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
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