The Middle East is a perpetual presence in world affairs – at the time of writing, the ceasefire between Syria’s government and rebel forces rests on a knife edge, Egypt’s first truly free presidential elections in decades is already mired in controversy, and the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran continue to prove inconclusive. It’s against this background of uprising and upheaval that Jon Kerr offers up this week’s Spotify Slaylist as a “horns-up” to all our Middle Eastern metal brethren.
While many metal bands originating from the Middle East have escaped from their local, oppressive political situations over the years, many of them still operate within countries where metal is still seen as blasphemous and subversive. It’s true that there are countries in the Middle East where being in a metal band isn’t a problem at all, but in countries like Bahrian, Kuwait, and several other nations within the region, bands wanting to play live or go on tour will have faced (and in some cases, have endured) problems and punishments a hell of a lot more severe than having to deal with the occasional flat tire on the van, or a promoter trying to rip them off. And yet despite all of this, an underground scene of riffing and head-banging can be found in almost every Middle Eastern state, if you look closely enough.
Listen to ‘Grand Gathas of Baal Sin’ by Melechesh:
In recognition of this, we’ve put together this week’s Sunday Slaylist in honour of the hardships many of these bands have gone through simply because of their love of the music we all take for granted. It features thirty tracks by twenty bands, all hailing* from across the Middle East. Kicking off with Iraqi thrash outfit Acrassicauda, this virtual tour of the Middle East stops off in the United Arab Emirates (Nervecell), Iran (Arsames, Kahtmayan, Angband), Israel (Betzefer, Orphaned Land), Jordan (Bilocate), Jerusalem (Melechesh – who are pictured above), Lebannon (Oath to Vanquish) and Bahrain (Smoldering in Forgotten).
Spotify is available to most of Western Europe and the USA for free – though obviously you’re better off shelling out either £5 or £10 a month for one of Spotify’s premium packages, as then you can listen to our Slaylists without having them interrupted by adverts. For our readers in countries not currently serviced by Spotify….sorry.
Watch Ted Maul explain why Muslim metal is the best while they were off their tits at Bloodstock 2008:
* Okay, so we chucked a couple of Nile tracks in there too. Karl Sanders and co. might hail from South Carolina, but we couldn’t very much have a Middle Eastern-themed Slaylist without them, now could we? (Also: Nile slay).