Socialist Worker

Rock in a hard place - the sound of rebellion

by Hossam el-Hamalawy
Issue No. 2572

Metal was the music of rebellion for young people across the Middle East

Metal was the music of rebellion for young people across the Middle East

Reading this book triggered many personal memories, as an Egyptian teenage metalhead in Cairo in the 1990s. We would barter and trade metal cassettes, we would laugh over sensationalist media articles about “Satanists” invading Egypt.

I woke up one day in 1997 to find many of my metalhead friends snatched by the police from their homes on charges of “Satanism”.

These dramatic events were not confined to Egypt. The “second wave of black metal” which engulfed Europe in the beginning of the 1990s soon arrived in the Middle East.

Metal was the music of rebellion for sections of middle class kids across the region.

Headbanging to the shrieks of Black Metal vocalists could simply have cost you your life in some countries.

In my conservative Islamic school Black Metal was our means of rebellion.

Crowcroft’s book is a detailed narrative of how the metal scene evolved in the 1990s. With extensive interviews Crowcroft narrates the difficult birth pangs of the metal scene in the Middle East.

Security crackdowns in the late 1990s almost destroyed the scene and drove it underground. They were followed by a slow revival in the 2000s up to the Arab Spring.

Crowcroft explains how the fight for political change in the years 2011-13 gave a taste of freedom. Then came the crushing of revolutions that saw a lot of musicians fleeing their homes or giving up their love for metal.

Rock in a hard place by Orlando Crowcroft

Zed Books £12.99

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Tue 19 Sep 2017, 11:20 BST
Issue No. 2572
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