Ostura (Arabic for Legend) are a Lebanese Cinematic Prog Metal band from Keserwan, Lebanon. The band, formed in 2009, consists of Danny Bou-Maroun (producer, keyboards, orchestration), Elia Monsef (producer, lead vocals), Youmna Jreissati (lead vocals), Alain Ibrahim (guitars), Dan Veall (Bass), Alexander Abi Chaker (live show drums). The band is currently signed to Universal Music MENA. They are credited as one of the leading bands in the Middle East in the Progressive genre and one of the first bands in the world to Combine Metal music with Film-score music.
In fall 2012, the band released their debut “Ashes of the Reborn” independently to mostly positive reviews, before a lineup and sound change.
They signed with Universal Music MENA In December 2018 making them the first Metal band to sign with a major label in their country.
In February 2018 The band released the very ambitious “The Room” showcasing their new musical style and lineup.
The Room features musical collaborations with international names like Drummer Thomas Lang (Paul Gilbert, Peter Gabriel), Guitarist/Producer Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon), Guitarist Marco Sfogli (Icefish, James Labrie, Jordan Ruddess), Ozgur Abbak, and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
Formation and Ashes of the reborn (2009-2012)
In late 2009 Ostura was formed by Danny Bou-Maroun, Chris Neaimeh, and Elie Hnein. They were later joined by the three singers Elia Monsef, Youmna Jreissati, and Tony Ghanem. The band entered the studio in 2010 and released the debut titled “Ashes of the Reborn” independently later in the fall of 2012.
AOTR was the first step into Ostura’s career. The album featured 3 singers, and it held a concept fantasy story told in Power Metal Opera fashion in the style of Avantasia, and Stratovarius.
The original lineup never made it through to the release of the debut album as only Bou-Maroun, Monsef, Jreissati, and Ghanem remained in the band.
AOTR received positive reviews from local and international magazine establishing Ostura as one of the most promising acts to come out of Lebanon.
Reformation and The Live Opera (2012-2013)
In early 2012, the band had to recruit new members due to the departure of Hnein and Neaimeh. Guitarist Alain Ibrahim of Lebanese Progressive Metal band “Turbulence” was chosen to replace Hnein. Drummer Alexander Abi Chaker replaced Neaimeh on Drums, and Marcelino Said was hired to fill the Bass Guitar Vacancy. The band went on to play one Show in Beirut under “The Live Opera” title which was positively received by the audiences despite the overwhelming technical difficulties.
The Room (2013-Present)
After the relative success of their debut album, and the impossibility to take The Live Opera on the road, Ostura regrouped and decided to start writing for a follow up. Several writing combinations were tested and the harmony was most present between Monsef and Bou-Maroun. They Both took on the writing and production tasks early on and developed a story that would later be scored into a musical album. ‘The Room’ marked a new approach for songwriting for the band. With Monsef’s Prog background and Bou-Maroun Film-scoring background, the collaboration resulted in a very different sound from their debut; dropping the Speed/Power Metal sound for a modern fusion of Film-score, industrial metal, and progressive metal. Monsef and Bou-Maroun would later work with each member of the band to work out their parts. Writing for ‘The Room’ was done by early 2016, the 12 songs were written in chronological order and work as a score for an equally cinematic storyline.
The Room tells a story about a social recluse girl who takes refuge in a room. Locked in with her thoughts, fears, and ambitions, the girl’s imagination turns the room into an endless universe where she is the creator. Soon after, the creation gains the ability to create and ask the right questions. The story tackles the notions of fear, perfection, social anxiety, ambitions, rage, power, and the struggle between the creator and the creation.
The Room is a massive production with performers from 12 countries, alongside the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the core band. The recording includes a Chamber Quintet, Live Percussion, Ethnic instruments, Solo instruments, and analog synthesizers as well as a fair share of electronica. Ostura’s used cinematic structures and changes of atmospheres based on character emotions and dialogue. All vocal recordings, choirs, guitars, ethnic and classical instruments were recorded at the band’s own studio The Citadel in Dlebta Lebanon. Alain Ibrahim brought in his technical and musical skills that proved to be unparalleled in Lebanon. Youmna Jreissati recorded all her parts gracefully gaining outstanding reactions from critics and fans alike.
Said and Ghanem’s departure:
During the final arrangement stages, and upon preparation for production, Marcelino Said was relieved of his duties as a bass player due to differences in musical direction with Monsef and Bou-Maroun. Shortly after, Ghanem had to step down from vocals due to a medical condition affecting his vocal chords.
Drum Recording and Guests:
Drummer Alexander Abi Chaker stepped down from drum recording at the last minute, after he had been working on the drum parts together with the Monsef and Bou-Maroun, due to work obligation that involved him being away from the country for months.
Ostura called upon Legendary Drummer Thomas Lang (Robert Fripp, Peter Gabriel, Robbie Williams, and Sugababes, among many others) to handle the Drum recording. Michael Mills (Toehider, Ayreon) on vocals, Dan Veall on Bass, Marco Sfogli (James Labrie, Icefish, Jordan Rudess among others) on Lead Guitar and Legendary Prog Genius Arjen Lucassen, as well as Turkish Guitar hero Ozgur Abbak.
The mixing and mastering was given to Metal’s most sought-after engineer Jens Bogren at fascination street studios in Sweden (Opeth, Devin Townsend, Between The Buried And Me, Symphony x, Haken)
Release and Universal Music Signing
Even though production for ‘The Room’ wrapped in December 2016 The band struggled to secure a distribution that would give the album the justice it deserves. After a full year, Ostura landed a deal with Universal Music Mena, and announced the release date of the album, through the band’s Official Social media platforms, to be on February 23th 2018. Two singles were released ‘Deathless’ and ‘Only One’ to promote the album.
Ostura play a combination of styles that could be summarized under the Cinematic Progressive Metal subgenre, or Cinematic Prog for short. Their music features odd time signatures, dynamic tempo changes, cinematic atmospheres, cinematic sounds, industrial sounds, symphonic elements, heavy guitars, syncopated drums, and clean vocals.
Ostura’s sound has been compared to that of Ayreon, Dream Theater, Nightwish, and Symphony X among others.
Youmna Jreissati – Vocals (2009-present)
Elia Monsef – Vocals (2009-present)
Danny Bou-Maroun – Keyboards (2009-present)
Alexander Abi Chaker – Drums (2013-present)
Alain Ibrahim – Guitars (2012-present)
Tony Ghanem – Vocals (2009-2015)
Elie Hnein – Guitars (2009 – 2012)
Marcelino Said – Bass (2013 – 2015)
Chris Neaimeh – Drums (2009-2012)
Jack Hayek – Bass (2009 – 2012)
|Ashes of the Reborn||Independent, November 1st, 2012|
|The Room||Universal Music MENA, February 23d, 2018|