Lebanese musician Jean-Pierre Haddad dies aged 39: 'My home country lost a monument'

The singer and guitarist was part of the heavy metal band Kimaera

Kimaera. Couretsy Kimaera
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The Arab heavy metal community is in mourning after the death of Jean-Pierre Haddad, frontman and guitarist of Kimaera.

The Lebanese band announced the news on their social media channels on Thursday.

While the band did not reveal the cause of death, Lebanese news site IM Lebanon reported that Haddad, 39, died in his Cairo apartment from asphyxiation after a natural gas leak.

Friends of Haddad confirmed the tragedy to The National.

"It is with extreme devastation that we announce the passing of our founder, front man, and brother Jp Haddad," read a statement from Kimaera.

"Being one of the early pioneers of the Lebanese metal community, JP never lost faith in the local metal scene, while working tirelessly towards taking it internationally."

The band revealed they recently finished recording the fourth album, Imperium, to be released in March.

“It was only one week ago that the whole band received and listened to the finished new album, and while it will forever hurt to listen to JP's unique growls, we will make sure that his musical dreams, passion and legacy will always live through."

Keyboardist Charbel Abboud released his own poignant tribute to Haddad on Instagram.

"Thank you for believing in me, as a brother, as a friend, and as a bandmate," he said.

"Thank you for helping me become the man I am today. Thank you for telling me you're proud of me."

Blazing a path

Formed in Beirut in 2000 Kimaera forged a ferocious sound blending doom and death metal with Middle Eastern and symphonic melodies.

Their 2004 debut single God's Wrath created a buzz and caught the attention of Russian record label Stygian Crypt Productions, which released albums Ebony Veiled in 2006 and Solitary Impact in 2010.

By then Kimaera had completed successful tours of Europe, including appearing in Czech Republic's Masters of Rock Festival in 2010 and Latvia's Zobens Un Lemess in 2017.

The band also headlined a Dubai music festival called Metal Eastern Night in 2014.

The news of Haddad's death has devastated the tightly knit regional metal scene as he led a band hailed as pioneers for their uncompromising approach to their craft.

This is best displayed with their punishing cover of Majida Al Roumi’s Beirut Set El Donya.

Released to mark their 20th anniversary, the innovative interpretation and gothic music video was so popular that it was broadcast on mainstream Lebanese channel MTV.

El Roumi was unimpressed with the treatment, however, and stated an intention to file a copyright claim against Kimaera for their unofficial use of the song.

In a 2021 episode of YouTube series LebMetal, Haddad reflected on the controversy and put it down to the stigma associated with heavy metal in Lebanon.

"They said we were promoting violence and chaos even though it is the exact same song,” he said.

An inspiration to many

Former band manager Elia Mssawir was in charge of some of Kimaera's earlier tours.

“Because of you I started [my artist management career] because you dared me to book Kimaera for festivals in Europe. You believed in me and you literally started my career,” Mssawir wrote on Facebook.

“We talked a few days ago and it didn't cross my mind that this will be our last conversation. I'm just speaking my mind because I don't know how to express this unbelievable loss over this waterfall of tears ... I miss you man.”

Lebanese singer-songwriter Anthony Ba'a' Abdo also went on social media to describe Haddad as an inspiration.

"Yesterday, my home country lost a monument in its metal circle. RIP Jp Haddad, we'll make sure your music and vision of Kimaera will roam this world."

The Cairo Jazz Club in Egypt, where Haddad was bar manager, announced a gathering in his honour tonight. "He will be deeply missed, and always remembered as a hardworking and passionate man.”

Updated: February 27, 2022, 10:07 AM