Motör Militia

Motör Militia
Motör Militia

Picture of the band's last known lineup, shot circa July 2004 for their debut album, The Sound of Violence

From left to right: Salem Sulaibikh, Abdulla Muijrers, Mahmood Abdul Ghaffar, and Yousef Hatlani.
Background information
Origin Saar, Bahrain
Genres Thrash metal/Heavy metal
Years active 2001–2004
2005, 2007–Present (Reunions)
Labels SandStorms Records
Mahmood Abdul Ghaffar - Vocals/Bass
Yousef Hatlani - Guitars
Abdulla Muijrers - Drums

Hisham Ali - Guitars
Ahmed "Kheero" Abu Alkhair - Guitars
Abdulrazzaq "Atto" Awadh - Bass
Past members
Salem Sulaibikh - Live Guitarist
Mohammed Bukannan - Guitars
Khalifa Kamal - Guitars
Amer BuHussain - Guitars

Motör Militia (also known as Motor Militia) is a Bahraini heavy metal/thrash metal band. They are regarded as one of the first metal bands of their genre in the Persian Gulf/Middle East area to record and release a full length album of original material on an independent label.[1]

In 2003, Motör Militia built a following based on word of mouth promotion in their local and neighboring Middle Eastern music communities. At the same time, members of the group began interacting with many other bands in their local heavy metal scene, organizing DIY heavy metal and hard rock concerts at a pace faster than previously realized. This, in addition to the band's decision to play sets consisting almost entirely of original material (and subsequently recording and releasing it), influenced many local groups to do the same.

Popular for their atypical cover song selections, live shows, and original compositions, the band remains well known in Middle Eastern heavy metal and hard rock music communities despite performing a total of only 10 concerts in their known career.[1] Members of the band regrouped in 2007 after a two year long hiatus to resume songwriting and performing occasionally.

On Thursday, March 13, 2008, the band performed their first concert in over three years, debuting new material and a new live lineup.[2]



Formation (2001)

The band formed in mid-2001 under the name Black Star,[1] when three High School students by the names of Abdulla Muijrers, Amer BuHussain, and Mahmood Abdul Ghaffar decided to create a group based on their similar musical tastes, and also to make up for the lack of Heavy Metal and hard rock musicians in their school, Ibn Khuldoon National School, a K-12 institution located in Isa Town, Bahrain.

Muijrers, a fifteen year-old Dutch-Bahraini drummer who had been playing since 1997,[1] had recently quit the instrument in late 1999 until September 2001, when he met Ghaffar, another fifteen year-old who had started playing bass earlier that year and recently moved in to the country from Washington, D.C., through his high school's Guitar Club. Abdulla was subsequently inspired by Mahmood's ability to play bass and sing at the same time to take up his role as a drummer again.[1]

Following this encounter, a friend of theirs in the same grade, a keyboardist turned guitarist named Amer BuHussain, met with the two students and decided to share his admiration for the same musical genres with the others by proposing to form a band. Engaging in their similar tastes, they soon began to jam together; performing primarily Black Sabbath and Motörhead covers.

As Black Star, they performed one concert[1]: their high school's first annual talent show in June 2002, an event itself proposed to the school by Muijrers. Their setlist consisted of one song, an original composition which was intertwined with a combination of various songs by heavy metal groups the members were influenced by, such as "One" by Metallica, "Peace Sells" by Megadeth, and "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne. The performance was well received, and caught the attention of another guitarist in their school who also shared a liking for their genre of music, a student in their grade by the name of Khalifa Kamal. Kamal joined the group shortly thereafter, making them a four-piece lineup for the first time.

The lineup, however, did not perform for the rest of the year due to collectively increased focus on their schoolwork, as well as BuHussain himself losing interest in guitar playing. Instead, they jammed occasionally, with Muijrers and Mahmood remaining serious about their musical endeavours.

New lineup with a new name (January 2003)

By January 2003, the interest guitarists BuHussain and Kamal once had in the band was waning. Regardless, the band opted to perform at another of their school's events being held later in the month, "Sports Day",[1] an annual occasion that dedicates an entire day to sporting events and competitions. At the same time, a 15 year-old Arab-American guitarist in their school named Yousef Hatlani voiced his own interest in performing as a soloist at the event to the school's music teacher. Initially unaware of Black Star, he was told that a band was already slated to be performing that day. Intrigued, he asked for more information about the band, at which point the teacher gave him drummer Abdulla Muijrers' phone number.[1] Out of his interest in performing, Hatlani did not hesitate to call, also knowing that the event was only a few weeks away. As he called, Muijrers mentioned that the group already had two other guitarists. However, because the group was in need of a more dedicated guitar player, he said they wouldn't mind seeing him play. As Yousef showed up for his first jam session, the band members were immediately impressed with both his equipment and with the intensity he portrayed musically.[1] He was speedily admitted into the band, despite the time period being the midst of their rehearsal sessions.

As he was admitted, however, the atrophy of both BuHussain's and Kamal's interest in music caused them to suddenly quit. The band continued to rehearse undeterred as a three-piece, solidifying what would become their core lineup; with Mahmood on bass guitar and vocals, Yousef on both rhythm and lead guitar, and Muijrers on drums.

It was also around this time that Muijrers and Mahmood had decided to rename the group in light of their new lineup. Their decision on a name came in a conversation over the phone: Mahmood had previously nicknamed Muijrers "motor" for his double bass grooves, and the two of them had decided on using that as the first part of their name. After not being able to come up with anything useful, Muijrers suggested pairing it with the word "militia", a decision brought on by him listening to the Metallica song "Metal Militia" at the time. The two quickly decided on the name "Motör Militia", taking to heart the meaning behind it: "Army of Speed". The umlaut was added later as a tribute to another of the duo's favorite bands: Motörhead.

Sports Day and the Powerhorse Mega Jam (January - February 2003)

Motör Militia performing for the first time on January 21st, 2003 at their High School's annual Sports Day event.

Following the jam sessions, the band performed their first gig under the Motör Militia name on January 21, 2003 at Ibn Khuldoon National School's Sports Day, taking place in the Bahrain National Stadium. Their setlist, however, did not reflect the full-on thrash metal sound that the band would soon develop. Instead, it consisted primarily of rock and hard rock covers, notably Audioslave's "Cochise" and Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". An early, slower version of their song "End of Days" was also performed. Although the band had to end their set early due to a potential electrical hazard caused by an open water bottle sitting on the edge of one of the school's amplifiers, the performance was met with acclaim from the students and faculty alike.

In the February following Sports Day, Muijrers had read in the newspaper about a competitive gig called the "Powerhorse Mega Jam"[1] that was taking place the next day at a local go-kart circuit named Rally Town that was minutes away from his house where the group was jamming at the time. Because the band already had a full set list of covers rehearsed, they got in Muijrer's car and quickly rushed to the location in hopes of landing an audition. As they got there, they were told by officials that there was no problem with them performing at the gig. However, they would have to go on as the last local group of the evening.

The gig, however, revealed that the band did not rehearse enough for the event; missing many cues and generally not playing the songs well. In addition, there was a five minute power outage during the middle of their set that took away from their twenty-five minute time limit. The band then attempted to cover Slayer's "Angel of Death" near the end of their set, at which point they were told by the officials that their time limit was up, and that they had to leave the stage. The group then angrily packed up their equipment and left after arguing with the concert organizers for minutes.

The second annual Ibn Khuldoon Talent Show (March - June 2003)

Mahmood and Muijrers (right) perform at their school's second annual talent show.

A month after the Mega Jam gig, the band decided to get a second guitarist in hopes of expanding their sound. It did not take very long to find one, as they quickly asked their friend and senior Ibn Khuldoon student Mohammed Bukannan[1] to fill in for the time being. Bukannan, who had not being playing guitar for very long, agreed to the offer; and the group expanded into a four piece for the second time.

The band continued to rehearse for the upcoming high school Talent Show, which was months away—in the middle of June. Despite this, it was apparent that Bukannan's inexperience was not meshing very well with the band, and the band decided to keep looking for a permanent second guitarist while keeping Bukannan temporarily.

That June, Muijrers asked childhood friend and fellow musician Salem Sulaibeekh to join the band permanently,[1] as he was impressed by his lead guitar skills. He agreed quickly, replacing Bukannan as the band made final preparations for the Talent Show. However, the group was soon told that no students from other schools were allowed to perform in the event—at which point they were forced to perform with their core lineup as a three piece once again.

Even still, the event proved highly successful; solidifying the maturing band's presence in their high school and helping establish their growing following. Songs included covers of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", Van Halen's "Eruption", and Liam Lynch's "United States of Whatever" in addition to performing "Hole", which later appeared on their debut album. The group closed the show with Motörhead's "Ace of Spades".

Friendly Violent Fun (June - October 2003)

Motör Militia finish performing to an audience of 1,000 at the self-organized DIY concert, Friendly Violent Fun (FVF). The concert holds the distinction of having the highest attendance rate of a non-endorsed hard rock/Heavy Metal event ever in the country.[3]

Following the reception they received from their Talent Show performance, the band focused its energy on ensuring a spot at the coming of Bahrain’s most successful local rock festival: The annual Dilstock, held in October. The band had submitted their portfolio and a demo tape to the organizer, although it was later announced that the show would be pushed back to December. It also became apparent that few Bahraini bands would be on the bill with the majority of the performers being English and Filipino, the only local acts at the concert were progressive rock band Avatar and hard rock band Dive. This fact frustrated the band and Muijrers in particular, who urged local Bahraini bands to unite and organize a new rock festival free of the limitations presented by a sponsored event, namely the censorship of songs and the time limits typically set forth by the organizer.

With this in mind, Muijrers began to devise the plans for such a concert. Eventually, the other bands that where due to play at a recently canceled concert held by Bahraini outlet of the volunteer organization Lions Club, Bahraini hard rock groups Vulcan and Illusions, were notified—in addition to Avatar and Dive taking part in the event as well. These four groups, along with Motör Militia, formed the final list of performers for the event.

Upon choosing a name, Muijrers dubbed the concert Friendly Violent Fun - it being description of what he felt a Heavy Metal concert should be, and also a tribute to the late Exodus singer Paul Baloff.[3] The phrase itself was lifted from one of Exodus' songs, "The Toxic Waltz". The concert then became widely known by its abbreviation: FVF. An expansive indoors venue called the Falcon Hall, located in Adliya's Palace Inn Hotel, was soon chosen as the performance venue - as it could hold one thousand people easily. After October 23, 2003 was chosen as the final date, the bands involved immediately began promoting the event by word of mouth and distributing hundreds of flyers that Yousef had illustrated as the sole graphics designer of the concert.[3] In addition to this, local newspaper the Gulf Daily News ran a two page article on the event.

One of the fliers advertising the concert.

As it turned out, FVF then became the most successful hard rock/Heavy Metal concert in the history of the country that was not supported financially by any outside sources;[1] an event that was funded solely by the bands involved, it ended up selling 1,400 tickets by the end of the night.[3] Fans embraced the new found freedom of song selection and performance the bands had, with no censorship of lyrics for performers or age limit set for attendance. It is still considered to be the pinnacle of local hard rock and Heavy Metal concerts in the country. Of note is that Lebanese pop star Nancy Ajram was performing in Manama on the same night, a concert which lead to riots where Islamic parties such as Al Wefaq attacked concert goers.[4][5]

The concert also introduced the local heavy metal scene to Motör Militia, who famously opened their set with a cover of Slayer's "Raining Blood". The band's live show attracted over a thousand of the attendants,[3] filling the performance venue to the brim. Concert goers were enthralled by the band's setlist, performing many songs few bands had ever attempted before. This included Pantera's "Fucking Hostile", Megadeth's "Peace Sells", Fear Factory's "Martyr", and Metallica's "The Four Horsemen". The band closed their twelve song set with Slayer's "Angel of Death". The song choice reflected the maturity the band had developed, and showcased the thrash metal direction the band became famous for.

Friendly Violent Fun 2 and 'Thrash on Ice' (November 2003 - March 2004)

Mahmood (right) and Yousef performing at the second Friendly Violent Fun festival, FVF2.

After the success of FVF, there was much anticipation from the public for another concert of its kind. In response, Muijrers set out at the dawn of the new year to continue the festival's spirit with a second one to take place in a larger venue, host more bands, and contain a more elaborate light show. Over the course of a month, answers to the performance offers proved plentiful: nine bands had signed up to play at FVF2,[1] among them were heavy metal bands Backtorn and Bruttal, and nu metal band All Good Children. In addition to Motör Militia, other performers from the first FVF included Dive, Vulcan, and Illusions.

Although troubles initially arose in finding a venue to house such an event, Muijrers eventually settled with another large indoors venue located at the Al-Ahli Club in Zinj, Bahrain that was normally used for traditional Arabic plays. In order to support the increased budget, Muijrers also involved Pepsi and Domino’s Pizza through Ahmadi Industries to take part in the event. Strictly speaking, however, they did not sponsor the concert. Instead, they set up kiosks at the venue to sell food and beverages in exchange for a percentage of the profits.

After the date of February 19, 2004 had been set, promotion for the event began. Once again, Yousef took it upon himself to design all the posters, fliers, tickets, and band passes - as he did for the first FVF.[3]

While the concert was heavily promoted by fliers distributed throughout the country in addition to word of mouth, it ended up yielding only about 800 people by the time the concert finished—about half of what the first FVF had achieved. The primary reason for this was that the concert had taken place on the same day as a free Formula One drag race event, in promotion of the F1 races that were happening later in the year, that attracted many of the freelancing attendants that day.

The group performing at FVF2.

Regardless of the attendance turnout, Motör Militia drew in many of the concert goers as one of the event's headliners. Their set list further established their presence in Bahrain, performing more songs that other groups had never attempted, such as Slayer's "War Ensemble", Pantera's "Domination", and a mash-up of Metallica's "The Four Horsemen" and Megadeth's "The Mechanix" retitled to "The Four Mechanix" - its music was identical to The Mechanix while it used The Four Horsemen's lyrics.

A month later, in March 2004, the band performed with local hard rock groups Armageddon and Backtorn at a low key concert called Thrash on Ice - appropriately being held in the Fun Land Center Ice Rink, located in Bahrain's capital city, Manama. Their setlist was similar to what had been performed at FVF2, and the group still managed to attract a large audience - despite the initially low turnout and small space that made up the attendance area separate from the actual ice rink.

'Rock Issues' and a Record Deal (April 2004)

By April 2004, the band had garnered a strong local following and was beginning to establish themselves in other Middle Eastern heavy metal scenes—thanks largely to substantial word of mouth and internet promotion. It was around this time that guitarist Yousef Hatlani found out about a Middle Eastern heavy metal website and community based in Saudi Arabia called SA Metal and began talking to one of its founders, Kamal Khalil (known online as "sledge hammer"[6]).

Motör Militia on stage at "Rock Issues", the night they were signed by SandStorms Records.

He eventually invited Kamal to "Rock Issues" - a local Bahraini DIY gig occurring on April 22 that was to be held in the performance venue of a Thai restaurant called Baan Saeng Thai, where Motör Militia were one of the main performers of the night. He agreed to come and arranged to interview the band after the concert.

Kamal arrived at the gig with other people associated with the website, watched the band perform, and went through with the interview. Impressed with their unique set list and stage presence, he also shed light on an independent record label he was starting named SandStorms Records and that he was interested in signing them. The band agreed to the proposition and were soon being promoted online by Kamal's website, eventually landing interviews with various online Indie Heavy Metal zines.

The following week, the band performed at another gig called "The Underground Asylum" that was being held in the same venue. Due to feeling confined to playing only Thrash metal, live guitarist Salem Sulaibeekh suddenly quit the band a week after that with an interest in forming his own group that would put more of an emphasis on Power metal.

Allegations of Satanism in Bahraini Media (April - May 2004)

Many Bahraini heavy metal bands came under fire in late April 2004 when local publication the Gulf Daily News began writing a series of articles that accused local rock concerts of being covers for satanic rituals.[3][7][8][9]

The first of the articles was published the day after the "Rock Issues" concert took place. It claimed that members of the audience "danced until they were drunk with hysteria",[8] despite the fact that no alcohol was served at the event.[8] It continued by saying that the police had attempted to shut down the concert but were unable to catch its attendants, who supposedly ran away. This also did not happen, as Motör Militia were scheduled to be among the last performers of the night, and the concert was still going on by the time they took the stage and after they ended their set. Furthermore, the interview with the band conducted by SA Metal immediately after the concert did not indicate any altercations with the police.[10]

An article published two and a half weeks later revealed that the source of these claims was Bahraini MP Mohammed Khalid,[8] who said he had secret meetings with two anonymous upper class Bahraini's "who admitted to him that they worship the devil"[9] and also disclosed the activities that listeners of heavy metal participate in. The article claimed that acts included "screaming in cemeteries" and not bathing for a week before a concert is held.[11] A Blabbermouth article further revealed that the list of alleged acts included "perverted sex"[9] and the consumption of alcohol,[9] which is forbidden in Islam. It also claimed that they kidnap and murder little children.[9] The organizer of "Rock Issues", identified as Mohammed Ishaq - then also the drummer for local rock band Illusions, denied all claims, and added that "such allegations do a lot of harm to innocent people".[8]

The stories quickly spread to various other Bahraini newspapers, including Akhbar Al Khaleej, attempting to raise awareness on such activities throughout the Middle East. This chain of events swiftly made organizing rock and heavy metal concerts a much more difficult task than before, something that has hampered the Bahraini heavy metal community even to this day.[3] Yousef explained in November 2006 that there is now nothing abnormal with someone from the Bahraini Ministry of Tourism arriving at a heavy metal concert, "looking around, turning the house lights on and telling everyone that the show is over".[3]

'The Sound of Violence' (June - July 2004)

Main article The Sound of Violence (album)

With a record deal in place and a growing fan base, the band made the decision to perform mostly original songs and keep covers at a minimum.[1] After performing in mid-May as a three piece at the Third annual Ibn Khuldoon Talent Show, Motör Militia started work in early June to write and rehearse more new material for the recording of an album. Quickly, the songs were written and reworked over the course of about two weeks. The group then compiled both their new and old material and booked time in a small recording studio located in an Industrial district of Bahrain named Salmabad, provided by a local sound & lights company called Hilwan.

Reflecting their DIY ethics, the album was recorded with few overdubs and in roughly the same order as on the record - with all of the music recorded live in the studio in about three five-hour sessions (the vocals and guitar solos were recorded in separate sessions). Similar to what he had done for concerts in the past, Yousef designed all artwork for the album. The band financed the production themselves, while their record label kept promoting them online.

More recently, however, Muijrers and Yousef have noted that they have always been disappointed with the production of the album and that the band would like to remaster it, given the opportunity.[3]

Friendly Violent Fun 3 (July 2004)

'The Dark Reign' and hiatus (July 2005)

Main article The Dark Reign

Current status

On September 5, 2007, vocalist and bassist Mahmood Abdul Ghaffar announced on his message board that he and drummer Abdulla Muijrers were getting back together to rejuvenate Motör Militia and begin songwriting on a new record to be titled "Al Nakba".[12] Guitarist Yousef Hatlani assumed the position of the band's webmaster, and put up the band's first MySpace page a day later. Due to the fact that Yousef still lives overseas in the United States, the group will perform live with session musicians for the time being. However, he confirmed in the same announcement that he does still play guitar in the band and may record with the rest of the group by sending tracks over the Internet.

As of yet, Mahmood is currently a student at the American University Sharjah - though he is in Bahrain until Winter Quarter begins in January. Muijrers is also currently living in the country, while Yousef is in Oregon studying at Portland State University.[3]

Nowadays, Mahmood also runs a message board called Moody, which sets out to inform users about the truths of Islam that he feels are misrepresented in Western media.[13] He started the website after finding his faith in Islam again, stating that he considers himself "a true Muslim".[14] Muijrers additionally plays drums in a band called Pangea, and their music can be found on MySpace.


Current members

  • Mahmood Abdul Ghaffar – vocals, Bass (2001 – present)
  • Yousef Hatlani – guitars (2003 – present)
  • Abdulla Muijrers – drums (2001 – present)

Former members

  • Amer BuHussain – guitars (2001–2003)
  • Khalifa Kamal – guitars (2002–2003)
  • Mohammed Bukannan – guitars (March 2003 - June 2003)
  • Salem Sulaibeekh – guitars (June 2003 - April 2004, July 2004)
  • Yousif Mufeez – Session guitarist (July 2005)



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