One of my favourite albums to come out of Pakistan is Mizraab’s ‘Maazi, Haal, Mustaqbil (Past, Present, Future). For the first time in Pakistan somebody tried to make a theme album, and sure enough it crashed and burn commercially. But then a very small percentage of Pakistanis listen to something other than Pop.
Maazi, Haal, Mustaqbil (MHM) is a pretty interesting album with a lot of flavours to it. However, first let’s go over the sound of the album. When listening to the album, I felt it had a very artificial feel to it. The guitars were downright raw, grungy and awesome but the drums really lacked that extra punch that heavy metal adds to them. The sound should be such that it entices a person to start head banging – something that is heavy metal associated with. I don’t really blame Faraz Anwar for that. Pakistan has a serious dearth of good drummers – Gumby being one of the very few. Besides a lack of good drummers, I think the costs of recording live drums would’ve been extremely high at the time MHM was being recorded. Because I can’t really accept the reasoning that Faraz Anwar couldn’t find musicians who can’t play his music.
Other than the drums, Faraz Anwar layered his songs beautiful. The guitars are just spot on. Something that lacked in his composition, ‘Autumn Madness’, can be seen in this album – the freedom with which he plays e.g. ‘Meri Tarhan’ has an amazing solo with very touching phrasing at the end of the song. Besides the solos, the riffs are nasty e.g. I always feel like head banging on ‘Aag’. Faraz Anwar has done an excellent job on electric guitars but in ‘Kuch Nahi’ he shows his expertise on an acoustic guitar.
Faraz Anwar has been criticized for his vocals quite a lot; I think it shows the short-sightedness of music critics and listeners. Firstly, Faraz Anwar is a metal head and likes to make metal music (I will discuss his recent change of genre some other time) and, therefore, it should be expected off of him to scream like a freakin’ banshee or hit those high notes which only crazy vocalists like Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Tobias Sammet(Edguy & Avantasia), Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) do so with ease. Secondly, I wouldn’t have wanted Rahat Fateh Ali Khan singing on his album; it’s like asking Norah Jones to sing on an Arch Enemy record! MHM has one of the most nicely done vocals on a heavy metal record to come out of Pakistan which aren’t too many anyways.
Throughout the album Faraz talks about the harsh realities of life and whatever has befallen mankind over the centuries but doesn’t leave the listener with complete hopelessness, and talks about a green future for us. However, the best thing about the album was the smooth transition between the three phases – past, present and future. I think it has been executed very nicely.
In conclusion, I would just say that Faraz Anwar is one of the best musicians to have come out of Pakistan. With Junoon no longer together, Aaroh on the verge of break-up, and the likes of Atif Aslam dominating the music scene, MHM was a breath of fresh air from Mizraab in 2004. Unfortunately, Mizraab haven’t been able to pursue this genre and recently have come out with ballads like ‘Ujalon Main’ and ‘Woh aur Main’. Hopefully, Faraz Anwar will realize that making music he believes in is much more important than becoming just another musician composing ‘sweet’ songs. I hope he doesn’t let go of his identity that he worked so hard to establish.