(photo credit: )
In the past five years, Mizrahi music has gone from being the most unappreciated genre of music to something more mainstream. More and more people recognize the popular Mizrahi artists. Heavy metal, however, is still very much on the sidelines.
"I can't see myself doing any other kind of music," says FestiKasach Jerusalem heavy metal festival organizer Yehi Zaken. Zaken is also a member of Schwrtze Haye, an Israeli heavy metal band. "There is a very limited playlist of music aired on Israeli radio. It's not only metal that isn't being played. I think 90 percent of musicians in Israel live in the underground: jazz artists, extreme electronic musicians and any other non-mainstream music," he says. Zaken adds, "Everyone has something to say and they do what they feel is right. I didn't plan on playing heavy metal. I just wanted to make music and it happened."
Zaken organized the first FestiKasach in 2004. "There weren't a lot of heavy metal shows back then so we created the festival to bring the biggest names in the industry. To know about the festival you had to read the special magazines - Metalist Magazine and such. There is hardly any info about metal music in the major newspapers," he explains.
A non-metalist probably isn't aware, but Israeli heavy metal bands are hugely successful around the world. "There are bands who signed up with big labels in the US and some play in front of huge audiences," Zaken says. "For example, The Fading (which will perform at the festival) took first place at the talent competition in Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany, one of the biggest heavy metal festivals in the world."
Aside from The Fading, the festival features Prey for Nothing, a melodic death metal band which recently released its first album, Rusty Cage, with a Dutch recording company. As with The Fading, this will be Prey's second visit to the festival. Other bands include Prowlers, Israel's leading Iron Maiden tribute band.
"Prowlers is terrific," says Zaken, "It is an almost perfect copy of the original. In general, we are able to get the big bands from the center of Israel. At first it wasn't known if there was a heavy metal audience in Jerusalem but the festival proved to everyone that there is," Zaken explains. "Now there are about five to seven heavy metal concerts in Jerusalem every year with most of the concerts organized by bands from the country's center. Each show brings about 100-150 people but the audiences are growing," Zaken relates.
One of the festival goals is to publicize new bands and help create a following in Jerusalem. Among the new bands are: Betraytor, a promising young band from Modi'in playing old school 80s trash metal; Anomaly, also a trash metal band; and, Red Cross, which plays new style American Metal. Both Anomaly and Red Cross are bands from Jerusalem.
"A lot of bands want to take part in the festival so I do the screening process myself," says Zaken, and promises with a smile, "All bands are from the death metal to trash metal spectrum, so a lot of balagan is expected."
FestiKasach takes place today, December 25 at Yellow Submarine, Harechavim 13, Jerusalem, (02) 679-4040. Tickets are NIS 40-50.