Heavy metal making a cautious comeback in Egypt

Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:03am EST
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By Emad Abdalla

CAIRO (Reuters Life!) - The mostly black-clad crowd goes wild in a frenzy of slam dancing to the music of heavy metal band Black Sabbath, played by Egyptian rockers on a placid bank of the Nile river.

Heavy metal musicians and fans, once branded as dangerous Satanists by the Cairo government, are making a quiet comeback in deeply conservative Egypt, where they are trying to avoid missteps that sent heavy metal to the gallows in the mid-1990s.

It has taken heavy metal artists and fans years to crawl back to the limelight and in the meantime a new generation of rockers has emerged, playing safe and imposing self-censorship to avoid accusations of devil worship.

Moanis Salem, 28, whose band Invaders was formed in 2006, said he has had no problems with the police or complaints from the cultural center.

"We are not playing tracks of a blasphemous nature or glorifying Satan. We are not seeking trouble," he said.

Salem, who has also played with homegrown band Divine, said the new generation of rockers was fortunate to have the Internet to communicate with fans.

But he regretted the low turnout at concerts, which are mostly held at the Sawy Cultural Wheel on Zamalek, a Nile island close to downtown Cairo.

"Now we use the Internet to communicate with people, announce times of concerts and share our music with fans but to tell you the truth old is gold. Thousands used to rock in. Not any more. The largest crowd we had in Sawy Center was 350 fans."   Continued...