“If I return to Iran, I will be handcuffed,” said Nikan Khosravi, frontman of the heavy metal band Confess. “It could be 20 years, it could be an execution – I don’t know. Returning to Iran is definitely not an option.”
In November 2015, Khosravi was arrested along with his Arash Ilhani group colleague, taken out of the safety of his home, he said, blindfolded by the country’s Revolutionary Guards and taken to the notorious Evin Prison.
The two spent three months in solitary confinement, beginning a horrific ordeal in which they were later sentenced to several years in prison and whipped on charges of blasphemy, propaganda and even Satanism; all because of the music they created in a country where artists have to respect the border, or potentially face the consequences.
After making a bail in 2017, Khosravi says the two managed to escape the country, despite having their passports confiscated, first fleeing to Turkey while awaiting sentencing. Now living in Norway, where they have been granted asylum, the band is releasing music again with new members – a “street protest of five people” who want the world to know their history.
He survived the most famous Iranian prison
“It’s as horrible as it sounds,” Khosravi told Sky News about his time in prison, speaking on Zoom from his home near Oslo. “Sometimes, when I think about my own story, I think, how did this happen and how did I survive this?”
The arrests came shortly after the release of Confess’s second album, In Pursuit Of Dreams. Khosravi says the band “definitely knew” what they were doing about making music that the hardline government would not look favorably on.
What they may not have appreciated, he says, is the extent to which they will be punished for it. “I thought they would probably detain us for a few days, just crush me a little,” he said of his arrest. Instead, he was told the authorities had been investigating him for more than a year.
“My case was so thick,” he says, gesturing with his hand. “When they came after me, they came with a translation of texts … they took a picture of me and my friend, they showed me pictures while I was on the street … pictures of things I posted on Instagram or Facebook. “
What was it about the band’s music that the government was so opposed to? “I think music is the best way to make people understand what’s going on,” says Khosravi. “There are many political topics and criticisms of organized religion, dictatorship.
“As a young Iranian, it is very important for me to talk about these things or bring them into my music. At least there is someone who represents a group of people who think differently, of whom we are so many. The Iranian regime is trying to show the world that Iran is a state [where] everyone thinks alike. This is completely wrong. And I’m just one of so many people who have something to say, but maybe they don’t have as many voices as I do. “
Heavy metal is a dangerous passion in Iran
Confess’s music as heavy metal also played a role. “They don’t like metal music, it sounds satanic to them, as I guess the British government did when Black Sabbath came in the ’60s.”
Khosravi says they have even been accused of Satanism. “I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in Satan either. They call me an atheist and they call me a Satanist. It’s just nonsense. They think it’s because you look like that or your music is like that or you are” saying some things. who question the existence of God, they call you Satan. I don’t think Satanism has anything to do with this type of music anywhere in the world. “
Confes are not the only musicians in Iran who have been imprisoned for their art. In 2021, Sky News spoke with a musician and composer Mehdi Rajabian, who spent two years in prison for making music with which Iranian authorities disagree. There is more.
Music and all art forms are regulated and censored by the Iranian government, while heavy metal in particular is considered a harmful Western genre, according to Jasmine Ramsey, deputy director of the New York-based nonprofit Center for Human Rights in Iran. Censorship forces many artists to work “underground”, unable to sell, promote or perform their music.
“Musicians can be ‘free’ in Iran only if they work under the state’s radar,” Ramsay told Sky News. However, she says that restrictions do not stop creativity. “It is deeply sad to see the Iranian government working to censor art and undermine freedom of expression when there are so many other pressing issues to focus on.”
“I will run for the rest of my life”
Khosravi’s experience certainly did not stop him. “When you go to prison, you live under stress, you go to court, [all the] bad memories in your head and forced exile on the other side of the world, away from your family, away from home – you are like, if I throw this away, everything will be in vain. “
After musicians from Norway joined the band, Confess released their third album, Revenge At All Costs, in January. “It goes without saying,” Khosravi said. “We just came for revenge. This is no longer music, but a weapon, you know? All the songs that are in this album [are] for the time I was in prison. “
While now feeling safe in Norway, the musician is angry and resentful of his situation. And following election of the hardline clergyman Ebrahim Raisi as president in 2021 he says the situation will not improve soon.
“I will run mostly for the rest of my life,” he said. “This anger and frustration and all this negativity has to come out somehow.
Khosraw sees the release of Revenge at All Costs as closing this chapter of his life. Although it was a horrific ordeal, he said it would not change anything.
“Even if I died and came back to this life, I would do exactly as I did,” he said. “That’s right. 100 times. It’s me. I’m going to live my life the way I want to, and there’s no one to force me to live it any other way.”
This band was imprisoned for making heavy metal music. Now they are organizing a return Ents & Arts News
Source link This band was imprisoned for making heavy metal music. Now they are organizing a return Ents & Arts News