lebanons first allfemale metal band shakes up maledominated field
Last Updated : GMT 19:07:01
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Last Updated : GMT 19:07:01
Arab Today, arab today

Lebanon's first all-female metal band shakes up male-dominated field

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Lebanon's first all-female metal band shakes up male-dominated field

The women hope that Lebanese society will accept them.
Beirut - DPA

Lebanon is not a country most people would associate with female empowerment. Though the mainly Muslim and Christian nation is more liberal than other Arab states, it is still very much a male-dominated society.

For women, drinking alcohol and staying out late are frowned upon; and Lebanese families and public life are still very much run according to patriarchal structures. Performing loud and aggressive music certainly isn't what most people would consider ladylike behaviour.

All of which has made life challenging for Slave to Sirens, a five-piece all-Lebanese female heavy metal band.

But that hasn't stopped them from making music together in this traditionally male-dominated genre, with songs focusing on female empowerment, corruption and other societal issues.

"In conservative societies in the Middle East, like Lebanon, forming such a band is not as easy as in European countries," says Lilas Mayassi, the founder of the band.

"When we first started our performances in 2018, people came to see us as if we were aliens from outer space. They thought we were a bunch of drug addicts or devil worshippers performing on stage," says Mayassi, a 23-year-old music teacher and guitar player.

The band is named after the sirens of Greek mythology, who are said to have lured sailors with their music and voices to the rocky coast of their island.

"We did not know what to expect," Mayassi says. "For a lot of people, it was the last thing they thought they would see on stage - girls playing this kind of aggressive music."  

Mayassi had always dreamed of forming an all-female heavy metal rock band, but had spent two years searching for fellow members, to no avail. Then, her dream came true when she met Sheryline Beshara, also a guitar player, at a demonstration in Beirut in 2015.

"We spoke a little bit and decided to meet and create a band," Mayassi says as she tunes her guitar for a rehearsal session in Antellias, north of Beirut.

The new friends then started searching on Facebook and other platforms for more members, and eventually they found Alma Doumiani, a 23-year-old bass guitarist; Tatyana Boughaba, 23-year-old drummer and psychology student; and Maya Khairallah, a 25-year-old interior designer, who became the lead vocalist and main composer.

"Our songs are mainly related to female empowerment, corruption,  society and other aspects related to human nature," says Khairallah.

All of the members had to deal with disapproval from their conservative families, they say. "It was difficult. The families did not understand what we were doing. They didn't know what heavy metal music was. They had lot of questions to ask," Mayassi says.

Despite their hard work, the band members don't believe they have much chance of becoming successful in Lebanon, as the audience for such music is very small.

"So we are thinking of relocating to a European country, possibly Germany," says Mayassi. In fact, the band played a gig with the German thrash metal band Destruction in Beirut in summer 2018.

"The band came to play in Beirut and we were asked to play and introduce the band to the audience. This was our first chance to play in front of a foreign male metal band and it was a good experience," Mayassi says.

Slave to Sirens have already released a four-song album called "Terminal Leeches" and are working on a new one with eight songs.

The women hope that Lebanese society will accept them more once they become more famous. "We are starting to get accepted by the some people in Lebanon, especially by some men who come to our performances," Mayassi says.

"We have a long way to go, and we will face more difficulties - but we will not abandon our love of heavy metal, the music that united us all."

 

 

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