Nervecell | Interview with Rami Mustafa and Barney Ribeiro


I’ve been listening to “Psychogenocide” for a month now, and the first thing I thought when I heard it was how confident and mature the band sounds like on this new record. How would you say you’ve progressed as a band during these last two years?

Barney: I think we’ve progressed quite a lot actually, both musically and as the people who we are. We did tour around the world quite a lot for “Preaching Venom” and it gave us a lot of experience as a band. Rami and I knew what we wanted to achieve with this new record and we saw to it that we get what we wanted. There is a mood on “Psychogenocide” that is consistent and it flows through the entire album, we wanted to write a more darker album and experiment freely by using other typical Middle Eastern instruments on the record such as the Oud and Arabic percussion but still not loose the overall vibe of the band. If you read the lyrics on “Psychogenocide” too its very easy to notice the serious content that we are talking about in this record. I feel we have maintained a sound of our own, we’ve achieved to have a blend of extreme metal which is still melodic yet still has hints of Middle Eastern passages in between the riffs and music we compose. What’s most important to us is that its natural and we want to keep it that way.

On Psychogenocide, “compromise” continues to be a word that is not in the Nervecell dictionary, yet the band continues to improve and evolve without changing the style that fans expect. The album offers some new dynamics and a diversity that have never been heard in previous works. So how would you describe the differences between the two albums? Was there any specific direction you were going for?

Rami: We wanted to make a heavier and faster album yet more accessible to different tastes. We wanted to add an overall darker feel to some of the songs, that was in mind. We’re glad this created more dynamics within the songs and added a whole lot of different feels for the album which happened in a very natural way. New ideas did come up on the table while we were writing the songs, of course during the pre-production period as well which was cool because we were making the songs even better. So we felt very comfortable when we wrote all guitar riffs felt the songs are getting better and better after some changes here and there. We did take our time shaping the songs as well as on the vocals department. We also wanted to add a little touch of Middle Eastern/Arabic instrumentation that’s where it can be heard in the intro track “Anemic Assurgency” and we also added Arabian-Gulf-style percussion in the instrumental track “The Taste Of Betrayal”. The most interesting addition to the album is Arabic vocals/lyrics in the song “Shunq” and that was a really challenging step for the band since it’s not really that easy to have Arabic growls in a death metal song, we did work on that and turned out pretty good! It’s very important for us as musicians to be 100% satisfied with our songs as well keep our fans satisfied.

Knowing that James Khazaal and Barney Ribeiro live in Dubai, Rami H. Mustafa now resides in Qatar and Dave Haley is based in Australia, I imagine the band doesn’t rehearse together that much, do you usually develop ideas for new songs on your own and then present it to each other over the internet or do you all get together prior to the recordings of new songs? Do you feel comfortable working in this way?

Barney: Haha we definitely don’t feel comfortable working like that, but then again we are a death metal band essentially based in Dubai so what can you expect!? It was a lot easier when Rami, James and I were all together in Dubai, however it hasn’t stopped us for keeping the band going. Rami and I mostly write riffs and send it to each other using the internet, we usually get together once every 3 months to share ideas and work on all the band related stuff but yeah the internet is how we work through the most. When ever we have any tours lined up what we typically do as a band is get together for 3 to 4 days prior to the tour in Dubai and then we rehearse and leave straight away for the road!

Regarding the title of the new record, what exactly is a Psycogenocide? It seems to pertain with a dark and complex message.

Barney: It has a very deep meaning behind the title, we made it a term “Psychogenocide” by putting the 2 words together. It has a lot to do with humanitarian issues, miseries and society related topics which are occurring in the world today and has been going on for years. We feel as a band we can use our music to educate the naive and innocent into understanding this ongoing issue we face as human beings. For years we have been controlled and experimented with by the higher ups, so we wanted to bring out into the open the topics of brainwashing and mind control by pointing these important terms out to those who are not aware of the activities around them and who really is controlling the world today.

Are there specific lyrical themes on which you tend to focus on this record?

Rami: Every song in the album has a topic of its own really, but overall we are focusing more on the topic of psychological/mind control in this world that’s been happening against humanity, which also relates to our main concepts that we have been using in our previous albums that are all related to humanitarian issues.

Through hard work and dedication the band has been slowly building an audience that now spans the whole globe. I take it it’s not easy for a band located in the Middle East to break barriers and bring their music into European, American and Asian audiences. I’m sure that that you’re proving a lot people who said you guys weren’t going to go far as a band that they were wrong. 
Do you feel accomplished and proud of everything the band has conquered to this date?

Barney: I always feel very honored and fortunate looking back at where we started and how far the band has come today. I am a true believer in the saying “Impossible is Nothing” because I know what we went through, the struggles, the sacrifice, the losses and very importantly also the depression that comes along when you’re striving to achieve something you believe in so strongly, even when it feels your entire friend circle and loved ones is against you chasing your dreams! So yeah I definitely feel accomplished knowing that all those who thought differently of us now look like fools today only because they were weak and definitely not supportive. I know I have something to look back at no matter how long NERVECELL goes on for because taking risks and chances in life is really what living is all about to me and together with my band mates we’ve done that and achieved a hell of a lot being a metal band based in the Middle East and lasting this long, touring releasing albums and living the kind of lifestyle we always dreamed of! To travel the world and get to meet fans in parts of the world such as Egypt, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Turkey and all over Europe etc. is a very humbling feeling and there never is a dull moment. As a band based in the Middle East we are extremely grateful for all the opportunities and support we have, right from getting signed to Lifeforce Records, having our management CSM believe in us and getting opportunities from promoters and agents to tour the world!

What is the next step for Nervecell, I see there’s a lot more touring ahead of you right now.

Rami: We just finished a couple of headlining shows in Dubai and in August we are heading to Europe to start our festival run. Starting at Brutal Assault (Czech Repulbic), Rock im Betonwerk (Germany), Summer Breeze Festival (Germany) and more to be confirmed. After that we are planning to do a headlining Nervecell European tour in support of “Psychogenocide” hopefully before the end of 2011. To keep up with our news/updates you can visit our websites: , and

David Alexandre