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Band History

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Sometimes the most unexpected things happen to the most unexpected people in the most unexpected places. Indeed if you were to tell me just 10 years ago that a group of friends from Cairo, Egypt will form a metal band and achieve a level of success I would've kindly asked you to pass the LSD! Let's face it, Egyptian culture is not the most liberal in the world, and these things just do not happen there! But they say that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction; and even though at one point things did come crashing down all around them, one band stood above the fray and lived to tell its triumphant story. That band is called Vyrus, and this is their story.

The first incarnation of Vyrus was formed in 1992 by Mostafa Mito and Amr Costandi. The original line-up featured Mostafa playing rhythm guitar, Costandi playing bass, Tamer el Zoaiby on lead guitar, Ramy El Mamlouk on the mic, and Osama Sarraf on the skins. The band's first performance was on August 10, 1993 in Costandi's living room for a few friends. Soon after that the band was temporarily dissolved as Tamer and Ramy lost interest and Costandi and Osama left the country to pursue higher education. Mostafa was the sole surviving member, he dropped the guitar in favor of bass.

In 1994, Mostafa and joined a local band called Dementia with Mohammed Gaber on vocals, Wael Rafik playing drums, and Tamer Younes playing lead guitar. That was the first time Mostafa and Tamer ran into each other and little did they know the significance of that hand that fate dealt them. Dementia played a few gigs featuring covers of Black Sabbath, Megadeth, and Nirvana songs among others. Tamer Younes soon left the band for another project and the band split up.

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In 1995 Costandi returned to Egypt for the summer. He and Mostafa resurrected Vyrus as a threesome with Wael Rafik (ex-Dementia) on drums. This time around, Costandi played guitar while Mostafa played the bass and took over vocal duties. Over the course of that summer, Vyrus performed a series of gigs all over Cairo, often joined by friends on stage to jam on some of their favorite songs. Some of the musicians invited onstage were Tamer Younes, Amir el Mirghani, Mohamed Gaber, Tamer el Zoaiby, and Taymour Reda. When Costandi left for the States at the end of the summer, Taymour signed on to fill the gap for the rest of the gigs and later joined on full time. And the band played on…
Mostafa and Tamer Younes had developed a strong friendship over the years and later in '95 decided to join forces. The first Vyrus OUTBREAK was on!!! This line-up had Mostafa singing and playing bass, Tamer on lead guitar, Taymour on rhythm guitar, and Wael on drums. The band's first studio experience came in early 1996 when they decided to pay tribute to one of their influences and recorded their version of the Megadeth hit Symphony of Destruction. The song received very strong radio airplay and generated hundreds of call-ins requesting it over and over.
Being the perfectionists that they are, the band searched high and low for the "right" vocalist but no one seemed to fit the bill. That is, until one Ahmed Bashir (a friend of theirs and guitarist in his own right), while attending one of their rehearsals, coincidentally stood in front of the mic and sang Megadeth's A Tout Le Monde. From there on there was no turning back!! Realizing how talented Bashir was, the band asked him to join Vyrus on the spot—which he did.

vyrus0007.jpg (6672 bytes)1996 was a very big year for Vyrus. They played several successful gigs featuring some of the most challenging songs by artists such as Megadeth, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and Pantera, to name a few. Later that year, they parted ways with Wael (who wanted to study jazz) and Taymour (who left for the States). But, rather than being daunted by the departures, the band moved from strength to strength by enlisting the talents of ex-Nightwing drummer Mohammed Saad, realizing that a four member band is always the most successful, Bashir took up the rhythm axe along with vocals.

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With the tragic incident that took place in January 1997, the entire Egyptian music scene was all but wiped away. The rationale adopted by the Egyptian Government was that if you were a teen-aged male/female who listened to metal and wore black shirts, then you were automatically branded an animal-killing, blood-drinking, child-raping satanist!! (??) Needless to say, the atmosphere soon after that was very emotionally charged and even dangerous. The only band crazy enough to play in such an electric environment was—yup, you guessed it—VYRUS. The triumphant return occurred in September 1997 when Vyrus stormed their way through a blistering set of old and new favorites. "Sure we were a little scared at first, but at the same time, we knew and believed that we did nothing wrong and it is not a crime to play metal music," was how Mostafa expressed his feelings soon after that gig. The first song the band played was Enter Sandman and from the very first strains of the majestic intro the crowd response was deafening!! "The kids were headbanging and stage-diving and just going wild!! We were very impressed and very happy that we brought the whole metal scene back to Egypt" -- Tamer Younes, September 1997.

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What's next for the band? The next milestone Vyrus would like to achieve is the recording of an album. They already have a lot of original material written and it's only a matter of time before it is all compiled and recorded in the studio. "We wanna release an album that'll crush all the masses and start a musical revolution, kinda like what Kill em All did in the early '80s." -- Mostafa Mito (Nov. '98).

And you know you'll be there to watch it all happen…

 

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