The Guiltiest Sinners:

Extreme Heavy Metal Music in Iran and Saudi Arabia


Speaker: Pasqualina Eckerström (FI)

Nikan "Siyanor" Khosravi and Arash Ilkhani, members of Iranian extreme metal band Confess, were arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on November 9, 2015. Confess faced severe charges on accounts of blasphemy, propaganda against the system, and conducting interviews with foreign media. On July 2019, Khosravi was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison and 74 lashes, and Ilkhani to 2 years in prison. Both escaped and are now living in Norway as political refugees.

Saudi Arabia has even stricter laws against music. The Anti-Islamic black Metal band Al-Namrood, whose lyrics condemn organised religion, breaks the Saudi law by merely existing. Although their music is popular in the extreme metal subculture, the laws of their country force the members to hide their identities. Al-Namrood cannot perform their music live; however, their songs encourage many musicians who feel oppressed.

This presentation by Pasqualina Eckerström (FI) will illustrate the focus of her doctoral research, which looks at the development of extreme metal music in Iran and Saudi Arabia. She is a PhD student in History, and Cultural Heritage at the University of Helsinki and the prestigious Finnish Cultural Foundation awarded her a grant. Her background is in music journalism. She has written for magazines such as Metal Hammer Italy and Metal Maniac and now owns the media MetalBreak Podcast. She has always found herself drawn towards controversial topics, particularly those primarily related to freedom of expression in relation with blasphemy and religious oppression. Thus, her interest in Heavy Metal has crossed paths with her love for social and cultural studies.

Friday 23. April 12:30 PM