HEAVY METAL ISLAM by Mark LeVine

HEAVY METAL ISLAM

Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam

KIRKUS REVIEW

Heavy metal embodies the rage of young people in rigidly controlled Muslim societies, offering a surprising message of hope and solidarity that contrasts sharply with its reputation.

That’s the conclusion of Levine (Middle Eastern History/Univ. of California, Irvine; An Impossible Peace: Oslo and the Burdens of History, 2007, etc.), who traveled extensively in the world’s major Muslim countries interviewing members of the unique but growing subculture of metalheads. His stories reveal that in several countries where death and violence have become commonplace, music with morbid, violent themes can provide an outlet for negative emotions and a potential avenue for cultural critique from within. The Jewish-American author used his proficiency in Arabic and hard-rock guitar to maximum advantage during his many encounters with metalheads from Palestine to Pakistan. Each chapter features a different country from the Middle East or North Africa, encompassing a wide range of political and religious opinions. Despite the many cultural differences of their respective countries, metal movements throughout the Muslim world share a few key characteristics. Because metalheads risk harassment, imprisonment and police brutality simply for playing and disseminating the music, their concerts, festivals and recordings remain largely underground, sustained by bootleg copies and clandestine jam sessions. Beyond the book’s obvious appeal to metal lovers and hard-rock musicians, it’s useful to a much broader Western audience because it depicts creative, internal resistance to some of the most oppressive regimes within the Muslim world. It also promotes talented but obscure musicians. Given the complexities of a Middle Eastern cultural survey, Levine can only skim the surface of alternative music’s position within Muslim countries. His background explanations are often patchy, his prose duller than the subject matter would suggest, but the project extends beyond mere description to a kind of empathetic activism.

Alternately inspiring and disheartening—a solid work of cross-cultural analysis.

Pub Date: July 15th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-307-35339-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Three Rivers/Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2008




BOOKS ABOUT ISLAM:

Nonfiction INFIDEL by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Nonfiction ACTS OF FAITH by Eboo Patel
by Eboo Patel
Nonfiction AMERICAN ISLAM by Paul M. Barrett
by Paul M. Barrett
Nonfiction ISLAM AND THE WEST by Bernard Lewis
by Bernard Lewis

MORE BY MARK LEVINE

NonfictionF5 by Mark LeVine
by Mark Levine
AdultENOLA GAY by Mark LeVine
by Mark Levine

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionEXTREMELY LOUD by Juliette Volcler
by Juliette Volcler
NonfictionENTER NIGHT by Mick Wall
by Mick Wall