For I AM KING, metal is a mat­ter of life and death.

For these Dutch melodic death met­allers, mu­sic is a sym­bol of hope. For Ira­nian front­woman Alma, it’s a mat­ter of life and death

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - Words: HyWel davies

AlmA AlIzADeh hAD to take some huge risks to make it to the pages of this mag­a­zine. Born in

Iran, she be­came a po­lit­i­cal refugee at the age of nine, es­cap­ing to the more lib­eral sur­round­ings of the Nether­lands, where she has lived ever since. In fact, the For I Am King front­woman may never get the chance to see her na­tive land again – fronting a death metal band could lead to her ar­rest, or worse, if she should ever re­turn.

Though many years have passed, there are mem­o­ries that still echo in her mind, prov­ing a lot for the front­woman to bear. “I re­mem­ber liv­ing on a farm with my fam­ily,” she re­calls of her home­land. “I re­mem­ber that my par­ents had to move away be­cause of po­lit­i­cal rea­sons but I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand any of that when I was a kid. When you see peo­ple leav­ing their coun­try or their homes on the news, not ev­ery­body can un­der­stand just how hard the re­al­ity can be. I haven’t re­ally talked about it a lot. It’s still very dif­fi­cult to tell any­one what

I went through.

“When we ar­rived in Hol­land, I no­ticed that ev­ery­thing was much big­ger and peo­ple were dressed dif­fer­ently, but I felt so at home here,” she con­tin­ues. “I re­mem­ber learn­ing the lan­guage quickly and one of the rea­sons why was be­cause the peo­ple helped out so much. I feel very lucky to be liv­ing here. I can lis­ten to metal when­ever or do what­ever I want to do. I wish ev­ery­body could have the same ex­pe­ri­ence and the same feel­ing as I did when I moved here.”

Though she bash­fully ad­mits to her love of the Back­street Boys when she was grow­ing up, her tastes ultimately took a much heav­ier route, cul­mi­nat­ing in the volatile melodeath fe­roc­ity of For I Am King. If Arch En­emy were in a re­lay, this five-piece would be the next con­tenders to pick up the ba­ton.

Alma tells Ham­mer that metal was non-ex­is­tent in her life back in Iran. “I didn’t hear any metal be­fore I left home,” she ex­plains. “I didn’t know any­thing about tat­toos, heavy mu­sic or any­thing like that when I lived in Iran. But I re­mem­ber my mom and dad would play Abba, Bee Gees and Queen a lot. Those are the first bands I re­mem­ber who weren’t Per­sian. Sys­tem Of A Down was the first of the heav­ier bands I started to lis­ten to. Then bands like Slipknot came along, with Me­tal­lica and Iron Maiden. When I met Jur­gen [van Straaten, FIAK bassist], he in­tro­duced me to more hard­core and met­al­core mu­sic like Un­deroath, Hate­breed and es­pe­cially Walls Of Jeri­cho, who were a huge in­spi­ra­tion to me.”

The NeTher­lANDs’ AT­TI­TuDe to­wards refugees con­tin­ues to be pro­gres­sive, hav­ing ac­cepted around 60,000 asy­lum seek­ers back in 2015 at the height of the Syr­ian cri­sis. Talk­ing with Jur­gen, this was a sit­u­a­tion he and his fam­ily couldn’t ig­nore.

“I think for Alma, this sit­u­a­tion still hits home on a daily ba­sis. It re­ally opened my eyes. There are a lot of refugees around here and my fam­ily tries to help where they can. I also try to help by driv­ing peo­ple to their fam­i­lies who have been separated. Over­all, the po­lit­i­cal side of the Nether­lands thinks we should help each other out, no mat­ter where you are from. We’re all hu­man, we are all the same.”

No other song on lat­est al­bum

I re­flects more on Alma’s child­hood ex­pe­ri­ence than Home. With the record be­ing the band’s most per­sonal re­lease

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