Adam Lucente, a junior at The George Washington University, studied with AMIDEAST for the first session of summer 2011 Intensive Arabic in Amman, Jordan. In this submission, he desribes his Jordanian friends’ taste in music, focusing on the metal genre. Enjoy!
Heavy metal is not the most popular genre of music in the states, so I didn’t exactly expect to find a plethora of “metalheads”, as us fans of the genre are called, in Jordan. I had read about metal groups in the Middle East, and there is actually a book on the topic (Heavy Metal Islam by Mark Levine), but most of the bands I read about hailed from the more western countries of Israel and Turkey. I was thus pleasantly surprised to find a group of guys in Jordan who shared my love for this often overlooked genre of music.
Upon learning that I played guitar, my host brother introduced me to a few musician friends of his. One evening, these friends picked us up and drove us to one of their homes, where there was a guitar, an amplifier and a recording device in the basement. On the way, one of them put in a Metallica cd. He asked me, “You like Metallica?” to which I replied, “Tabaan (of course)”. He then rolled down the windows and turned it up loud. Metal sounds best loud, but I was under the impression it was a taboo genre in the Arab World. My friends made it clear that there were no metal concerts in Jordan, and that the little bit of a scene they had was very underground. Yet as we drove, they blasted the music freely. I was used to hearing Amr Diab songs coming from cars on the street, but not Metallica.
When we got to their practice room, we jammed. I showed them some guitar riffs and some bands I knew on youtube. I was anxious to learn if they knew of any metal bands from the Arab World, but they knew of few. They did know of the Israeli and Turkish bands I had read about, however. And of course, they had heard of many bands from the West. That night was one of my most memorable in Jordan.
I was told by many people that Americans often take for granted the rights we have. I knew going into Jordan that the people there may not have as many political or social rights as I did. But one right I guess I took for granted was the right to play and listen to whatever music I want. My friends in Jordan have to be somewhat discreet when they listen to heavy metal, yet they listen to it anyway because they love it. From America to the Arab world, metal lives on. Rock on Jordan!