own perspective. And I will always want to be a pioneer from the middle east,” concludes Awad.

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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