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Anti-Islamic female black metal band from Iraq a hoax?

Anti-religious sentiment has been a hallmark of metal since the genre was born.  And in the decades since then, anti-religious tirades by metal musicians have gotten rather tired and predictable.

But last year, the metal blogosphere was taken aback by Janaza, a purported “anti-Islamic black metal band fronted by a female in Iraq” who introduced herself with a single called “Burn the Pages of Quran.”  The mere mention of this song’s ballsy title made even the most hardened of metalheads take notice.  I remember personally telling members of Acrassicauda (another wartime Iraqi metal band) about Janaza before their show last July in San Francisco, and watching their eyes go wide in shock.

In other words, Janaza was awesome!

 

I was immediately hooked (also known as “Where-Can-I-Buy-Merch? Syndrome”) and wanted to find out more.  But aside from a 5-cut demo and some brief interviews with frontwoman Anahita, there was little info out there about Janaza.  Of course, Anahita’s deliberately low profile was completely understandable, as she needed the anonymity to preserve her safety — especially since she (supposedly) already had lost both of her parents to sectarian violence in post-invasion Iraq.

But now, the more Anahita talks, the less believable her heroic story becomes.

Earlier this week, The Atlantic published an article by metal writer “Grim” Kim Kelly about the burgeoning Middle Eastern anti-Islamic metal scene.  The story revolves around Anahita and her projects Janaza and Seeds of Iblis, another anti-Islamic black metal band  (supposedly) based out of Iraq.  Kelly writes that Anahita insisted on corresponding via Facebook rather than phone, and much of the resulting information in the article about her isn’t anything new from a year ago.  Nevertheless, the Atlantic story was Janaza’s and the other mentioned bands’ biggest publicity to date.

And then, the Internet happened!

Shortly after the Atlantic story was posted, a commenter named “Boullan” pointed out that at least one of Iblis’ band member photos was taken from the line-up of another obscure black metal band.  That photo was used by Seeds of Iblis on their Metal Archives profile and on their 7″ EP Jihad Against Islam, which was released last year. (on the French label Legion of Death — tsk tsk!)

Iblis guitarist “Yousef” may look familiar to fans of Norwegian black metal band Vulture Lord.
The same photos were used by Seeds of Iblis inside their debut 7-inch EP.

And that wasn’t just a one-off occurence.  Another band in Kelly’s piece named Tadnees (who are in a black metal coalition dubbed the Anti-Islamic Legion, alongside Janaza and Seeds of Iblis) pulled a similar switcheroo with their “band photo” and that of German Nazi black metal band Morke.

Yes, really.

An anti-Islamic black metal band (left) and an anti-Semitic black metal band (right) walk into a bar…

One last instance of pictorial plagiarism comes from Anahita herself.

Another commenter on the Atlantic article named Raúl González recognized the (supposed) photo of Anahita from somewhere else. You see, Raúl is an amateur photographer in Mexico, and he posted that photo of his wife (who is not Anahita) a couple years ago after she dressed up in fake blood and corpse paint for a photo project he called “Black Metal Barbie.”

Photo from Raúl González’s “Black Metal Barbie” set repurposed as Janaza publicity photo.

After Anahita’s use of fake photos was brought to the Atlantic editors’ attention, all photos purporting to be of her or her band were removed from the article.

Of course, there could be a simple explanation to the fake photos — these self-professed “anti-Islamic bands” are living in too dangerous environments to show their own images in public.  So, they instead use photos of their idols or other cool pics they find on Google Images to promote themselves.

But their story still doesn’t check out!

Anahita claims Janaza and Seeds of Iblis are both based in war-torn Iraq, and are part of the deeply underground Iraqi metal scene.  And according to the Atlantic story, two of her Seeds of Iblis bandmates were in previous bands:

Seeds of Iblis features five men and one other woman besides Anahita herself (Epona, who has also spent time in the now-defunct black metal band False Allah)… One of the band’s guitarists, Yousef, pulls double duty in Tadnees.

Here’s the kicker:  False Allah and Tadnees are listed as from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, respectively.

Do they really expect us to believe that two Seeds of Iblis members immigrated to post-war Iraq to start the band? Especially since Anahita has stated on record that they’re actively trying to score a record deal. (I doubt many A&R’s hang out in Baghdad — where Anahita claims Iblis have played concerts)

Ms. Kelly, how did you not notice that???

At the end of the day, there’s little reason to doubt that Anahita, Janaza, or Seeds of Iblis are anti-Islamic metal musicians.  However, their Acrassicauda 2.0 backstory of currently living in Iraq and covertly dodging “religious authorities” as Kim Kelly’s (supposed) reporting describes just doesn’t add up.  And since that was their main claim to blogosphere fame, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to promptly give them the Milli Vanilli treatment.

And since they’ve hid behind fake photos and only talked to the press via Facebook messages, it also doesn’t seem unreasonable that Anahita could be a 40-year-old white guy from Georgia.

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  • Sibaweih An Nahwee

    Realy stupid band in world & hell

  • Holy shit this is going to piss people off! Where I can see where heavy metal is coming out of Iraq they were on the other side of history for years.

  • Trollballini

    I guess it’s only cool to hate Christianity…

    I mean it’s not like someone could have made this themselves in protest of a fucking sick religion or something, and borrowed images to keep themselves anonymous so they wouldn’t get their god damned heads chopped off by a bunch of quran wielding fucktards or anything…

    Eat shit you hypocrites.

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  • JackBlack1

    This wasn’t a hoax, before they moved to France, they had to use photographs of other people to protect their identities from the very people they’re speaking up against, if these terrorists and oppressive regimes found out who they were they would be executed.

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  • Achos

    I just googled this again to see if there were any developments… One thing everyone seems to have looked over is the fact that someone on Nuclear War Now! forums sent Seeds of Iblis an email and traced the IP address of the reply. The IP was located in Jordan.

    • Achos

      Overlooked, fuck I can’t type today.

    • R_S

      Not conclusive – When i don’t want to be known on the internet, i can use a VPN or Proxy, and my IP can be from anywhere in the world. A lot of false IPs are based in India and the middle east.

      My bet is that these guys are not from where they say they are. It’s a colourful back story to make them more interesting… but hey, even if they’re sitting cozy in Paris or Delaware – the musics not bad, and the message is clear. It’s a shame they’re under so much scrutiny for the falsifications not. That’s dwarfed the aims of the project – Anti Islam, and showing the world that if a woman from Iraq could possibly release an anti islamic album, someone from a safer country can.
      We should overlook the falsifications and start forming more bands like this across the world. Then maybe some real Iraqi anti islamic female black metal will surface!

      Black metal helped thousands re-think their christian programming during the 90s. Now is the time for it to open the eyes of the world to the problems of Islam. We can’t let the threat of repercussions hold us back any longer! These sentiments should be as commonplace as the antichristian ones we see today!

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  • NS Creep

    “anti-Islamic ns creeps”
    If being against Islam is NS, then I am proud to be an “NS creep”.

  • Prophet Of The Gods

    The music is too good to be a lie. Why would someone lie in a way that would discourage the ability to promote themselves and their band. If the’re from a country outside of Iraq, it would be so much easier to sell such music. Those of you who critize this band are jelieous of Seeds Of Iblis simply becuase your in denial that your mindless western consumer culture is no better than the middle east. In fact we are inferior to people from the middle east because we are brainwashed with the selfesh ignorant concept called “freedom”. Freedom is the biggest lie in the history of humanity. Its for those who have no discipline and used as an excuse for selfesh behaviours.

    • Find us one person that has ever seen Seeds of Iblis and/or Janaza perform live, and I’ll be more inclined to believe you.

      (well, except for the whole “freedom” rambling part of your comment)

  • Sean

    Bit of an ignorant assumption, aren’t you forgetting that even people in Iraq have access to the internet? And if they’re passionate enough about making political music and outing their lives on the line the story in regard to their alleged locations seems plausible enough…and doubting how genuine it is based on the photos is ridiculous – obviously they aren’t going to pose for photoshoots even in corpsepaint and put them up on the internet….

    • Sean

      (Also, not all of Iraq is completely wartorn, you profess to having awareness of world affairs but seems a pretty simple, misleading assumption that Iraq is basically a massive warzone, which it isn’t)

  • WOW Hetal this is why you are just the man you lil Muckrake !!! m/

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  • ANONYGUEST

    Can I just point out that, if I was an anti-Islamic black metal musician in the middle east… I, too, would make up a complete load of rubbish about where I was from, what I looked like, who I was, and who I knew. Because the alternative is pretty violent.

    •  Would you resort to blatant plagiarism as well?  Fuck off.

    • Achos

      As it has been pointed out before- it would have been even easier for them to not published photos at all. Many bands have retained their anonymity for years by simply not taking pictures and without claiming others’ pictures as their own.

      If anything, this attempt to ‘throw people off the scent’ has placed their real identities under even more intense scrutiny than they would have been otherwise.

  • Pingback: JANAZA: A Hoax, or Case of Metal Self-Preservation? | Geodissonance | Metal Injection()

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  • Killchaine

    what about this pic? I dont think its stolen or more like Im not sure because it looks like whoever it is here is wearing the a shirt with the Janaza logo on it http://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/photo.php?fbid=310722105659207&set=a.102292273168859.3192.100001642597795&type=1&theater

    • Achos

      Content is unavailable (at least to me).

    • Killchaine

      I think you have to login to be able to view it, let me see if I can find it somewhere else though

    • You should just post a screenshot of the Facebook page on Imgur and link to that.

    • Killchaine

      yeah I guess it only works after you log in and then click the link I posted. facebook can be stupid sometimes

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  • Killchaine

    oh well at least there are other bands that arent afraid to use real pics in Iraq such as Al Namrood and Dhul Qarnayn

    • Javier

      Neither of those bands are from Iraq. Al-Namrood is from Saudi Arabia and Dhul Qarnayn is from Bahrain.

  • Herle Maggard

    The most damning aspect of it wasn’t the photo theft. It was the fact that she took “Anahita” on her word when she claimed members from two bands were traveling to Iraq from SA and Bahrain to play shows. It shows an ignorance of world affairs similar to the “hey guys, crusties and NSBM dudes in Europe get along” idiocy in her MDF piece. 

    Just incredibly lazy, myopic reporting. If you can even call emailing one person and NOT BOTHERING TO READ THE FUCKING METAL ARCHIVES LOCATIONS FOR ALL THE BANDS ANAHITA’S NAME DROPPING reporting.
    For fuck’s sake, put down the Metal Hammer for ten minutes and read Newsweek or something. 

  • Achos

    So are there any updates on this? Has anyone managed to contact Anahita?

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  • Duowcewy

    They could also be anti-Islamic ns creeps from northern Europe.

    • I’d have no problem with them actually being anti-Islamic, but I would have a problem with them actually being northern European.

  • Yikes. This is the type of mistake that causes people to lose their jobs. 

  • Rob//LURKERSPATH

    *hardER to explain. My apologies.

    Also, despite my disagreements I’m glad there’s someone out there writing articles like this and keeping an eye out for frauds. Hails.

  • Rob//LURKERSPATH

    I think the band’s story deserves a more charitable interpretation. Maybe Tadnees and Seeds of Iblis were Iraqi bands who had moved to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to avoid the conflict and have since moved back home. That strikes me as totally plausible. If I were an ethnic Shia wanting to get away from the Iraq War, I’d head to Shia-majority Bahrain. Saudi, on the other hand, is hard to explain, but migration between the two countries is considerable enough for it to be just as plausible. So let’s not call bullshit too quickly, eh?

    • Javier

      Completely agree.

    • “Maybe Tadnees and Seeds of Iblis were Iraqi bands who had moved to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to avoid the conflict and have since moved back home.”

      You know “the conflict” in Iraq is still raging on arguably worse than ever, right? (without the benefit of a relatively stable government, i.e. Saddam’s regime, to keep order)

      Seems like these bands were counting on Westerners’ ignorance of the region to further purport their fishy backstory.

  • Ingrid

    Good to know, thanks for sharing this info. m/

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  • Ghostofasaint

    anyone ring velvet cacoon and ask them if they know anything? 😉

    • I conducted some thorough research on Velvet Cacoon after seeing them mentioned a few times around this story, but didn’t quite understand the (funny) parallel.

      Please, enlighten me. 🙂

  • Sure, she might have plagiarized those photos, but that’s not enough to condemn her. Even if Janaza turns out to be a hoax, I say, “So what?” I still love her work. I’ve written up a lengthier response here:

    http://autisticmetalhead.blogspot.com/2012/07/in-defense-of-janaza.html

    • Achos

      “The author conveniently forgets that we now live in the age of the internet. Bands no longer have to be in the same room in order to rehearse or record.”

      Maybe for some bands, but the Heathen Harvest interview clearly says that the band play live gigs so that argument won’t wash here.

      No one is claiming that the stolen images are conclusive proof that this is fake, but they are a major red flag. And how did you know that they were plagiarised before anyone else? Granted, the band are blasphemous, but it’s easy to say things when there are no consequences. No one particularly respects Western black metal bands that pick on the Christian church because it’s a safe target. Much of Anahita’s image depends on people believing that she could be put to death for doing what she does, but that shock and admiration would all disappear if it turned out she was safe and sound in Europe or America. The impact would be lost.

    • I responded on your blog but — as Achos already mentioned in his reply below — you overlooked how Anahita claims to have played live gigs with Seeds of Iblis in Baghdad over the past year.

      Unless they were performing via FaceTime, this is one helluva hole in her story.

  • Achos

    I’ve just sourced another one of the stolen photos. It’s a Janaza one, taken from a DeviantArt user.

    Stolen: http://strangemoss.squarespace.com/storage/anahita.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1294912583613

    Original: http://immortalityy.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d1vrg3z

    More when and if I find them.

  • Achos

    Nice one, it’s cool to see all the evidence in one place.

    Is there any record of her supposed thrash band, Desertor, ever having existed? I’ve been searching high and low for anything to do with them but the only mentions I can find are in Kim’s article. If they were real, they disappeared without a trace. Speaking of which, does anyone even have anything on False Allah? They’re mentioned on Seeds of Iblis’ Metal Archives page but there’s nothing else.

    • I haven’t found any trace of Desertor or False Allah online — but that just means they didn’t have a MySpace/Facebook page, not that they didn’t exist altogether.

      Nevertheless, Jason from The Gauntlet (who broke the story about Janaza last year) says he is in touch with Anahita and will soon set the record straight.

    • Mike Apokalypse

      Achos… You seemed to have missed the point of Hetal’s article. Everything about Janaza/Seeds Of Iblis and Anahita is fake. All of the bands were falsely manufactured myths created to get a record contract (more than likely by some zionist indie rocker from Santa Cruz California). There never was a Desertor or False Allah.

    • Achos

      I completely understand the point of the article. I was asking if there’s any evidence of these bands existing because if they did, it would give the story more credibility and if they didn’t, it’s just another nail in the coffin.

      The Atlantic’s article said that Desertor recorded a lot- if this was true than someone must have heard something, they couldn’t have completely disappeared. That’s why I asked.

      Personally, I’m positive that it’s all lies but more evidence one way or the other can’t hurt.

    • Hetal

      Yeah… The Atlantic’s article said a lot of things.

  • Sage W.

    Kim did good work here — as she mentioned in her article, it began with an article on Janaza / Seeds of Iblis at the Heathen Harvest Periodical.  I am a co-founder of that ‘zine, and nothing was ‘falsified’. Every word that we wrote came from Janaza’s mouth.  We’re trying to figure out for ourselves what exactly the deal is as well after reading the fact checking done here (nicely done article, for the record).

    • Hey Sage,

      I actually had read your blogpost about Janaza and Seeds of Iblis before writing this.  Your story was where I noticed the first mention of Tadnees (the Seeds of Iblis guitarist’s other band), which eventually led me to find out they’re based out of Saudi Arabia.

      I don’t think you, Kim, or anyone who has written about Janaza/Seeds of Iblis in the last 18 months is intentionally misleading us. Rather, I think Anahita & Co. are lying about their history in order to seem more br00tal and heroic, and all of us (yes, including me up until 48 hours ago) fell for it.

      Thanks for checking us out too — kinda crazy to think that we actually have readers! 😛

    • Throw the Dice and Play Nice

      Hi Metalluminati,

      I want to say that I respect and appreciate the work/writing you have done in contributing to the ‘flushing out’ of this story.

      I had written a reactionary piece to Kim Kelly’s article, (http://nice-dice.blogspot.com/2012/07/stereotype-as-tough-to-break-as-steel.html?m=0) centered more so on the discussion of musical stereotypes, *before* any of this additional information came out. It has generated a conversation over on my site, with differing opinions, which is always good for discussion but it’s nice to know that even in the face of finding additional details about this story, you support the bottom line that people who wrote about any of it, (like Kim Kelly, Sage and myself,) as well as anyone else continuing to discuss it -even in light of new details- are not out to mudsling or mislead to cause trouble.

    • Sage W.

      I have to admit that I’m not too bothered that the other members are from other areas of the Middle East.  It isn’t too out of the question that travels were made — and with the rise of the internet, who knows how the recordings were actually done.  It’s the photos that bother me most — but one burning question bothers me more.  Let’s say Janaza /is/ a fake project by some random person anywhere in the world.  Why utilize photos of other people if there’s no real concern for consequences?  If she wasn’t actually in any real danger, wouldn’t it seem /more/ likely that she’d use her real image?

      Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s bizarre at best.  I just think there is probably more to the story than “it’s a hoax”.  I’m just trying to put myself in her shoes.  Obviously you can’t simply put a sheet over your head and take a photo — with the anti-Islamic sentiments, I’m sure she wouldn’t want to put off the image of wearing anything like a burqa.  It seems the only options available, for sake of her safety, would be either to use no images at all, or re-apply images from the internet in a distorted fashion.  She should have done the former obviously, but everyone makes a stupid decision now and again.

      I’m still cautiously skeptical.  I just want to give the benefit of a doubt.

  • hpaq

    I highly doubt The Atlantic would let a story run without some kind of fact checking, and Kim doesn’t strike me as someone who would falsify a story. This would have been caught somewhere. 

    • I don’t think Kim falsified the story at all, rather I think the people she spoke with (i.e. Anahita and Seeds of Iblis) falsified their story.

      The Atlantic has already retracted the photos of Anahita, and I’m sure they’re now skeptical as hell about the rest of the band’s backstory.

  • mithra

    Sounds criminal.  Pretty serious business to fake a story like that, create a holding company for other phony bands under the premise of what is basically Andres Breiviks mission in life and then get coverage.  Criminals on both sides of the coin here…good investigative reporting, and on a metal site – ha!

  • coldgintimeagain

    Couldn’t have happened to a more professional “metal scribe.”

    • Explain.

    • Achos

      One thing that springs to mind is a year or two ago when she published two glowing reviews in Terrorizer and it turned out that both bands were signed to a label that her PR company represents.

    • Nazgaroth

      Kim Kelly is an idiot. I, for one, am sick of her “cvlter than thou” attitude. She has flaked out on numerous artists that have hired her to do press because she’s too busy being a merch girl on tour, meanwhile she begs and pleads her way into doing press for bigger projects (which she does completely for free). 

      As a writer, Kim is very well known for using her writing jobs as a means to write about bands that are paying her which is a clear conflict of interest that any blog, paper, magazine, etc should take note of.

      This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding this human waste. However, I prefer to focus mainly on her “professional” shortcomings rather than launching into a full tirade against her personal life. 

  • Aptenodytes

    Nice work. I initially ‘swallowed’ the Atlantic piece, the only bit that didn’t make sense to me at the time was the inverted crucifix on her forehead.
    This band may have got away with the hoax for a lot longer if they’d refrained from using photographs altogether.

    • I chalked up the inverted crucifix to being imitation of standard black metal imagery. 

      However, it’s the fake photos and especially the inconsistent comments made by Anahita in interviews over the years that opened the floodgates for this blogpost. (I’m not kvlt enough to have recognized those photos of other bands, but I figured Grim Kim was)

      Moral of the story:  Don’t lie about your band on the Internet — people will find out!