JANAZA: A Female Blasphemous Black Metal Solo Project From Iraq
In a country that boasts of our first amendment, we've taken our liberties to speak, shred, and blast beat out – in the name of anti-clerical, anarchic causes, and pure metal blasphemy. This anti-clerical expression is far from confined to the states; we get such doses from the finest black metal bands of Finland, to the "Antichristian Phenomenon" riffs of Poland-based Behemoth. Yet in Iraqi society – where to wear outfits even the least bit revealing (and by revealing, I mean a few cubic centimeters of flesh) is taboo, it takes an iron pair and a hell of a lot of strong-will to conceive an anti-religious band. Speaking of such daring, meet Janaza: a newly surfacing female-fronted, black metal "solo project" that's inverting its stakes, redefining blasphemy, and delivering it in record form.
To encounter an anti-Islam black metal band, formed within Iraq itself – is a shock – and a high measure of the daring metalheads possess to scream out what they feel and believe. Hell, metal alone is still a relatively marginalized genre, down-played by the emperor-proportions of Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga that floods the American modern radio and music channels. What's more: to utter anything remotely anti-religious is punishable by death in societies such as Iraq; the more innately "expressive" citizens may under such Machiavellian authority keep their rage at bay.
If we do our Iraqi metal history, and rewind a year or two back to the emergence of Acrassicauda – the first Iraqi (thrash) metal band – we can see the severity and inevitability of metal in such societies getting less than favorable press. Just in case you may not have heard of these dudes, this is a band that picked up speed while performing shows when Saddam Hussein's regime was still intact; after the American regime change, the word about the band spread to such unfavorable parties that they started to receive death threats from Iraqi militants. The accusation? Worship of Satan, with little regard to lyrics, as much as the label of a "metal" band implying Satanic undertones. Altogether: not exactly a symptom of a liberal society. Ultimately, it was this very intolerance (and – let's not downplay the legitimacy of militant-issues death threats!) that caused the band to flee to several countries, and eventually, one continent over – ending up in good old Jersey.
Considering the negative domestic outcome of Acrassicauda's fame, it's not too surprising that Janaza is currently a solo project; how else does one assemble band-mates, in a country where to identify yourself as a metalhead is like sending out a national request for death threats? All things considered, Anahita (the band's creator) has made a smart move of getting the momentum going for her relentless black metal tunes, without the impediment of having to find bandmates. Nonetheless, that impediment is far from defined by any Machiavellian government-issued fear of persecution or backlash; if you look at the names of some of her tunes – you'll find a rather blunt message in each – take the song "Burn the Pages of the Quran," for example. Not exactly subtle. Given the overtly anti-Islam nature of her lyrics and perspective (you'll find Laveyan Satanism listed under her facebook interests), it's clear that this chick has a lot to express, and little intention of holding back.
Janaza is itself defined as a "funeral prayer," held by Muslims before burial to seek pardon for the dead; so, if she's digging her grave, she's writing the riffs to accompany her unholy descent. Incorporating her own unique style, Anahita has released a five-song demo of her songs (in very, very raw form). Crappy as hell production aside, she's got some pretty gnarly riffs and blast beats going, particularly in the aforementioned track – "Burn the Pages of the Quran." To get a taste of the madness that has, from the depths of Iraq, now ensued, check out the video below!