Heavy Metal East: “Music is the weapon of the future”


Moe Hamzeh of The Kordz during the Cedar Revolution, photo by Lynsey Addario

My piece on the growing heavy metal culture in the Middle East is up on Coilhouse:

In 2007, the documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad chronicled the trials of Acrassicauda, dubbed “Iraq’s only heavy metal band.” No doubt many did a double take at trying to reconcile visions of headbangers with environs like Iraq or Lebanon.

Part of that surprise comes from the tremendous heaping pile of bullshit out there about the Middle East. This is, in mass-media world, the land of They. Here is one teeming mass of zealots, driven as by incomprehensible creeds towards destroying you, dear viewer. Fear! Cower!

This is a lie. Growing from the very real repression and devastation faced in these lands, metal of all varieties is thriving from North Africa to Pakistan. As Moroccan metal founding father Reda Zine proclaimed: “we play heavy metal because our lives are heavy metal.”

The resulting fusion sounds both old and new. Middle Eastern metalheads have gathered in the hundreds of thousands, rivaling the Islamist rallies that induce so much hand-wringing in the West. In defense of the most basic freedoms they’ve had showdowns with dictators and fundamentalists. Sometimes, they win.

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