Reza Aslan “Rock the MullahsCan heavy metal music help transform the Middle East?” http://www.slate.com/id/2196194/
Welcome to the new Middle East, a region where, by some estimates, nearly half of the population is under the age of 25. This is a highly literate, politically sophisticated, technologically savvy, and globally plugged-in generation. It speaks English; it knows its way around the Internet; and, according to historian and part-time metal head Mark LeVine, it wants to rock.
“Heavy Metal Islam” gets trapped by its good intentions whenever it attempts to shoehorn the headbangers’ intransigence into preconceived political slots. Metal music, however you parse it, is dystopian in the extreme: hyper-aggressively embracing the death instinct, regimented chaos, deliriously fetishized morbidity. Call it cathartic, sure, even a way of keeping sane in an insane world (as one performer here says, “We play heavy metal because our lives are heavy metal”), but don’t confuse it with “If I Had a Hammer.” Unless it’s a hammer of the nihilist gods aimed at your forehead — not to hammer out justice or a warning or “the common struggle for democracy and economic equality,” but to crack your skull open, scrape out your pulverized brains and feed them to the wolverines.
Even though these antisocial bands want no part of hard-liners like the mystical Justice and Spirituality Association in Morocco or the spooky Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (and the disdain is often mutual), LeVine thinks if they could all put aside their petty differences and work together, they could start a domino effect in the Middle East like the one that toppled the Eastern bloc. (He’s like the straight arrow in comic books who’d invariably look around at the scene of Armageddon and say with a sigh, “If only we could have harnessed their mutant energy for goodness.”) The punch line of LeVine’s informative, valuable and moderately mad book is twofold: this conscientious anti-imperialist has written a swell tract in favor of large-scale cultural imperialism — a Marshall Amps Plan — and his program is undoubtedly the first to enlist death metal as the spearhead of a new Peace Corps(e).