It’s no shock that being a metal musician is hard. It’s also not hard to imagine that being a metal musician from the Middle East is unbelievably difficult. In most of the western world, (mainly the US and Europe), metal gets a few dirty looks and some ignorant comments about loving Satan. We still play the music. It’s not like you could be thrown in prison for it.
That’s where you’d be wrong. We got word today that members of an Iranian thrash metal band, Confess, have been jailed for just this. In a society dominated by religion, it’s unfortunately a sad truth for the music scene. What’s even worse is that they’ve been incarcerated since November. Nikan Siyanor Khosravi and Khosravi Arash ‘Chemical’ Ilkhani have been (officially) charged with:
“Blasphmy; Advertising against the system; form and running an illigal and underground band and record label in the satanic “Metal & Rock” music style!; writing anti-religion & athiestic, politcal & anarchistic lyrics and interview with forbiden foregin radio stations.”
This excerpt came from a poorly translated message sent to the band’s promoter, Trev McKendry. Basically, they’ve been arrested for going against religion and the government with their band. The writer of the message, who is anonymous, goes on to say that all social media accounts have been seized by the government, and are still fighting with the courts. You can read the full statement here.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time a Middle Eastern metal band has encountered something like this. In 2009, we wrote about a documentary called Heavy Metal in Baghdad, following Iraqi group Acrassicauda and their struggle to leave the country. Vice (who documented the band for six years) played a major part in getting them to America, and they’ve since gone on to sign to Vice Records and have released an album on their own label.
It’s incredibly upsetting. Hopeully the media attention will help Confess in their legal battle in Iran.