Saudi foreign minister arrives in Madrid for meeting of European Council on Foreign Relations

JEDDAH: Saudi heavy metal band Wasted Land will perform at a festival that metalheads describe as “one of the most prestigious (music) festivals in the world.”

Wacken Open Air, the annual hard rock and heavy metal festival that attracts almost 100,000 headbangers to the city of the same name in Schleswig-Holstein, takes place from the first weekend in August with bands from all over the world.

Wasted Land won the Middle East Wacken Open Air Metal Battle in Jeddah in early May, giving them the opportunity to represent Saudi Arabia in the festival’s international final for the first time in history. The event was supported by the German Consulate and the European Music Week in Saudi Arabia.

The band will perform on the same stage as some of the most famous metal bands from around the world, including Scorpions, Amon Amarth, Blind Guardian, In Extremo, Pain and Beast In Black.

Band members are singer Emad Mujallid, founders and guitarists Ayman Al-Ghamdi and Ahmed Khoja, bassist Mahmoud Al-Tayeb and drummer Tameem Helmi.

Speaking to Arab News, Mujallid, Al-Ghamdi and Khoja said it was “unreal” and “like a dream come true” to perform at Wacken Open Air.

“With an opportunity like this, it actually becomes possible to do what you love,” Mujallid said.

Al-Ghamdi added: “Yesterday we dreamed of finding tickets for this big festival. Now, in a few days, we will be on stage with the best in the world. Just being there is an achievement for the first Saudi metal band ever.”

“It’s a dream for every metal band to play at Wacken Open Air. It’s the ultimate stage where legends gather,” said Khoja. “We are honored to represent Saudi Arabia at such a major global event.”

Formed in 2004, Wasted Land has been at the forefront of proving that heavy metal can exist in Saudi Arabia. The band’s sound is a unique blend of melodic death metal and groove metal, drawing inspiration from metal bands such as Suidakra from Germany and In Flames from Sweden.

Their journey from the unremarkable music scene in Jeddah to their performance at Wacken Open Air has been marked by ups and downs, breakups and reconciliations. The members have survived “an incredible number of line-up and management changes” – but every time they face a challenge, they continue to strive for success.

Khoja described 2004, when he began putting the band together, as a testing period.

“Times weren’t always so rosy,” he said, referring to the departure of some band members as well as problems with live performances, releasing songs on streaming platforms and promoting himself in his community.

“Basically, our identity was hidden and our musicals remained in the basement,” he added. Fortunately, things have changed.

“The Saudi music scene is at its peak today and the reforms have also given other entertainment companies the opportunity to flourish,” said Al-Ghamdi. “I hope that all types of music will receive the same attention and support.”

Mujallid added: “I think Saudi Arabia’s music culture is thriving right now and I hope they become more open to supporting all genres of music rather than focusing on a few and ignoring others, like rock, jazz, blues and even harder music like metal.”

The band members also expressed their gratitude to the German Consulate in Jeddah for its support, especially to the German Consul General Dr. Eltje Aderhold, who will be present at the festival to support this remarkable milestone.

Wasted Land is one of the first metal bands to play in Egypt and Dubai and has also opened for international bands such as Lacuna Coil and Moonspell.

They were featured in Saudi filmmaker Abdulrahman Sandokji’s documentary “Underground,” which followed the Saudi music scene. The band has also released an album and several singles and videos.

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