Heavy Metal Islam
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the book
heavy Metal Islam--The Book
HMI Tour Dates

Tour Dates




The landmark album from EMI is about to drop. Flowers in the Desert, featuring 19 of the best metal, rock, hiphop and rock bands from the Muslim world featured in the book and produced by Mark LeVine, is scheduled for a pre-holiday release. Check out the promo vid HERE:

"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."
-Fela Kuti

An eighteen-year-old Moroccan who loves Black Sabbath. A
twenty-two-year-old rapper from the Gaza Strip. A 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.

As the crisis in Iran continues to unfold, Mark has kept in regular touch with many of that country's leading metal and hiphop artists, who have been sending him regular updates on the situation. To follow their reports, check out Mark's blog on the Huffington Post HERE which has links to Mark's analyses of the evolving situation.

wingsRead the profile about the book and my interview with Iron Maiden at their website.

Iron Maiden

latest reviews

Wings Editor's Pick, New York Times, July 20, 2008: "LeVine manages to unpack enough cross-cultural incongruities to mount his own most pit; and informative, valuable and moderately mad book... This conscientious anti-imperialist has written a swell tract in favor of a... Marshall Amps Plan... and his program is undoubtedly the first to enlist death metal as the spearhead of a new Peace Corps." >>MORE

wings Boston Globe, August 10, 2008.
You don't have to be up to date on the heavy metal scene to find
Levine's observations intriguing. Their music is a scream of protest
against the hatred, violence, and decay that have seized their
countries and stolen their futures. "We play heavy metal because our
lives are heavy metal," says one musician. But there is also idealism, a call to a revived Islam that creates rather than destroys. Music alone can't conquer tyranny, and Levine knows it, but as his evocation of the Czech "Velvet Revolution" suggests, it can live to dance on tyranny's grave. >> MORE

wings  Jorzine magazine, Amman, Winter 2009: "A joy to read with its amusing and articulate writing style... A must read for every metalhead out there, not just middle eastern ones, simply because, I can't think of
a better person to explain the link between heavy metal and the
Middle East. I would give this a well deserved 9/10.

wings Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2008: "[LeVine's] material is rich, as he mingles scenes of conflict with surprising moments ofunderstanding... Young men in long hair and black T-shirts are proudly marginalized everywhere, but the stakes are far higher here. The sounds and scenes he finds are a fascinating social phenomenon."

wings Slate.com, July 28, 2008: "Rock the Mullahs! Welcome to the new
Middle East... a highly literate, politically sophisticated, technologically savvy, and globally plugged-in generation. It speaks English; it knows its way around the Internet; and, according to historian and part-time metal head Mark LeVine--who follows the [scenes] with all the dogged determination of a seasoned Grateful Dead fan--it wants to rock." >>MORE

wings Daily Star (Beirut), August 22, 2008: "Levine's book
accomplishes its simple, self-appointed task: to exhibit the
potential for music to transform societies and bring people closer
together through artistic expression. Given the media's emphasis on
the differences between the Middle East and the West, Heavy Metal
Islam is a refreshing, much needed call to keep searching for common

wings Rocky Mountain News, July 24, 2008: "This is an excellent and entertaining read for metalheads or anyone interested in a different look at Mideast culture... Just as there's more to LeVine than
academics, in his new book he argues that there's more to Muslim
culture than what Americans consume on the nightly news... LeVine
deftly showcases both the struggles and successes of Mideast metal

music noteStarred Review, Publishers' Weekly, May 12, 2008: "With a Jolting Arrangement of images and voices, LeVine powerfully upends received notions about the Middle East by exploring one of the area's least known subcultures... Warm and intelligent." >>MORE

wings"Highly Recommended"-Library Journal, June 18, 2008. "Using music as a prism to observe social relations, [LeVine] expertly describes the political upheaval and social confusion in the Middle East that Westerners ignore or seldom understand. This examination of the
changing and evolving cultures in a key global region is highly
recommended." >> MORE

wingsPaste Magazine, July 2008: "Headbanging in Hejab:" LeVine chronicles and partakes, reflecting on and helping shape the reality he
discovers. He produces a deeply felt, informed volume that's both hopeful and emotionally honest... He does a remarkable job, sketching not only the surprising realities of the musicians, but also providing excellent historical background and terrific detail... Anyone-regardless of musical preference-who wants an eye-level glimpse into the Middle East should pick up Heavy Metal Islam. Headbanging optional." >>MORE

Wings Freerepublic.com, July 9, 2008: Written by the incomparable Mark LeVine, [who] LeVine has a rare talent for taking personal, comprehensible subjects and connecting them to much larger issues... This is one of the most important nonfiction books written in the past decade, and I would strap a sandwich board to my back in order to promote it. >>MORE

music noteKirkus Reviews: May 15, 2008: "Offer[s] a surprising message of hope and solidarity that contrasts sharply with [the music's]
reputation.... A solid work of cross-cultural analysis.">>MORE

wingsGilbey Clarke, Guns N' Roses and Rockstar Supernova: "Heavy Metal Islam is a fun read, and an important one. As an American, Islam has been portrayed as the boogie man. As a musician I can relate to the struggles they had trying to write and record their songs and the difficulty finding hard rock records where they don't exist. so this was a pleasant surprise that these young artists and fans from such a different culture can enjoy the same soundtrack of my youth." >>MORE

wings Lanny Cordola, guitarist and producer, House of Lords, Mellow Man Ace, ESPN, Love Supreme Coalition: "Heavy Metal Islam is an important book--relevant and timely. It captures the essence of what it means to be a musician and a Muslim. It is a book of vigor and passion, a travelogue into the heart of what it means to be alive in the belly of political mumbo jumbo-finding grace in the dirge of extremism and shedding light on the common love of power chord-riff and banshee wail." >>MORE

music noteMike Davis, author, City of Quartz and A Brief History of the Car Bomb: "Roll over Crusaders. As Mark LeVine discovers during his revelatory journey from Fes to Dubai, the young people of the Arab world are rockin' their socks off, and, through their audacious musical subcultures, defining a future that rejects marginality, imperialism and intolerance." >>MORE

music note Anton Pushansky, tripple-Grammy Award winning producer, engineer and musician: "No one else alive could have written this book. LeVine has a great musician's ear, a scholar's eye, and an activist's sensibility for pulling unseen but crucial truths out of one of the world's most troubled regions." >>MORE







Purchase Heavy Metal Islam from your favorite
online book sellers:

>>Barnes and Noble
>>Random House

wingsRadio Documentary

wingsInfo about Culture Jamming

wingsWatch CNN's story about the book and
the music


latest updates

wingsWho says MTV has lost its musical
edge. Check out this vid on
the birth of Arab metal here 

wingsThe documentary about the Muslim
punk movement, Taqwacore, has now
been released. Watch the
trailer here.
The Kominas' "Sharia Law in the
USA!" is featured on Flowers
in the Desert.  

wingsBeirut's The Kordz have just released
their new album Beauty and the Beast,
which might just be the best rock album
by anyone anywhere in the new
millennium. Check it out here 

wings Listen to Mark discuss
the role of metalheads in the Iranian protests
on the NPR/PRI program "The World"
with Marco Werman, June 23, 2009

wings HMI is spreading across the globe.
Watch Mark being interviewed by
NBC News at SXSW, al-Jazeera's The Playlist
about the Pakistani rock and metal scene
and the relationship between metal and
Islam across the Muslim world, and on
Swedish Television's hit show Kobra

An article about the al-Jazeera expose on
Middle Eastern metal can be read here

wings GOOD NEWS! Flowers in the Desert, featuring
20 of the best metal, rock and hiphop groups
from the Muslim world, is almost here! Release
date by EMI confirmed for late May.
Stay tuned for exact release date
and ordering info.

wings Al-Jazeera, NBC News, and others covering
Mark at SXSWFestival in Austin, March 20,
performing with Lazywall, The Kominas,
Tarantist, Palestinian Rapperz, Son of Fire,
and speaking as part of the "Global Underground"
Panel. Panel Information
Show information: Club 115, 115 South Jacinto St.
Austin, 8pm-2am.  

SXSW Comes to LA: Mark performs with Lazywall,
joined by Palestinian Rapperz, Turkish rock group
Kutsal and Irish metal kings Jeckyl, March 26,
at The Joint, 8771 West Pico, Los Angeles,
panel of artists at 8pm,
music begins promptly at 9pm.

wings Read Mark's interview with the Jordanian
metal 'zine Jorzine"

wings Watch Mark's report for the first episode
of the new IFC series "The Media Project"

wings Read about and listen to Mark's appearance
with Heavy Metal in Baghdad director Suroosh
Alvi on NPR's Inside Islam.

wings Read Mark's discussion of religious
themes in the book, at the Ford Foundation's
Religion Dispatches.

wings Click here to listen to Mark and Reza
Aslan on "Uprising" discussing youth culture
across the Middle East.

wings Read the story about the book in the London
Daily Telegraph.

wings Get details on how to join Mark
LeVine, Reza Aslan, Iranian metal gods Tarantist
and special guests at the LA celebration for the
publication of Heavy Metal Islam and a special
culture jam about 9/11 on September 10 at the
King King Club. Click the thumbnail below for

wings Click here for details on how to join Mark
LeVine, Reza Aslan, Iranian metal gods Tarantist
and special guests at a special culture jam
about 9/11 on September 10 at the King King Club.

wings Read Mark's discussion of the roots of
Arabian metal in the UAE's The National

wings Read about Mark's experiences in Turkey
in the Turkish Daily News.

wingsAn open letter to Motley Crue

wings READ Mark's article "Islamism and
Heavy Metal" in the Washington Post.

wings READ Mark's interview with the Orange
County Register
about his experiences
researching and writing the book, and how
its impacted his music and research.

wings Go to the RESOURCES section for
interviews about the book, cd and more.

Wings Read Mark's description of how Middle
Eastern metal influenced his writing of the
book at the famed literary/music blog
Largehearted Boy.

Wings READ an exclusive excerpt from Chapter Six,
on Pakistan, in the Huffington Post.

wings HEAR Mark's interview on NPR's
"Talk of the Nation."

wingsView footage of Mark's recent performance
with the tangier-based group Lazywall at
l'Boulevard Festival in Casablanca HERE.

wingsClick thumbnails for photos of Mark
performing with the Moroccan-British band
Lazywall at the 10th annual l'Boulevard Festival,
Casablanca, June 21, 2008. Video and audio
coming soon.

Lazywall lazywall2
lazywall3 lazywall4





Heavy Metal Islam copyright Mark A. Levine, 2008, all rights reserved | Designed by Kendra Bean