Arsames is a (Persian ancient) death metal band that rises from Mashhad, Iran. The band had played in Sikkim Music Festival last year alongside X-Mantra, and they will also be touring Darjeeling for the Underground Unleashed Festival in September later this year. Here is a short interview with the band’s front-man Ali Madarshahi and manager Mohsen Faiiazi.
For those who haven’t listened to your music yet, could you please describe Arsames briefly?
Arsames is the first Persian ancient death metal band formed in 2002 in Mashhad by front-man Ali Madarshahi. Most of our songs are based on ancient Persian mythology.
What does the band name Arsames actually mean?
Arsames (520 BC) was the king of Persia during the Achaemenid dynasty, who was the grandfather of Cyrus the Great. He was the first instructor of human rights in the world.
So how do you define Persian ancient death metal?
Well, it’s not a separable genre. All death metal elements like heavily distorted guitars, deep growling vocals, blast beat drumming, etc. are used in it. The only vital distinction lies in our lyrics and the use of Persian scales in songwriting.
You guys had headlined the Sikkim Music Fest last year, sharing stage with X-Mantra from Nepal. How was the whole experience playing in this part of the continent?
Yeah, that was really a good experience. To meet new people has always been lovely for us and we met many nice people there too. Metalheads in all corners of the world have the same attitude – they always look like a strong Army full of emotion and kindness. We really liked the behavior of Nepali bands especially X-Mantra. Their music was really awesome.
Well, the band had released the debut album “Immortal Identity” in 2010. How have the responses been so far?
We got well regards from fans and it has helped to keep us working and working.
And I’ve learned the album was dedicated to Ronnie James Dio, R.I.P.?
Yes, Ronnie J. Dio was a great person – the voice of metal, and his career was so huge and honorable that we decided to dedicate our album to him. And also, we wanted to show our sympathy to his family and his fans.
The band has announced the start of work for the next album, “Epic of the Kings”. Has the work started already? How is it going so far and when will it probably come out?
Yes, we have started it recently and we will effort hard to release a good album for our listeners. We are satisfied with the process of our work and we hope the album will be released at the end of 2011 or early next year.
Could you explain the philosophical/lyrical content behind Arsames’ music?
As said above, we focus on cultural and ancient background of Persia for the lyrics as you know most of pop bands focus on shallow topics such as materialistic love and have ignored some deep meanings such as culture, identity, humanity, etc.
And what are the band’s primary influences, musically?
Our musical influences include Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Kreator, Amon Amarth, Behemoth, Opeth, Arch Enemy and many more. We think we are also looking for something from our ancient Persia to create an epic music that no one has done before.
Could you name few of the notable concerts you have played?
In 2009, we performed in an international three-day Unirock Festival in Istanbul, Turkey, where we opened for Amon Amarth. We had shared the stage with famous acts like Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, Kreator, etc. then.
We’ve learned that heavy metal music is illegal to perform in Iran. So is it that there is no live scene there? Have you played any live show there?
Yes that’s right. Metal music is illegal in Iran and there is no any metal performance here. We haven’t played any live show in our own country, and we are not going to do that till the day the government accepts to give us the permission of doing it with vocals.
So what do you say about the overall existence of heavy metal bands in Iran? How hard is it?
It is very hard to play metal music in Iran but we think it’s a good chance to practice and work harder for being great bands and make some new music in this situation.
In fact, Iran is one of the hardest places to play metal music but don’t forget, this hardest situation has made us to be stronger, heavier and louder. We love to see metalheads grow up in our country and be a main part of the metal world. When we talk about 3,000 years of culture, we have to stay and fight for it!
What about the western music in general in Iran?
Most of the Iranian people like pop music; they follow the news about their favorite superstars and their new stuff. Moreover, they try to keep themselves up-to-date. There are a lot of genres of music that they like and listen to, like heavy metal, jazz, rock, blues, hip-hop, etc.
How are the metal recording studios?
There are some underground recording studios here but they are limited in hardware and software.
And what about women into heavy metal?
We have some female metal vocalists in Iran and they are trying hard to prove that Iranian females could be good metal vocalist as well!
Well, I read somewhere that you (Ali Madarshahi) are into heavy metal music for more than twenty-five years. How did you discover the music (and the western music in general) at first?
(Ali-) I first discovered rock music. When I was a kid, one of my family members gave me some cassettes from Pink Floyd (“The Dark Side of the Moon”). I was inspired by their music, and it was an awesome moment in my life to listen to something different than what I have listened before in radio, so I decided to discover more of this kind of music. Then I slowly started to find records by Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Sodom, Testament, Megadeth, Kreator, Venom, Exodus, and more and more, so the METAL side of my life began to grow. I was fourteen when I started with heavy metal.
Cool. So what do the band members do besides playing in Arsames?
We do individual works for money – teaching music, graphic designing, etc.
Finally, any last words you want to throw to the metalheads here in Nepal?
Well, we wish good days and luck for our fans and other metal bands around the world and also we hope a peaceful year for all people and all metalheads in Nepal.
Thanks for the interview! HORNS UP TILL DEATH!
Interview featured on the 8th Issue of ktmROCKS e-mag
You can check out more about Arsames in their official band pages: