Lebanon’s Metalheads Aren’t All Satanists

Here is my latest piece for VICE. The youth in Lebanon has suffered enough bullshit from sectarian violence and Israeli bombardment to be subjected to this kind of crap from their own media. The state of the media here is actually a joke and this story proves something can be done about it.

It seems this bizarre new cultural amalgamation of dubstep, breakcore, IDM and metal has worked its way out of lank-haired Black Bloc protesters’ iPods and suburban America, and into dilapidated buildings in the Lebanese countryside. Finally, right?

A couple of weeks ago, around 250 people headed to Massacore – a Halloween-themed rave – to bop along mildly to international breakcore acts with the kind of names you only ever hear in breakcore (stuff like Drumcorps, Rotator and Goretech), a bit of dubstep and sets from Lebanese metal bands Blaakyum and Kimaera.

I went down to interview a few of the artists and revel in the unique spectacle that is a breakcore/metal gig in the Middle Eastern countryside, but – aside from the tame, eight-person moshpit and insanely cheap vodka – there wasn’t really much to report. The vibe was sort of “family day at Glastonbury”, with studded gas masks instead of pacifiers and theatrical, twiddly thrash metal rather than a Mr Scruff DJ set and Phil Jupitus reading his self-penned jazz poetry.

The Internal Security Forces – Lebanon’s camouflaged, M16-wielding police force – turned up at one point, immediately harshing the minor buzz that was starting to develop. But once everyone realised they’d just popped in to ask the organisers to turn the music down a bit, proceedings carried on in the entirely inoffensive manner they had been before.

Besides being a little poorly attended because of another festival happening the same day, the event was a success in most people’s eyes. A tranquil success, but when the scene is as small as it is in Lebanon, that’s kind of to be expected. The next day, however, that placid tranquility had somehow been warped by the Lebanese media into an illicit Satanist gathering, with camera crews desperately scouring through the site to find one crudely drawn pentagram and a Monster energy drink sticker that, without absolutely any shadow of a doubt, proved that this old bunker had been victim to a meeting of the most evil minds this side of Hades.

Following the news report, a talk show on Lebanese MTV also claimed that the festival had been a smokescreen for an evening of Satanic rituals. Host Joe Maalouf – a man who once publicly outed a load of Lebanese homosexuals on television, prompting the country’s only LBGT association to regretfully out him in retaliation – was spouting the kind of religious rhetoric that made Glenn Beck sound like Christopher Hitchens’ foreword in a Richard Dawkins book. He then held a seemingly bogus interview with some guy called Eddie who claimed to have been at the festival, uncovering a load more totally believable revelations about the true nature of the evening.

Read the full story over at VICE

Follow the story closer on the Massacore Facebook page.

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