‘Slave to Sirens’

This all-women Lebanese metal band is unafraid to confront stereotypes and sexism

Lebanese heavy metal band Slave to Sirens performing onstage. (Twitter)

A Lebanese metal band, Slave to Sirens, is cutting a scandalous swath across the Middle East following the release of their first EP, Terminal Leeches, in March. Speaking to BBC News, the members of the group spoke about working on their first album — as well as what it’s like being one of the first all-women metal bands in the region.

“The kind of music we play is extreme, it’s metal — fast and heavy,” explained lead singer Maya Khairallah. “Our lyrics talk about things other bands here don’t talk about.”

“In our songs, the message we’re trying to get across most of all is how society is always pressuring people to act a certain way,” added drummer Tatyana Boughaba.

Bass player Alma Doumani, clad in all-black and an Iron Maiden T-shirt, said that being part of a metal group — and a woman on top of that — was difficult for her family and others to accept. Nonetheless, she said, she persisted because of her love of music — and her belief that it’s better to be judged and live one’s life as one wants to than to be restricted by society’s norms.

“The extended family expects girls to go to university, get a job, get married, have children and become a housewife,” she explained. “Woman can do what they want to do. People will talk either way. In the end it’s your life, you’re free to do what you want. “

In particular, noted rhythm guitarist Lila Mayassi, the late hours required for practice and gigs was considered shameful by much of their community.

“All our practicing and recording takes place at night. So the idea that a young woman would be out at night alone, that was a real problem,” said Mayassi. “[They’d say:] ‘Oh, she’s home late. The neighbors might see you!’ People think you’re either on drugs, or crazy, or you’re devil worshippers.”

Lead guitarist Shery Bechar insisted, however, that she and her fellow bandmates were more than capable of overcoming such obstacles.

“They just try to push you and put you down,” she said. “But we always get around it because we have each other.”

Watch Slave to Sirens’ interview with BBC News — and hear them rock out — below.

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