Dubai-based band Nervecell
“The best rock is a religious experience,” says Mark Levine, author of Heavy Metal Islam. Yes, sure, but as history has shown, since man first grew hair on his ass, if you happen to belong to the wrong religion, it’s reason enough for you to die in a hail of bullets. And when your religion is “the best rock,” you risk oppression from the get-go. Certain areas of the Middle East are notorious for incarcerating metal fans and banning the music altogether. But the survival and growth of metal among Middle Eastern youth has been a buzzing topic for the past handful of years. Recently, Al Jazeera’s Playlist program featured a slew of Middle Eastern metallers offering their spin on the social impact that the music carries. “There’s something very liberating with staring anger and evil in the face and just saying whatever’s on your mind,” says Avital Tamir, vocalist of Israeli band Betzefer. And that goes for everyone, whether you’re Muslim, Jewish, Christian, whatever. (Levine likens the bobbing rhythmic motions of Muslim and Jewish prayer practices to headbanging.) But the warriors of these metal bands are creating something that is truly their own by using instruments and beats that are specific to their culture, as opposed to simply aping Slayer (please, we have enough of those bands on this side of the world, thanks). Have a look at parts one and two, below.