Metal Takes A Stand: Meet The Bands Making A Difference
From the US to Saudi Arabia, bands around the world are standing up to fight for our future
Metal is awash with great bands standing up and making a difference. Here are a few fighting the good fights – and how you can help them.
Meet Saudi Arabia's first black metal band – and why they're risking their lives to fight a religious regime.
It's easy for us to take our civil liberties for granted – most of us can openly speak against the government, religion and ruling powers without fear of being dragged from our beds in the night. For Saudi Arabia's black metallers Al-Namrood, however, there is no such luxury. Which is why their decision to persevere with playing gnarly, anti-religious noise is a gleaming symbol of metal's power, but even more so, the power of standing for what you believe in.
“None of us thought to meet a like-minded person in Saudi,” says guitarist Mephisto. “It was a plain coincidence that we all met at the same party. There, we discussed our goals of creating a metal band.”
While they knew that creating such an abrasive style of music together could draw the ire of a radical Islamic state, the trio felt that the opportunity to make something special couldn't be ignored. Wearing masks and going under pseudonyms so as to go under the radar of the Saudi authorities as much as possible, the threesome set about merging the traditional sounds of their homeland with the crusty racket of black metal. Al-Namrood was born.
“Publicly playing metal here is forbidden,” explains the axeman. “Metal itself is considered a taboo, and if someone was revealed as having an involvement with metal, they might face charges. If a judge so decides, someone could be sentenced to imprisonment and hundreds of lashes...or execution by beheading. So, we have to avoid getting caught.”
“We focus on anti-religious lyrics because religion directly impacts our lives,” states Mephisto flatly. “For you guys in the UK, religion might not affect you because it's not a regime or an imposed system, and your constitution covers freedom of religion and separation of religion from state. We have consistently been abused by religion; controlling our lives, restricting our freedoms and providing clear injustice in the jurisdiction system.”
So far one member of the band – completed by Humbaba (Vocals) and Ostron (Keyboardist) – has been arrested, though Mephisto won't reveal who or what happened with the case, but he and his band's brave, audacious mission remains undettered.
“Simply, we want to be free to tour the world,” he concludes. “This struggle in Saudi makes us appreciate freedom even more, so when that day comes, we will value the true meaning of freedom.”
To read more on the situation in Saudi Arabia, head to www.freedomhouse.org