Whilst metal music is still condoned in some Islamic countries, there are some countries who have opened up and began to accept that metal music is not a form of devil worship but more so a safe and creative way of venting anger, hatred and ridding oneself of all negative thoughts and vibes. That it is a truly majestic and awesome way to express feelings without causing harm to others.
Algeria like it's Arabic-African neighbours has a metal scene that is growing and expanding out of it's own turf. Tunisia has Myrath, Egypt has Scarab, Morocco has a slightly quiet scene, Libya had a scene (but is rekindling), but now it's Algeria's turn and it is Lelahell who is flying the flag for the Algerian Metal scene, it is Lelahell who we interrogate regarding this shift and of course their music activities - new album mainly.
Redouane (Lelahel) filled us in with all the details.
"When you play metal there are no frontiers... the metal community is one big global family!"
For those who do not know of Lelahell, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"Lelahell is an Algerian death metal band founded in 2010. Our music is death metal with native melodies. We combine the English and Arabic languages and sometimes use other languages (Spanish and French). We actually have 3 releases (1 EP and 2 albums) and played many shows abroad (15 countries). We are 3 musicians, Ramzy on bass, Slavebaster on drums and myself Redouane on guitar and vocals."
You just released your latest lyric video, 'Ignis Fatuus', what is the meaning behind the song and what was the reception like?
"Ignis Fatuus is that phosphorescent light seen at night over marshy ground due to combustion of gas from organic matters. All those things created by humans: the money, the success, the power, and more... are fake, are illusions, an erroneous perception of the reality! It was the first song published before the official release, and people liked it a lot! You can see the positive comments in the YouTube video!"
What was the reception like for your second and latest album 'Alif'? Will you tour in support of the album?
"We got an excellent response from the audience and the Media's. All the reviews we got are very encouraging and positive: Foto Conciertos (9.5), Broken Tomb (9), Hintf webzine (8.9), Rock Hard SK (4.1/5), and many more… we have a release party in Algiers in August and a Euro tour in November, please get in touch for more information."
What challenges and problems as an Algerian Metal band you face? Is Metal music frowned upon by the general public, are there any instances where people were arrested, etc?
"Algeria is not a radical Islamist country, it is more liberal than you can imagine. We never had been arrested for playing metal. We just got some stupid manipulations from some Media's that claim that metal is the music of Satan, but it is the same problem in Western countries. The main problems are the likes of non-metal countries: no venues for shows, few rehearsals studios, no support from government, equipment and more…"
Makam Echahid, Algiers / source: World Monument Guide
It seems the entire MENA region has been touched by metal music, do you feel it has brought people together regardless of religion, culture, politics, etc?
"When you play metal there are no frontiers, we listen to the same bands, we buy the same albums, and we wear the same shirts. The metal community is one big global family!"
Do you feel it's a matter of time before the rest of Africa develops their own metal music scene? Could you envisage an African Metal festival?
"When you see the map of metal bands by country you notice that Finland, Sweden, and Norway are clearly outpacing the world when it comes to metal bands. Finland and Denmark are two of the three least corrupt countries in the world and Sweden is the most socially advanced country in the world.
That means that the development of metal music is directly linked to the social and political situation of a country, so wait and see…"
For metalheads visiting Algiers, what sights / attractions could you recommend to them to go see / do, what customary should they also know i.e. what is considered polite and what they should not do (as to not offend).
"I don’t know maybe go to the casbah (the old city), or Tipaza to visit the old Romanian ruins, go to the beach, it depends on your main interests. About the second question it is the same as in your country."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
"Starting the writing process of the third full length, an euro tour in November and working on a big tour in 2019!
Support Lelahell or die!"