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Band braves ban for a blare
- Iran metal musicians to rock Gangtok on sunday

Gangtok, Nov. 19: Heavy metal may be underground in Iran but government restrictions have not stopped a bunch of musicians from reaching other parts of the world, even Sikkim, with a message on the glorious history of their country.

And all this done in the format of death metal — a genre of heavy metal music popularised in the 80s.

Arsames, the death metal band from Mashhad, the second largest city in Iran, has landed here to perform at the Sikkim Music Fest at Paljor Stadium on Sunday. The event has been conceptualised by Defenders of Metal in Darjeeling and is being managed by the Alpine Attitude Events, Gangtok.

“Death metal, a genre of heavy metal music, usually associates itself with darker sides of life. But Arsames is not looking at it in that way. Our music tells people about the ancient civilisation of Persia and the proud history of the Iranian people. We speak about the ancient Persian empire. Our lyrics are about civilisation from where we come,” said Ali Madarshahi, the band’s vocalist.

The other members of the band set up in 2000 are Ahmad Tokalloo and Morteza Shahrami on guitar, Rouzbeh Zourchang on bass guitar and Saeed Shariat on drums. They all reached Gangtok yesterday.

Arsames members said the current governance system in Iran had hit the growth of heavy metal and prevented bands from public performances.

“Things are difficult for heavy metal in Iran. But it has also helped us work harder. In Iran, heavy metal is forbidden as the government believes it is about Satan. Only pop and traditional music are allowed. We do our music underground and organise shows secretly,” said an Arsames performer.

Without the Iranian government’s permission, the Arsames has crossed borders and performed at metal fests in Dubai, Turkey and Slovakia and now, Gangtok beckons. This is also the first time the band is performing in India.

Shivendra Rai of the Defenders of Metal got in touch with the Arsames and managed to convince the band to play in the Sikkim fest.

“We all belong to metal family and such connection happens all the time in this world of Facebook. It is a great honour for the band to be part of the Sikkim Music Fest. Our band does not neglect any opportunity to showcase our talents in any part of the world. People love music and it will be worthwhile to come all the way from Iran and perform here,” said Shahrami.

He said the Iranian band would be playing 13 tracks from its newly released album Immortal Identity, which consists of three covers, one instrumental and their own compositions.

Hozo has said the music fest is the biggest event in Sikkim-Darjeeling region. Sabin Rai and X-Mantra from Nepal and a band from Guwahati will also rock the event.

Local act, Still Waters, too, will perform, along with Dark Murder Scheme from Darjeeling. Kusang Tamang of Grungy Morphins, Darjeeling, will give a solo guitar performance.

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