“We play heavy metal because our lives are heavy metal.”
—Reda Zine, one of the founders of the Moroccan heavy-metal scene
“Music is the weapon of the future.”
An eighteen-year-old Moroccan who loves Black Sabbath. A twenty-two-year-old rapper from the Gaza Strip. A young Lebanese singer who quotes Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” They are as representative of the world of Islam today as the conservatives and extremists we see every night on the news. Heavy metal, punk, hip-hop, and reggae are each the music of protest, and in many cases considered immoral in the Muslim world. This music may also turn out to be the soundtrack of a revolution unfolding across that world.
Why, despite governmental attempts to control and censor them, do these musicians and fans keep playing and listening? Partly, of course, for the joy of self-expression, but also because, in this region, everything is political. In Heavy Metal Islam, Mark LeVine explores the influence of Western music on the Middle East through interviews with musicians and fans, introducing us young Muslims struggling to reconcile their religion with a passion for music and a desire for change. The result is a revealing tour of contemporary Islamic culture through the evolving music scene in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Heavy Metal Islam is a surprising, wildly entertaining foray into a historically authoritarian region where music just might be the true democratizing force.
Heavy Metal Islam turns the notion of irreconcilable differences between Islam and the West on its head, appealing to the universality of youth culture as "a model for communication and cooperation" in the Internet age…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 imperialisma Marshall Amps Planand his program is undoubtedly the first to enlist death metal as the spearhead of a new Peace Corps(e).