Flyin’ Up, Norvi and more at VM Bar (2022)

VM Bar (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)

Flyin’ Up, Norvi, My Own Shiva
It's not often the tendrils of heavy metal extend their way into Central Asia, but […]
By Steve Lochi
December 6, 2022

It's not often the tendrils of heavy metal extend their way into Central Asia, but on this brisk late November night, three bands managed to bring the noise to VM Bar, a small underground rock club in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Local band FLYIN UP is a psychedelic ethnic post-metal band; NORVI brings a modern take to nu-metal from Kazakhstan, and MY OWN SHIVA export their spiritual version of metalcore from Kyrgyzstan.

Local favorites FLYIN UP laid the foundation for the evening. Their songs are patient explorations of the space and time we dwell in, interspersed with elements of the local region and the Uzbek language, which make them truly special. The band consists of five unimposing guys who look like they'd fit in easily at a local coffee shop, and yet they reach crescendos of such metallic glory that they end up looking like they were sent down by the gods to reach into your guts and rip 'em out. Their set was filled with delicate passages of delay-drenched guitars interlaced with sonic booms of celebration. For almost ninety minutes, they took the crowd on a sonic journey, a throwback to the days when warriors in the army of Uzbek conqueror Amir Timur laid waste to their enemies across the Central Asian plain. It is music drenched in spirit, infused with the rich history of the region, a soundtrack for the unheard masses of this former Soviet republic. By the end of the set, the crowd had surged to the front and the palette was set. FLYIN UP is a band that would fit right in on a festival stage with such post-metal luminaries as ELDER, RUSSIAN CIRCLES and CULT OF LUNA. Indeed, with the right management these guys could lay waste to the world of metal just as Timur did to his ancient enemies.

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Next up were NORVI from Kazakhstan. NORVI consists of four intimidatingly big guys from the rugged mountains of the former Soviet Union, and their sound is equally huge.  They came with one job: to get this crowd of a few hundred people on their feet and off their feet, and back on their feet and off their feet again. Repeat until said crowd is moshing emphatically to NORVI's varied take on nu-metallic metalcore.  Lead singer Pavlo has a powerful, varied voice that can handle the sustained high-end notes of clean singing and the guttural growls that are the rancid bread and butter of metalcore. The band was supported by a steady stream of electronic sounds and melodies that didn't take away from the heavy metal power they brought to Tashkent. NORVI's take on metalcore isn't necessarily a novel one, but it's one they've developed quite an aptitude for, and by the end of their short set the crowd was reduced to a sweaty, moshing pulp.

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The final band of the evening were Bishkek's MY OWN SHIVA. The band started out by distributing dozens of sticks of lit incense to the audience, who held them high as if they were the cigarette lighters of yore, filling the room with the faint scent of sandalwood and lavender, a tribute to Shiva the Destroyer.  But this is no band committed to the teachings of Hindu: indeed, MY OWN SHIVA plot their own spiritual journey, each band member working together to create an almost meditative approach to what is essentially full-on metalcore.  The band even starts in a meditative state: hands close together in a pagan prayer, eyes closed, bodies still, mentally preparing for the brutal barrage of metal that would ensue for the next hour or so.  Like metalcore luminaries AS I LAY DYING or BRING ME THE HORIZON,  they put the groove at the forefront of their song-writing, but their deceptively simple song-structures and spiritual underpinnings put them in a unique sub-genre all their own. MY OWN SHIVA's songs are about injustice and how spirituality often falls victim to the governments and corporations who put their own desire for power and money ahead of the good of the people.  It's metal grounded in the space they come from, making it an integral, powerful contribution to the intentions of the few artists from this region brave enough to make their voices heard.

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At the end of the night, everyone in that Tashkent bar left feeling triumphant. Heavy metal and heavy music aren't just the children of the Western world.  In the hands of the musicians in FLYIN UP, NORVI and MY OWN SHIVA, it becomes a message to their fans and beyond: the spirit of the music belongs to all of us, and all of us have something unique and special to add to this glorious world of metal.  Be it Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, or Uzbekistan, power chords and blast beats can unite us all.


Mikhail Efimenko - Vocals
Vadim Bykov - Drums
Andrey Alf - Guitar
Boris Vyatkin - Bass


No Home
Call of Banshee
Fight On!
Moment of Eternity
Conviction / Holograms


Jasur Khudayberdiyev - Vocals
Artem Shcherbakov - Drums
Vladislav Dostavalov - Bass
Sanjar Ismatov - Guitar
Rinat Bayburin - Guitar


What a time to be alive
The false idea of who you are
Burning plane

NORVI is -

lya - Guitar
Pavlo - Vocals
Maxim - Drums
Yaroslav - Bass
Anton - Vocals


Abandon all hope
To the end

Live Report and Photos by: Steve Loschi

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