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A Glance over Metal from an Iranian's Point of View

Written by: Mephistopholes1
Published: 21.07.2013

Note: This is a somewhat brief look into the history of metal inside Iran, based on my own personal knowledge and experiences.

Being an active member of Metal Storm, you'd probably noticed the huge amount of Iranian users on this site - even though most of them use this site to add their collection and have a .txt file ready to send to potential buyers - but this goes without saying that the metal scene inside Iran is somewhat active. Despite all the cultural taboos and censorship, Iranians are open to Metal - sometimes even more deep into it than many European listeners - and eventually some Iranian bands come up with a very decent album, making their fellow countrymen metalheads proud, in a way. But it hasn't always been like this; the Metal scene in Iran started very late compared to even some of the Far East bands, partly due to the cultural exposure of those countries to the western scene. In this article I will try to go through the history of metal decade by decade, and compare it with the scene (if it existed) inside Iran.

While in the 1950s, the western scene was expanding with Blues guitarists such as Willie Johnson and Pat Hare, an Iranian pop sensation called Viguen introduced the guitar to the Iranian music scene for the first time. This started the era which is called the Golden Age of Persian Pop Music and lasted well up to the 2000s, with some of those artists still releasing new songs today.

In 1968, Blue Cheer released a cover of "Summertime Blues" which is considered by many to be the first ever heavy metal piece of music. While heavy metal was emerging with bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, KISS, etc., in the European and American scenes, Iranian rock music began to appear in events, such as Shiraz Arts Festival, where local bands would play covers of The Beatles, The Doors, Deep Purple and other sensational artists of the times. Although the main focus of the music scene and the youth was still on the Persian Pop scene, like any other society, some individuals started to focus on this new, harsh and bizarre sound that was taking the world by storm. Unfortunately, the Islamic Revolution of 1979 brought an end to a promising start of jazz, rock, blues and even the heavy metal scene of Iran, forcing many of those musicians to flee the country along with the pop stars, or resorting to opening a shop and selling instruments (although those shops were also raided by extremists in the first years of the revolution.)

Despite all the restrictions, those few youngsters who listened to bands like Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and such, kept their passion for the genre and despite the lack of internet and physical records getting into the country, managed to get their hands on the new albums of their favorite bands, passing those on cassettes and VHS tapes to the next generation. After the heat of the evolution and Iran-Iraq war wore off a little bit, a noticeable number of young Iranians were fans of heavy and thrash metal subgenres, especially bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. in the 1990s, President Mohammad Khatami came as a reformist, allowing for the music scene to be a little bit more open. During that time, copied versions of rock and metal music could be found within the streets of Tehran, and several underground rock or metal concerts were performed, although the audience was seated throughout the whole show, and sometimes shows were done without any vocals.

In the late 90s and up to the 2000s, rock, followed by metal, was doing quite fine in the Iranian Scene. The kids who were born in the times of war were now the youngsters. Heavily influenced by bands like Pink Floyd or Metallica, they were starting to record their own albums and perform underground. With the addition of the internet, Iranians were exposed to a huge goldmine of music they had never heard the likes of before, and it helped refine the taste of those who were starting their own bands. Progressive rock and metal became the craze of those in the scene, with some solid bands like Oriental Silence emerging, but failing to keep on recording new songs and the members eventually resorting to teaching guitar to the next generation, or recording with the new pop artists. With the help of the internet, some forums were made, dedicated to rock or metal, attracting the newcomers to the genre and introducing some fine new artists to them to explore. Because of the bans on the record sales in Iran, almost all of the metalheads here acquired their collection with the help of some Russian or South American blogs and websites uploading every new album there is.

Eventually Iranian metalheads became familiar with other subgenres of metal, and a wave of black metal and death metal bands from Iran started releasing new, mostly uninspiring, records. Certain bands were hits throughout the times. While Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and some other major heavy and thrash bands still being widely popular, newer generations fell in love with Burzum, Mayhem, My Dying Bride, Slipknot and of course, Anathema. Then there were some Iranian artists playing for European bands, like Mehdi Vafaei for Abandon, or Siavosh Bigonah on Slumber and Atoma and these bands seemed to have a huge Iranian following just because of that. Metal Storm was favored over other encyclopedic metal websites, probably because of the visual beauty it has over its competition, and as you may remember, the topic about MS being filtered in Iran a few years ago brought a new wave of Iranian users to the site. (Oh, the irony!)

Nowadays with the metal scene exploding with new bands and mixed genres, the Iranians seem to still be big fans of death and black metal, in addition to Metallica, metalcore is becoming the new favorite of kids these days, with bands like Bullet For My Valentine and As I Lay Dying leading the scene, probably because "that guy has such beautiful tattoos" or "he looks cute even when he's screaming".

In conclusion, with bands like Angband (being the first ever Iranian band to be signed to a European Label) and festivals like the first Iranian Metal Festival, and tribute albums to Metallica and Pink Floyd being recognized by the bands and their fans, the future of the Iranian Metal Scene seems to be a good one; not a great, full-of-gems one, but a good one to be keeping an eye on. So I'm sorry if I sounded repetitive or dull throughout this article, but I had this epiphany that I should write about what I knew, and although its not quite what I was expecting it to be, I hope you enjoyed reading about it. Cheers!

P.S. If you are into progressive music, you should check out Oriental Silence, you won't be disappointed. Most of their work can be found on Youtube. Here's a little preview:

P.P.S. If you are interested in looking into the Iranian Metal catalogue, you should check out this, or this.

Guest article disclaimer:
This is a guest article, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 34   Visited by: 146 users
05.08.2013 - 05:41

Amazing article and thanks for the music
05.08.2013 - 19:30
Written by Rulatore on 05.08.2013 at 05:41

Amazing article and thanks for the music

You're welcome!
If you have time, read into the comments, there has been some good points noted out by people that I missed out.
18.09.2014 - 13:51
Good article, enjoyed reading it.

On a side note, Fritillaria was right about some missing points but I don't agree with her attitude that much, not that big of a deal it is for me 'cause I think you've tried to describe the scene, community and situations you've encountered and you've add the "based on my own personal knowledge and experiences"... so, no problem on that I guess.

Anyway, I think the future is not written in stone and it can be brighter (music-wise). And in contrast to Pink Floyd lyrics, we need education, or it will be "cool" and "true metal" songs all over.
24.06.2021 - 15:16

We need metal covers of persian pop classics !
imagine a metal cover of "Saghi" or "Ravi"
Ride a horse that's cleaving through the air and space of dreams.

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