(TheMadIsraeli’s former boss at The Metal Register, Kyle Brady, requested that he write a piece on Middle Eastern metal, and here we have it. We’ve spotlighted bands from that region in previous writing at NCS, and I’ll add some further examples at the end of this post.)
When I say “Middle East”, what comes to mind? War? Brutal weather conditions? The desolation of endless expanse of desert? Regardless of what you think of, it’s probably not a region you’d immediately associate with metal, but with the evolution of the internet and the advent of file-sharing, becoming a successful band over there is slowly but surely becoming more of an option as we speak. As a result, over the last four so years, a rash of bands have cropped up who are proving they’re already prepared to take the world by storm.
Consider this a sort of primer, or introduction to bands from the Middle East, with a mix of older and newer. Without further delay let’s begin doing a little analysis of the kind of shit we got going on over there.
One cannot discuss metal from this part of the world without touching on blackened thrashers Melechesh. Definitely one of the longest running bands from the Middle East, their brand of black metal chaos, thrash technicality, and ethnically oriented musical and lyrical incorporations have turned them into a sure force to be reckoned with. At one time hailing from Jerusalem itself (later moving to the Netherlands), their influence on the Middle Eastern scene cannot be denied.
Deathtune is an Iranian old-school groove-based death metal band with a beefy aesthetic and enough power to punch a meteor-sized crater into the earth. You may remember that we featured them and their video for “No War” here. Doing this perhaps even at potential risk to their freedom, this band delivers music with some real honesty and passion behind it. They are currently recording their debut full-length.
Prey For Nothing is a progressive death metal band hailing, once again, from Israel. They play a profound combination of death metal, groove, thrash, black metal, and even some slight hints of heavier power metal ala Symphony X. They currently have two albums out, Divine Violence, released in 2008, and Against All Good And Evil, released last year.
Now is where I’ve simply jumped into Metal Archives, gone through a list of bands located Middle Eastern countries, and compiled some examples of shit that sounded good: 1000 Funerals (Iran), Tension Prophecy (Iran), Asgaut (Israel), Human Sector (Israel), and Brutus (Egypt):
Now it’s time for you to help widen this pool of selections in the Comments. Help us find and share other shit from the Middle East.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To help start this off, here are links to previous NCS posts about other bands with their roots in either the Middle East or North Africa. You can also explore more of the region’s music via one of the the free compilations produced by the Cairo-based METALITY blog (the second of which we co-sponsored and wrote about here).
Voice of the Soul (U.S./Lebanon/Iraq/others)
Orphaned Land (Israel/Palestine)
Al-Namrood (Saudi Arabia)
The first one I can think of that’s not already mentioned is Acrassicauda. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXxt3SiGvTg Even though they’ve now relocated to this side of the world.
It was a surreal experience to watch their Heavy Metal in Baghdad documentary while being in Baghdad during the surge, then years later standing face to face with them headbanging along to their triumphant Main-billing gig in my home turf. There were so many things I wanted to tell them and ask them, but since I was somewhat starstruck (and heavily intoxicated) the most I could muster was “you guys rocked, glad you made it here”. From what I gathered, that was enough.
Just . . . wow.
Great pick byrd.
One had been meaning to mention them and the documentary. But, you beat me to it.
Powerful stuff. Good call.
I was going to suggest 1000 Funerals, but you beat me to it. They’re quite good. You missed Ayat (Lebanon), Promiscuity (Israel), Thrown to the Sun (Turkey), and Tamut Amen (Israel). Sonne Adam (Israel) is also out there, but in my opinion not that great.
I reviewed Thrown To The Sun’s debut with a free download of the album included =)
You know I am gonna throw down on the folk tip. al-Qaynah, based in Afghanistan:
Their music is like being attacked by bees on PCP and speed while a desert shaman watches and giggles.
Hah! Scott Ian just got out-Scott-Ianed….
Melechesh kicked fucking ass.
Deathtune was goddamn solid. Like a brick of gold. You mentioned that they were doing this at the possible cost of their freedom….any chance you could elaborate on this? Is heavy metal banned in Iran? Or was it the content of their video/lyrics or something else?
Don’t know what TheMadIsraeli had in mind, but this NPR interview suggests that being a metal band in iran can get you killed:
I’ve also read that, technically, rock and metal bands are required to submit their music for approval to the Iranian Ministry of Culture, and permits are required for public performances, which are rarely granted. There’s also an interesting 2009 article at The Huffington Post, which includes this:
“When I last visited Iran I was amazed at how vibrant, and how courageous, the heavy metal and Hip Hop scenes had become. Long before the current violence, metalheads were willing to risk arrest, forced haircuts in jail, beatings and even threats to their families in order to pursue the music they love.”
Ah, that must be what he was referring to. For some reason, I thought he meant something more specific.
And Arsames, a DM band from Iran.
An Arsames track was included in that METALITY comp we co-sponsored. I endorse your recommendation:
Ahhh, that’s where that came from. I had Arsames in my playlists but didn’t remember where I’d heard of them. Should have known. I heartily recommend your endorsement of my recommendation.
I really liked the old school feel of Deathtune. Powerful video too.
If one may interject – A recent discovery via The Number of the Blog (before their untimely demise): Thrown to the Sun from Istanbul. Their 2011 debut Of Oceans and Raindrops was quite decent.
One realizes it has been mentioned by TheMadIsraeli before. But, one felt it was worth mentioning again.
…But, do they count as middle-eastern one wonders.
Turkey is both middle-eastern and European and that is why it is such an interesting country. On one hand it’s a member of EU and has a secular constitution on the other it has a large Muslim population and shares borders with both Iran and Iraq.
Also Arkan, although they are based out of France, dunno if that counts. They’re still pretty good though.
I have to second Arkan – they certainly don’t SOUND French…