Thursday, 3 April 2014

Extreme Thursday: Persian Metal Special

This week's Extreme Thursday is doing things a little differently. Rather than commiserate all that is dismal and terrible about a day of the week, we will instead be turning our eyes toward a more Persian influence.

With two very different stories, the bands Mortad and Master Of Persia have very different origins, aims and reasons for being. With only a single album each so far (although more on that front later), these two bands are relative newcomers to the metal scene, but have a great deal to say.

Have a read, have a listen, support the bands. In the west we are fortunate to be able to enjoy the music we love however and whenever we want. But little is more extreme than focussing your whole life, or even losing your whole life, for the sake of the music, the message and the meaning you have defined for yourself.

Master of Persia

Master of Persia is a band from Mashhad, Iran who came together with a great love for their country and their culture. Unfortunately, their country and culture had no great love for them. Currently residing in Armenia and, previously, Georgia, Master Of Persia have long been accused of Satanism and corruption due to their musical style, hair styles and manner of dress.

Formed in 2005, Master Of Persia is headed up by Meraj and Anahid (for surnames they simply use the initials M.O.P.) on vocals, providing a wide range of styles. With Meraj's clean male vocal and harsher rock style setting the mood, Anahid's brutal female growls give the songs another dimension.

Despite the use of growled vocals, Master Of Persia's aim has always been to showcase Iran's rich cultural heritage. While it is now a Muslim country, this was not always the case, and elements of folk traditions are used within the songs to being the past and present together. For this, the band have been forced to move from their native country after being captured and detained by Iran's secret police.

Having lived for a while in Georgia, the band now take residence in Armenia. From there they are spending their time promoting the Iranian hard rock and metal scene with the Persian Rock And Metal Festival. The first of these was in 2012 and featured 10 Persian bands.

Master of Persia have only had one release to date; 2011's Older Than History. From wailing riffs to guttural roars to a distinctly Persian tone, it's an album of many faces. Check out Mazda Hou, a personal favourite from the album.

It's very difficult to get hold of, but all the individual tracks from Older Than History are available to download for free from the band's Facebook page. If anyone figures out how to support this band with more than just a download, drop us a line! There is some word that a second album is in the works, but I have so far failed to find anything concrete.

Master Of Persia were recently featured in a short BBC documentary on heavy metal music in Iran. It's a very interesting documentary and well worth a watch.



Mortad are a death metal band originally formed in Scotland by Iranian vocalist Somi Arian. Having appeared out of nowhere in 2012 with the distribution of their debut album, Myth Of Purity, on the cover of Metal Hammer magazine, they have long been a favourite here at Femetalism.

While not especially vocal in publicity about the band's philosophy, background and intent, much can be gleaned from the lyrics and style of the music itself. A lot of it is rooted in Somi's troubled past, a past she has recently gone on record to discuss as the band prepare for the release of their second album.

From the systematic brainwashing of children, the marginalisation and, indeed, blaming of women for all life's problems, and the strictly enforced religious lifestyle, and two marriages, an escape to the west was Somi Arian's escape from the lifestyle she could not stand.

Mortad, meaning "apostate", is a statement of her position. Atheist, anti-religious, and pro-human, but with no small amount of fury about what has happened and is happening every day. From "Pandemic Paranoia" to "Discpline and Distortion", from "All That's Born Must Be Destroyed" to "Waste Of My Rage", the singer's fury at the world is worn firmly on the sleeve.

Mortad, like Master Of Persia, have not had many releases to day. An EP in 2011 and the aforementioned Myth Of Purity album in 2012 is it so far, but there has been a new album in the works for some time now. It is on the back of this album that Somi has chosen to come foreward and be more visible about her reasons and motivations.

The band's sound is a sort of death/thrash combination with some distinctly melodic parts but some distinctly crunchy parts. Anthemic, almost punk, designed to be shouted in a spitting rage, the songs are all directed at an unnamed and unseen adversary.

The band have recently put out a kickstarter campaign for a video for the new album that gives a great overview of what's happening in the Mortad camp at the moment. This involves an inclusion of Persian roots and clean vocals, providing a broader spectrum of sound and an even more personal album from Somi Arian.

Kickstarter Facebook