If there’s one band that hasn’t succumbed to the pressure of the electropop fever our music industry is currently gripped in, it’s the Lahore-based band, Karakoram. Every single one of their releases — from Toofaan [Storm] in 2018 to Raasta [Path] in 2020 and Bekhudi [Rapture] in 2021 — has remained solidly loyal and true to a more old-school rock ethos. It’s important. Because every decade that a new popular genre of music emerges, selling ditsy love songs gobbled up by the public, heralds the death of traditional rock music.

The threat of rock music turning into something as abhorrent as — shudders — “electro-rock” is ubiquitous. While some might allege that the band has dipped their toes in that pop juice with their collaboration with Hasan Raheem in Kyun [Why] earlier this year, they didn’t cross over. Instead, they brought Hasan Raheem to the ‘dark side’ of rock. The same goes for their Coke Studio collaboration with Talha Anjum and Faris Shafi on Yeh Dunya [This World]. They might collaborate with artist from different, ‘lighter’ genres, but even in those, they stick to their rock music guns.

Which is why it’s essential that bands such as Karakoram exist. They are the last remaining bastions of the collaborative angst, soul and furious release that is rock music.

Karakoram is Sheheryar ‘Sherry’ Khattak on song writing and vocals, Bilawal Lahooti on drums, Umair Farooq on the bass guitar and Zain Peerzada on guitars. All of these are incredibly seasoned and accomplished artists with just under a couple of decades as music practitioners — from performing to producing — under their belt.

In Awaaz, Karakoram make themselves heard as a much-needed, traditional rock outfit in the age of electropop

Listening to Karakoram’s music, I’m often transported to a younger, teenage version of myself. Except the recordings back then tended to sound a little rough. What tips you to the fact that this is a fresh, present-day release is just how crisp the production is. You can hear the whizz of a finger sliding over a guitar string.

You can sense the shudder of the cymbal after it’s hit been hit. And you can feel the absolutely unrestrained angst of the vocalist as he lets it all out.

And in their latest single, Awaaz [Voice], Sherry Khattak really lets it rip. The song encapsulates all of the elements of the band’s more traditional-set-in-a-modern-era sound. Right from the get-go, Bilawal Lahooti’s power drumming has the percussive set crashing down upon you like a mighty wave. Awaaz also sports a pretty slick, albeit short, guitar solo by Zain Peerzada that appears in the first half of the song. Both of these instruments make their presence felt throughout the song just as much as Sherry Khattak’s rasping-then-raging scream-singing (a technique rock singer use) vocals do.

The song is essentially about breaking free, being heard, fighting back and taking control. And never, ever giving up. Listening to it, it’s hard not to abandon what you’re doing and scream along to Sherry Khattak blasting the microphone with Ab na suneinge/ Ab tou kahenge [We’re not going to listen anymore/ We will speak up] followed by, AAH-WAAZ.

Which makes one think: it’s about time Karakoram starts performing their rock anthems to a live audience. We’re here and we’re ready to head bang to his awaaz.

Published in Dawn, ICON, July 3rd, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Pawn sacrifice
Updated 19 Aug, 2022

Pawn sacrifice

Concerns over torture allegedly perpetrated against Gill are valid and must be looked into forthwith.
Frozen conflict
19 Aug, 2022

Frozen conflict

THE recent discovery of the body of an Indian soldier lost in an ice storm on the Siachen glacier 38 years ago yet...
Deadly rains
19 Aug, 2022

Deadly rains

THERE seems to be no end to our monsoon misery. Deadly rains continue to lash several parts of the country,...
The fall guy
Updated 18 Aug, 2022

The fall guy

Maryam’s public distancing from Miftah over recent fuel price hike is quite uncalled for.
Never-ending scourge
18 Aug, 2022

Never-ending scourge

POLIO eradication efforts in the country appear to have suddenly taken a giant leap backwards. A day after...
Frozen Afghan funds
18 Aug, 2022

Frozen Afghan funds

WITH Afghanistan facing a humanitarian catastrophe and economic collapse, the American decision to not release ...