Article: Metal In Iran
Written by: Mohammad Pazhutan
Edited by: Matt Medeiros

for : EmptyWords
Published: May 2001

FOREWORD After years of listening to various different types of music, and attempting to understand their deeper meanings, I found that there is one style of music that gives true happiness and enlightens the soul, that music is death metal. There are no concerts. CD's are expensive, and vinyl is not available. MP3s are available, but only the low quality formats. Welcome to Iran where three friends published a book about DEATH. This information is only useful for those who are interested in knowing about the lives of headbangers in Iran. It has been really exciting for me to finally write about some of the wonderful things that have happened here. I hope to open your eyes to a different way of life, where the availability of CD's (from every genre) is minimal, compared to the relatively easy access found in the United States, Europe and the Far-east (places where this availability is often taken for granted. We would like to extend our thanks to the Emperor of Metal, Chuck Schuldiner whose inspiration gives us strength. Mohammad Pazhutan.

CULTURE IN IRAN Most modern music styles are somehow unknown to the Iranian people, who are primarily interested in Iranian folklore and the traditional music played by both local artists and Iranian pop musicicians whose material has been imported from Los Angeles since the Islamic revolution. Twenty percent of the Iranian people are interested in modern music. They generally enjoy every style of music, listening to techno in their cars while joyriding through the streets. People listen to rap, hip-hop, and pop music, and when they talk about rock, they mean Pink Floyd and Dire Straits, they aren't interested in Rush or Led Zeppelin.

THE IRANIAN METAL HORDE Yes, some people in Iran are actually interested in metal music, though most of them like Metallica (the albums after 1991), Meat Loaf and Bon Jovi. It is rare that you will find a real thrash fan. The true metal scene is very small, which is why we know every headbanger in Iran. Many of our friends are excellent musicians. They are creative, and while many of them have good instruments, there is no studio to record this kind of music, so it's a very underground movement. We search for our favorite music while selling our own.

We have known each other since our high school days, when we were listening to the Scorpions, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and a lot of other heavy metal artists. Then we discovered Metallica (during the "And Justice For All" era), Testament, Slayer, Megadeth, Venom and other bands in the thrash/speed metal genre. Up until 1989, we never even heard of death metal. Then one day I found a tape featuring Napalm Death, Massacre, Entomed, Morbid Angel and Godflesh. Though they sounded strange to us, we thought they were fantastic. Above all we were shocked by the cutthroat vocals. Shortly thereafter, I listened to Cannibal Corpses "Butchered At Birth" and Obituarys "Cause Of Death" (James Murphy's guitar work killed me) and became a real death metal fan. After about a year or so, a friend gave me a copy of "Scream Bloody Gore." Words cannot describe what I felt. In awe I just stood there and screamed along, it was the greatest death metal work I'd ever heard. Since 1989 I've been addicted to Death.

LIVING IN IRAN AND LIKING DEATH METAL "Informing a generation" As you know, that there was a war between Iran and Iraq for 8 years. When I was a child, we slept with the sounds of bombs and air-defenses. My brother was a soldier who was lucky enough to come back home, but many people died in that bloody war. Iraq used chemical warfare on some cities, and the governments didn't want to stop the war.

Universities were closed. Prices skyrocketted and life became sad and depressive. With the help of the UN the war ended, but memories of war still live in our minds and infect our dreams. THAT'S THE MAIN REASON FOR LISTENING TO METAL MUSIC. I think a death metal fan who has never heard the sound of a bomb couldn't understand what these words mean. Who can understand Slayer's "Chemical Warfare" better than a victim of such weapons?

As you may be aware, according to some psychological and philosophical theories every work of art is something independent from the mind of the artist himself. This is related to the mind and our way of thinking. I want to tell you that in some gory lyrics as "Scream Bloody Gore", or Cannibal Corpses "Devoured By Vermin", "Headless" and "Centuries Of Torment"... you can find the deepest layers of a soul. You can feel the light and the pure art. Here in Iran we have strong beliefs and ideas about Mysticism, Mithraism, Zoroasterism and the cults of fire. Iran had the greatest poets in history and people has a sense of occultism. I myself enjoy new-age music (Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Dead Can Dance) because of these perspectives. Although metal music, in general, is realistic, if you zoom on it, you can find many meanings in every second of music you are listening to. You hear catchy riffs and grunting vocals without thinking of what it means. If you utilize C.G. Jungs theories you can decode them and find a connection between voices you hear, artworks you see on a CD cover and song titles. It may take a lot of time but as you look at metal in a different way, not by music business point of view, there is so much to understand and discover. THAT'S WHY WE DECIDED TO WRITE A BOOK: TO INFORM A GENERATION.



I am an experienced rock, jazz and electronic music listener. I love the classical masterpieces and every country's folklore. After all, you need good musicians with solid music, lyrics that express your emotions, and a lot of energy to help you in times of sorrow. The band that does this better than any other? DEATH... from rivers of sorrow to oceans deep with hope. There is always sadness and depressive things. The government doesn't want to understand the new generation. So I think one thing to help this poor generation is introducing death metal to them to give them the energy that is necessary for us to keep going on. Of all the death metal bands I know, Death plays the catchiest and doomiest riffs colliding with powerful lyrics that are deep enough to think about for a lifetime. The same is true about CONTROL DENIED.

The worst thing is most Iranians think that metal musicians are killers, cannibals, addicts and bad guys. Its very hard to make them understand the real meanings and the philosophy behind the music. In my opinion every artist has something to say and has its own way of saying it. It seems logical that people understand metal music but as the words are in English, and usually with roars and screams, people think that they are movie monsters of something! While boys can wear almost everything (jeans, jackets, leather, t-shirts and...) all women and girls must have Hijab, which means to cover every part of the body from head to toe. In this case this is strange that metal t-shirts are always in fashion, especially by those who are not really interested in metal music! Teenagers wear Bat Man, Hulk Hogan and IRON MAIDEN shirts!!! They write Slayer on their cars but they do not listen to it. Girls wear skull and bone rings and necklaces, cannabis leaf, etc...., but they know nothing about their meanings. They think that these logos and skulls and....are cool!

But the real metal maniacs in Iran never write anything on their cars and jackets. They are simple, friendly and kind and strange when people watch them walk in the street with a walkman that plays Napalm Death right in their heads.) Some parents think that if their children listen to metal music, he will end up an addict, a sexual pervert and the music will lead to a tragic suicide, but it's not a big problem because everyone does the things that parents are against. CD's are very expensive. The average salary is 800.000 Rials (one USD is equal to 8000 Rials), and a CD costs 100.000 to 150.000 Rials. It's better to record CD's on a tape if you find the CD. LP's have not been available since the Revolution, before that time every kind of music were available. The previous generation was really into rock music, Jimi Hendrix fans and Psychedelic music lovers.

After the Revolution everything changed, people get superstitious and LP's destroyed. Classical and Jazz CD's are expensive though not forbidden. You can find original CD's with good labels here, also you can find instrumentals such as Ottmar Liebert and Ravi Shankar. People who really understand music, understand metal and that's the most important point, I think. Doesn't matter if you pay that much for a CD because you will enjoy it and it will give life to you for a lifetime. Several people have PC's and are able to listen MP3 formats. It's the cheapest way of having good collections and albums even though its low quality. This way has some other bad points, for example CD's dont' have any booklet, leaflet or information, they don't even have titles. We seek and find and enjoy music in such a country . I think now you know what if feels like to live in Iran and behave this way.

There are many good and talented musicians in Iran who are not able to record or release their art. Since 1960 pop musicians were releasing many albums and singles. Although you cannot find a good work among those records, musicians were free to play their stuff anyway. After 1978 many of those musicians left Iran for Los Angeles and they are still doing their thing.

The new generation of musicians who are interested in rock, metal, fusion and new-age came up. These new musicians play for fun. The terrible problem separate from the conditions of recording is the expense of musical instruments. Nowadays you can buy a Fender Strat (2nd hand) or a Gibson Les Paul for 10.000.000 Rials. A Korg Triton costs 30.000.000 Rials and a Pearl Drum Kit (which were forbidden for 18 years!) costs about 35.000.000 Rials. I know a drummer here who was searching good drumsticks for 3 years! It's not flabbergasting, it's the same for every musician here. We had some live concerts in last three years. The band members were not matched. They played instumental covers of Santana, Joe Satriani, Eric Clapton, Paco de Lucia etc... These bands are not good and skilled, their performance is just a matter of nepotism!!

Me (Mohammad Pazhutan, 27, better known as MP) and Mahyar (Mahyar Mohyeddean, 27) have been friends since our high school days. Ali Arjamandi (R-Joe, 25) has been a friend of ours since those days though he wasn't our schoolmate. We visit each other once a week or more. I am a songwriter/composer and enjoy writing poems. I play keyboards and sometimes teach it. R-Joe is an electronics freak, he is also a computer technichian. He enjoys playing guitar sometimes. Mahyar is practicing hard to be a good classical guitar player, in his spare time he translates lyrics and literature. The internet is a very useful tool to catch the latest news and stay in touch with other people, but it's somehow expensive and the maximum speed of connection in Iran is 3.6MB and it's terrible damn work to download anything you want. Anyway it's really good.... if we didn't have the internet, how could we have found Yvonne?!? Anyone who would like to contact me can send e-mail to:


Interesting Iranian websites
Cosmic Sea


to voices from Iran

EmptyWords-Published on May 26 2001