THE EVERLASTING LEGEND OF OSIRIS
How a prog-rock band shaped the future of Bahrain’s music scene against all odds and became one of the lasting legacies of the golden age of the 1980s and 90s. Decades later, they remain just as relevant.
If you ask any Bahraini musician about their local musical influence, they will likely mention one of these artists: Ali Bahar, the pained, soulful singer songwriter, and Osiris the most impactful and popular rock outfit to emerge from this island.
Osiris rose to prominence through hardship, but were pretty much the poster boys of the local rock scene, mastering the art of progressive rock to the extent of gaining followers well beyond the borders, and across the seas.
The origins of the band are traced to two brothers – Mohamed and Nabil Al Sadeqi – who were interested in music from an early age, having been raised in a pretty musical family. By the age of 11 Mohamed could shred a guitar and Nabil, aged 8, could play the drums.
Their early fascination with The Beatles quickly made way for bands such as Deep Purple, Jethro Tull and Yes, as the wave of progressive rock reached its peak. After years of jamming together, the two decided to put together a band – to play their own brand of progressive rock.
The journey to find the right mix of musicians was challenging, as many musicians in Bahrain at the time were either not familiar with the genre, or simply not interested in playing it. Eventually, the two settled on a lineup and managed to put together their very first live show at the end of 1981 in a small hall in Isa Town.
But this was no ordinary gig. The brothers were not just all about the music, they wanted to put on a proper show. Frontman at the time, Isa Janahi, wore a garish outfit – cape and all – and mesmerized the audience with his bigger-than-life stage presence, all amidst a colorful and intense light show, lasers and smoke machines.
The band played a couple of more memorable shows before deciding to shift their focus on writing and recording their first album. With limited resources, the band hired a studio – one of the only professional studios in Bahrain at the time – and went to work.
"The band rehearsed extensively before hitting the recording room for six straight hours a day, and wrapped up recording and mixing of eight tracks in just three days."
Their self-titled debut was well received selling hundreds of units in Bahrain, and surprisingly in the Philippines, where the albums was pressed. Four years later, they dropped their second album ‘Myths & Legends’ followed by 1989’s ‘Reflection’. By then the band has grown in stature and reputation, earning them a TV special – featuring live footage of two shows.
But it was their fourth studio album, 1991’s ‘Visions from the Past’, that saw a turning point in their musical journey. The band began experimenting with fusing traditional music with the progressive rock sound they’ve perfected over the years. The pearl diving inspired percussion would become an Osiris hallmark and one that would define their legacy.
Osiris has gone through a lot of iterations and reinventions, but it has remained a constant in the local music scene. Their impact is undeniable. Many still consider them the ultimate Bahraini rock band. Their musicianship, their complex and layered songwriting, high and consistent production quality, and flair for showmanship, have left a mark on a generation of artists and musicians across the Gulf region.
Even though they have not been very active in recent years – their most recent being a 2011 memorable concert which was filmed and released on DVD – they have been active behind closed door.
The group still meets and jams regularly in the studio, and has in fact been busy writing and recording material for a new album, titled 'Take a Closer Look', arguably the most anticipated Bahraini release of 2020.