Protest music is always cool, and that means the announcement of a new album by Iranian heavy metal duo Confess is definitely something to look forward to. It’s been a tough road for the band. Comprised of singer and lead guitarist Nikan ‘Syanor’ Khosravi, 26, and bassist/DJ Arash ‘Chemical’ Ilkhani, 24, it wasn’t that long ago that they were facing some serious repercussions after accusations of blasphemy and dissent in Iran. Khosravi was sentenced to 12 years in prison with 74 lashes, while Ilkhani was given six years. Fortunately, the band had fled Iran, so the sentencing was largely symbolic. Now in Norway, safe from the Iranian government, they are once again producing music that epitomizes protest.
It wasn’t just blasphemy that the pair were charged with. As US-led sanctions continue to make things harder for the Iranian government, crackdowns are becoming commonplace. As reported by irandiplomacy, the ongoing sanctions have changed Iran’s position in the Middle East. That has meant the government is taking tighter control over its citizens. Iranian heavy metal duo Confess were targeted and charged with “insulting the Supreme Leader and president”, “disturbing public opinion”, “insulting the sacred”, producing “propaganda against the state” and “participating in interviews with the opposition media.” Confess managed to get out of the country before the final court proceedings and have settled in Harstad, Norway. This is the city that ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network) has designated as an official refuge of musicians.
Since relocating, Khosravi has performed twice, both of which were solo shows. Reuniting with Ilkhani has delighted the pair, and they are keen to get back to gigging as soon as possible. There are hopes that Confess will play at the Tons of Rock festival in Norway and the Oslo-based Inferno festival, the black metal event that shakes the metal community every April.
Early Days of Confess
Iranian heavy metal duo Confess formed in 2010 when the pair were still teenagers living in Iran. For musicians in Iran, all songs have to be approved by the government, with licenses handed out for all approved tracks. Confess didn’t even apply for licenses, and their repertoire of illegal songs includes the hard-hitting “Encase your Gun”, the expletive heavy “Painter of Pain” and the darkly descriptive “Evin”, which describes in shocking detail the conditions inside Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison. Arrested after the release of their second album In Pursuit of Dreams, the duo were grabbed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This is the private force designated by the White House as a terrorist group. It was only after being allowed to post bail that the pair were able to flee the country before sentences were passed down.
Originally, Confess had a few plans to create more music, but the ongoing conditions facing the citizens of Iran prompted them to reform. The final straw was the rise of petrol prices in Iran, a direct response to sanctions and potentially affecting millions of workers. Protests in Iran have only grown as new announcements are made, and further sanctions drive the Iranian government into ever more desperate directions.
Joined by two new members, Erling Malm on guitar, and Roger Tunheim Jakobsen on drums, Confess is only growing more powerful. With plans to release a new album, titled Revenge at All Costs in early 2020, the future looks bright for the metal group that have not just fought the system but survived it too.
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