"If you want to release your music legally in Iran and be able to sell it or perform live, you have to get permission from multiple religious authorities for every single release and live show. "
There are so many unsung or largely forgotten (overlooked at times) metal scenes worldwide, one of these is Iran. To think the country has over 80 bands and projects active and yet can anyone name any major ones? Might be worth for the rest of the metal media in the west to focus their coverage more on said scenes, but in the spirit of metal it's bands like Integral Rigor who take the D.I.Y. approach and do what they can to enjoy metal as much as they can.
The band have big plans to try and release their music through a label, potentially tour outside of Iran and in doing so put Iranian Metal on the international stage.
Guitarist Masoud Moghaddari filled us in with the details.
For those who have not heard of Integral Rigor, please give us a brief history of the band, what does the band name mean?
"Hi! I'm Masoud, guitarist of Integral Rigor, the band was formed in 2009 by Reza Rostamian (Guitars,Vocals) in Sari, northern Iran. Inspired by ancient Persian music, Integral Rigor released it's first album "No More Room In Hell" in 2011 and the second one "Alast" was released in 2018 in which our bassist Shahriar Rajabpour and I joined the band. Very briefly, the title of the band means the maximum purity and absolution of everything, in our case extreme music and art."
You released your 2nd album "اَلَست " back in 2018, what was the reception like and did you get attention from outside of Iran?
"I think we received good feedback especially in Russia and eastern European countries despite not promoting and advertising the album that much. I think oriental music sounds interesting to Russian ears. Also almost every blogger and reviewer who we sent our music to, enjoyed it. It takes some time get more attention from the metal fans worldwide."
What instruments or scales do you use to bring Persian / Oriental flavours into your own form of Death / Thrash Metal?
"Well, there are lots of scales in traditional Persian music which we call "Dastgah" or more anciently "Magham" - that are closely related to classic major / minor scales. These can be used to create cool sounding elements which could be unique to western ears. For example there are some scales that have different ascending and descending patterns, or there are some quarter notes in some scales."
Speaking of which you switched to being instrumental, what was the decision behind the change? Will you bring vocals back?
"If you want to release your music legally in Iran and be able to sell it or perform live, you have to get permission from multiple religious authorities for every single release and live show. Originally, the album had lyrics and vocals, but we were forced to remove it due to restrictions from said authorities. I think they do not like growl / scream vocals!"
What is it like growing up as a metalhead in Iran? Are restrictions not as harsh as they used to be? What challenges to bands face these days?
"The most noticeable restriction I think is that no bands tour or do live shows here. So as a kid you would grow up wishing to see your favourite bands live, but this wish would hardly be granted. It used to be harder to even listen to metal music back in the days as there are no metal music stores here! But it's not a problem any more thanks to the Internet. As I said earlier, bands have to get permission from various organizations in order to release albums or do live shows (which rarely happens) and it makes it very difficult for the bands because most of them cannot earn that much to continue doing what they love to do."
For metalheads visiting Sari, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any bars or venues also?
"Iran is a great country for tourists, especially for those who are interested in historical sites.
Sari is located in the north of Iran in the Mazandaran province, which is popular for being the most green province in Iran with having many amazing natural landscapes. There are various forests & mountains like "Badab Soort" which is a stepped travertine terraces and very unique in the world. Moreover, there is the "Shah Abbas I Mosque", "Fazeli Hotel", "Dasht Naz & Miankaleh Wildlife Sanctuary" and many more!
What are your plans for late 2020 / early 2021? Were any cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19?
"We are currently in search of a record label to help us reach a larger audience worldwide. Until then, we will release single tracks every few weeks to stay active and be seen on social media.
Also we have plans to tour outside Iran if possible and are really looking forward to that. About the COVID-10 situation, we had arranged some live events in 3-4 cities in Iran but had to cancel all of them. The annoying fact is that we have to go through the permission process again for future plan."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, fans, family, etc?
"I would like to thank you for this interview and all your efforts, it means a lot to us. Just want to say that do not judge Iranians by what you see in the media. Iranian people are separated from politicians are very lovely and welcoming and love all the people around the world. Hope to see you someday soon! Stay safe!"
For a band whose lyrics revolve around topics involving fantasy and death, you would have thought that the single 'Stalingrad' would have been by a Black Metal band. Instead it's by Egyptian Progressive / Folk Metal entity Riverwood and as frontman Mahmoud went on to explain, the single is drawing a comparison to the second world war and the current war against COVID-19. During his interrogation he confessed as to how the band came about, why Egyptian Metal is embracing a revolution and what venues metalheads should go to in the city of Alexandria.
For those who have not heard of Riverwood, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"The band was formed only 2 years ago under the name of Riverwood. Our first album was released in the same year and its called "Fairytale". With 1 million streams online "Fairytale" has been chosen as one of the top 20 Folk metal albums in 2020."
You recently released your new single 'Stalingrad', what was the idea behind this - why a song about WW2?
"The song basically tells the story about a timeline that is almost the same as the current one, as the world is at war now with the COVID-19 virus. That's why we have decided to release it as a stand-alone single since it will not be a part of our second full album."
Your debut album "Fairytale" is out now, what was the reception like and have you had people outside of Egypt download it?; will it be on CD / vinyl?
"It has exceeded my expectations. I've never imagined it will be viral in the middle east that fast and also never imagined that it will reach one million streams online all over the world. The album is on CD as well and its sold outside of Egypt. We've sold CDs in Germany, France, Poland, Spain and many more international countries."
Do you feel that there is a rise in Middle Eastern / North African tinged metal? (Myrath, Riverwood, Blaakyum, Scarab, Orphaned Land, etc); how would you describe your sound?
"Unique. That's how I would describe the sound as all of the mentioned bands including Riverwood are injecting the Arabian sounds and Eastern cultures into their music and stories."
What is the current state of the Egyptian Metal scene? Is it going strong? When did metal music first arrive in Egypt?
"It was pretty much dead since 2010, but since 2018 it's being brought back to life with a lot of shows and releases."
For metalheads visiting Alexandria, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Sawy Cultural Wheel, Jesuit Center... these are the top notch venues for metal heads."
What plans does Riverwood have for late 2020 / early 2021?
"Currently we are working on our second full length album. Just like "Fairytale", the album will be telling a story that will be visualized in a book. The album also will be featuring more than one artist, of which 2 of them are big names in the metal music industry."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"As we rarely use the word fans, I would like to thank our family and warriors for all their support through out the "Fairytale" journey, it never could have been done without you and until we see you again on stage please stay safe. Wash your hands! Much love!"
Most people would associate Taiwan as one of those countries you could find labelled on the inside of some of the garments you own, but for metalheads it's known as a vibrant metal scene with ChthoniC as their leading export... following in the Oriental Black Metallers footsteps are a legion of metal bands who are ready to take the Taiwanese scene forward onto newer and greater heights.
One such band is Frost Tears (冰霜之淚), whose blend of Symphonic Gothic Metal and Oriental Metal is so amazing that you would lost in trying to find a band who can be compared to this majestic group. GMA spoke to the group to find out what life as a Taiwanese Metal musician is like, plans for the year ahead among other things. Answers are gratefully and surprisingly received in both Taiwanese and English.
"'Joyous shout' is a song which returns to the pure combination of power metal and symphony metal"
How long has Frost Tears been going and has any of the members been in previous bands?
"冰霜之淚迄今已經㒟立八年，到目前為止，歷經三任鼓手᧤現任鼓手 Ibara 第ℛ任᧥；三任貝㠾手᧤現任貝㠾手 Mone 是第ℛ任᧥；吉他手 Dio 是第ℛ任᧤鍵 盤手 Yu 則在 2016 年離團，主唱 Len
與吉他手 Taku 一直是原始團員。目前並不 積極尋找㠿任鍵盤手，因為㒠們覺得改變樂器編制也許是個有趣的ℚ情。在 2017 年在演出的配置加入了一位大提琴手 Tetsu.
It's been 8 years since Frost Tears was formed by Len (Vocal), Taku (Lead Guitar) and Ibara (Drums). The other present members include Mone (Bass) and Dio (Rhythm Guitar), who are the second members at bass and rhythm guitar. Tetsu, our current cellist, joined us in 2017, which may be an interesting idea or choice to change our band formation due to former keyboardists leave in 2016."
What is it like being a metal musician / fan in Taiwan? What is the scene like and is metal supported well?
都沒᭷幾個金屬樂團ྍ以ᡂ為主流，也因Ṉᡃ們在這八年來所學到的心態，便是 做ᡃ們想做的音樂即ྍ，要跟隨閃靈的 腳 ṉ並不是件容易的事，而即使像閃靈身 為ྎ灣最紅的金屬團，卸下樂手光環ᚋ，
ChthoniC as Taiwan's most known metal band has their own way of standing in Taiwan and so do we. In fact, few of Taiwan's (or maybe countries / religions besides Northern Europe) metal bands became famous. So even if we still try to fulfil our destiny in our own way, our conclusion for Metal in Taiwan is simply make perfect music, and THAT IS ENOUGH. "
You're about to release your fourth EP 'Conscious Being' in a few weeks time, will there be a tour in support of the release?
"目前還在企劃中，ྍ能在六᭶，因為ᡃ們沒᭷足 夠 的經費同時做 夠 多的ⓐ行 和ᐉ傳活動，所以也不急，一件一件的完ᡂ就好ࠋ
Actually, we are planning for a tour in Taiwan to begin maybe in June, so things like funds searching or promotion activity is now in process."
Have you played outside of Taiwan, if so where? What challenges as a Taiwanese band do you face when booking overseas gigs?
"ᡃ們曾經在 2015 年到過日本，2016 年到馬來西亞演出ࠋ對ᡃ們而言，演出內
容與器材ࠊ場地並不是問題，觀眾也都 夠 多ࠋ其實對ᡃ們而言，最困難的是籌ࠋ措旅費
We've been to Japan in 2015 and Malaysia in 2016. Shows were perfect for their own when the most difficult part is still the operation funds."
What did you differently for the new EP in comparison to your previous releases?
"因為團員變動，創作方式自然也會改變ࠋ新的 EP 除了首支單曲 Joyous shout 回到像 power
或 symphony metal 那種比較直ⓑ的音樂型態之外，另外三首則是以 現在的編制去重新改寫第一張
The new single 'Joyous shout' from 'Conscious Being' is a song which returns to the pure combination of power metal and symphony metal. Others are remade versions of 3 songs from our first EP which has improved tones, path of mixing and in some parts a change of lyrics and melody. It's a way for us to face and challenge our past."
For those visiting Taiwan, what sights / attractions could you recommend? What bars could you recommend?
"對於訪問ྎ灣的遊ᐈ，你ྍ以推薦哪些景點 / 景點？你ྍ以推薦什麼酒吧
'Jiufen' for 1 day touring and 'Revolver'͛ for alcohol."
What plans do you have for the year ahead?
The first priority is to complete our next new album despite our slow working progress, but we'll still make a try."
Do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
Hey guys we are Frost Tears from Taiwan! We welcome you to subscribe to us on our official Facebook page 'Frost Tears 冰霜之淚' to get the latest information of us! We wish to see you, Thank you!
It's not uncommon for a metal band to fall into a sub-genre that is totally unique, not only in terms of lyrical content or sound, but by the sub-genre name itself. So when Finland's Whispered announced details for their forthcoming album "Metsutan - Songs Of The Void", the slight-head turn became imminent after the first word. Why is a Finnish Metal band using a Japanese word in their album title? Turns out they're a 'Samurai Metal' band, well musically they're Melodic Death / Power Metal tinged with Eastern 'Oriental' Folk music influences, but we prefer the new genre tag as a way to describe them.
They might be fashioning blades, experts at martial arts, or masters at kanji calligraphy, but they're not resistant to our interrogation methods. Sadly no sake came between us or the band....
Vocalist / guitarist Jouni Valjakka and guitarist Mikko Mattila entered the interrogation chamber.