Review Summary: Enjoy the aggression of Hard Rock? Relish the melodic side of Soft Rock and the layers of Progressive Rock? If so, this album might be worth your time.
A wave of Pakistani “guitar heroes” emerged in the 2000s, forming bands and playing a spectrum of music ranging from Pop Rock to Blues Rock, Hard Rock and even Jazz Fusion. One of these guitar heroes is Khurram Waqar; an experienced campaigner in the realm of guitar playing, songwriting, as well as engineering. In 2008 he decided to contact (at the time) up-and-coming singer Umair Jaswal, and thus Qayaas was born. The vision for Qayaas was to provide Khurram a platform to explore his more aggressive rock influences while supplementing that aggression with melodic and mellow flavours as well. He’s the principal songwriter and composed most of the music, while Umair penned all the lyrics.
gets straight to business with a belligerent triple combo in the form of the band’s three heaviest ever songs in “Uss Paar,” “Inquilaab,” and “Halaak,” with the first two especially being unabashed exercises in sumptuous Progressive Metal with Hard Rock grit. From the very first second of all three tracks the pounding drums and crushing riffs bring urgency to the proceedings, eventually leading you to the tasty bridge and solo sections. The album has no shortage of tasteful lead playing, with Khurram’s signature style and tone on full display, bringing his auditory Swiss Knife of sorts. He always focuses on melodic phrasing; whether it be during sections where he’s almost shredding, or the simpler ones.
As you can see Khurram’s name has been mentioned a lot already since he’s the brains behind the band, but Qayaas works particularly well as a unit. The dual guitar attack of Khurram and Sarmad Ghafoor works in perfect tandem; at times playing two separate rhythms, while at other times harmonising together, which keeps things interesting. There's also a healthy dose of acoustic guitar present here. Drummer Salman Rafique particularly performs well on Uss Paar
, being in tune with the requirements of the songs; bringing drive & intensity during the Hard Rock influenced sections, and subtle embellishments for the softer ones, while sprinkling dynamic fills across the album. Finally frontman Umair delivers arguably his best performance on an album. His vocals run the gamut of emotions ranging from his deep crooner style to his signature high pitched raspy wails. Listening to this album you can understand why Khurram specifically chose Umair, he fits the music like a glove.
One of this album’s shortcomings is the track sequence. The flow of the album feels a little lopsided because the aggressive tracks bookend the album, while the mellower ones occupy the middle portion. The album commences with an intense barrage of guitar distortion and powerful drumming before simmering down to milder mannerisms, until again lifting off for the finale. This makes the listening experience feel laboured during the business end of the album, but it's something you can get acclimatised to eventually. The individual songs themselves aren’t at fault, apart from possibly the lack of more heavy sections across the album, and this is why I think better sequencing of the songs would have made the album's flow more dynamic. Another gripe of mine is the album length, with "Monsoon" and "Pukaar" seeming superfluous to my ears. They're not bad songs, but they don’t bring anything novel to the album, and removing them would have brought Uss Paar
to under 60 minutes. Having said that the album does pertain a certain feeling of variety because of the diverse array of emotions on offer; containing brutal hard rock numbers like “Halaak” & “Mera Wana,” but also volatile tracks such as “Pal” and melodic rockers including “Tanha,” & “Shehrezade.” This may entice the listener to return multiple times to completely digest the album.
While sonically the album can feel slightly flat in places, overall though it sounds relatively textured as a result of it not being too heavily compressed, especially the mellower tracks. The guitar tones sound rich and crunchy, while the drum kit sounds vibrant, and Shaheryar Ghayas' bass resonates deep frequencies effectively, even if slightly muddy and low in the mix. This is what aids in making this album a compelling enough of a listen as a whole, and possibly even more so on an individual song basis. Sadly the band is now defunct, but Khurram is working on solo material, which is one silver lining to be optimistic about. One of Pakistan’s leading guitar figures continuing to keep the Rock flag flying for over two decades.
4. Uss Paar
Qayaas Spotify Page
[5:41] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeBggx9uS6Q&list=TLPQMjkwNTIwMjBlNLSrB hdZEA&index=2
[4:10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb9NHHj9OGw&list=TLPQMjkwNTIwMjBlNLSrB hdZEA&index=15
[5:17] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICpN7fp4Sw4&list=TLPQMjkwNTIwMjBlNLSrB hdZEA&index=5