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In the front-line against Islam and its oppression - 72%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 4th, 2016

Admittedly what's known about Janaza can't be confirmed but just the possibility that an Iraqi-based solo black metal project that happens to be headed by a woman existed in 2010 or at least long enough to record one cassette "Burning Quran Ceremony" really boggles the mind. Given that since Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was deposed in 2003 by US-led forces, Iraq has lurched from one state of chaos and violence to another, it's important that the presence of black, death and other metal scenes in Iraq should be celebrated - the existence of these scenes demonstrates that there are musicians in Iraq keen on these musics enough to form their own bands and projects, and to record and publish songs and albums in defiance of the ongoing uncertainty, instability and threat of death from ISIS and al Qa'ida takfiris. That some acts like Seeds of Iblis and Janaza then go so far as to denounce Islam in the recordings they release, risking exposure to the religious extremists, is all the more astonishing.

To date "Burning Quran Ceremony" is the only recording made by Janaza whose sole member identifies as Anahita. It's a very short album, no longer than 13 minutes in total, with most songs averaging between 1 - 3 minutes in length. The quality of the sound is tinny-brittle and crappy - no surprise really, as it's on cassette - and on casual listen the album might sound disorganised. After repeated hearings though the songs turn out to be well thought out and planned, alternating between furious BM ranting and bile on the one hand and recordings of religious chant (usually sandwiched between tracks or lyrics) on the other so that a running commentary is maintained on the religious fanaticism disguised as soothing sing-song serenity or dry lectures. In "Islamic Lies", Anahita lets field recordings of Islamic preachers condemn themselves over driving bass grit churn.

The music is uncompromising, filled with righteous fury and energetic though the recording is not technically outstanding. The vocals are far distant in the mix and heavily distorted - this will be a bummer for listeners but it's understandable in the current Iraqi political / religious context. The advantage of having such distorted voices though comes in the "Black Metal ist Krieg" track where they blend in with the general desert storm textures of the music. We need to remember that the spirit of the thing is more important than how it's dressed up.

The demo might end with a mournful whimper rather than all-out apocalyptic bang but in its short running time it makes its point emphatically and defiantly and puts black metal in the front-line against religious fanaticism and oppression.

Burning Quran Ceremony - 70%

MDL, April 2nd, 2016

Janaza is an Iraqi black metal band, famous for its violent lyrics against Islamism (and religion, in general) and for claiming to be formed by a single woman, that introduced herself by the pseudonym of "Anahita". "Burning Quran Ceremony" is the first demo of this band and it is predictable that the sound quality is not really the best, but can still be enjoyable. Most of the songs from this demo are totally drowned into a bass/baritone sound, with almost inaccessible guitar riffs and drum beats (except for the cymbals). However, you can still listen to some kind of guitar solo-ing during the songs, that strongly resembles Arabian folk music. "Burn the Pages of Quran" sounds like that it is the song that haves the better sound production of the entire demo, while all the others were extremely raw and gloomy.

Unlike the instrumental section, the vocals can be heard well and the lyrics are perfectly perceptible. As you probably know (or not), Anahita's parents were killed during the armed conflicts in her country. Having her family destroyed, along with her homeland and friends, the need to deal with all the armed conflicts and the harsh conditions imposed by religious beliefs and the envy for people that are living well in stable and decent countries, are, in my point of view, strong influences in her vocal performance. You don't need to listen too much of the first song of the demo to comprehend that her voice is full of hate and the lyrics are really strong and blasphemous, insulting Islamism as the most violent way as she could, even though that "Burn the Pages of Quran" is a pretty short track

There are tons of heavy metal bands around the world that talk about war, satanism, sacrifices, rituals and catastrophic/frightful events (such as the Holocaust, natural disasters or Inquisition). However, there are almost no heavy metal musicians (or even musicians in general) that truly witnessed those things or have experienced anything as such. But with Anahita was different: she totally knows how hard life is while living in a country such as Iraq.

Her situation made me remember another famous heavy metal band from Iraq, Acrassicauda, because their lyrics also refer the problems that Islamist extremists brought to people. However, while Acrassicauda talks about it in a sentimental way, mentioning their life while Iraqi citizens and adding hope to their lyrics, Anahita just focuses on blasphemy and hating.

Except for Nargaroth's "Black Metal Ist Krieg" cover, every song on the record has, in its respective beginning and by its mid, vocal speeches and chantings of Islamism religion believers or recorded voice reports of problems related to Islamism and religious extremists around the world. They all have a dull, raw and poor sound production and I believe that those speeches were mixed and distorted in that way deliberately, probably in another method to throw blasphemy against Islamism.

In my opinion, "Burning Quran Ceremony" is not an amazing black metal record, but it will prevail forever on it's registry for the story behind it. There is nothing on this that you could not associate with a demo, in sonorous terms. I also doubt that this will ever get a sequel or a remastered record, since Anahita's other band, Seeds of Iblis, was relocated to France and all the members are probably more worried on keeping their lives safe and identities unknown than writing music on two different projects (plus, the music basically the same, between Janaza and Seeds of Iblis).

Contains the Most Minorities in Existence - 65%

MutantClannfear, December 21st, 2010

Damn, if there was ever a band that was the pure definition of a minority, Janaza would be it. Janaza is a black metal band (normal enough)...female-fronted (quite unheard of, but there's at least a few more out there)... from Iraq (yup, we've gone into one-of-a-kind now)... desecrating Islam (the nail in the fucking coffin). I'm pretty sure Anahita, the sole member of this one-(wo)man band, can rest assured that there is never going to be another band like hers in existence. But Atheist was the first band to mix death metal and jazz fusion, and personally - hold on, let me pull up my anti-fanboy riot shield - I think Atheist's music is pretty boring and almost abhorrent. So perhaps inimitability does not necessarily equate to unanimous enthusiasm. Is that the case for Janaza?

The crappy production is the first thing you'll notice about this demo - no, being a totally "un-kvlt" bastard (i.e. black metal is not my forte), I have never heard Transilvanian Hunger and as such won't make any comparison to its sound and the sound of this demo - because it's some of the worst production I've heard. I'm listening to this album with high-definition headphones, turned up to something around 80 decibels, and this is still as cloudy and murky as a foggy swamp. For those of those unenlightened to typical black metal production, it sounds like the demo was recorded in a coffin. The only exception is the song "Burn the Pages of Quran", which is also my favorite song here (coincidence? Probably not), but for the most part here, everything is very muddy.

As for actual song composition? Not too unique, but not terrible either. "Burn the Pages of Quran" is the only song that truly blasts as early black metal tended to do. "Islam Lies" is a bit louder, but slower in tempo, using a swinging beat. "Arise" uses a riff that is hardly metal, but is very...beautiful at the same time. "Black Metal Ist Krieg" is another song with an old-school black metal sound, but this one doesn't blast, it uses another swinging beat. Finally, "When Islam Brainwashed Mankind" has a very funeral-ish, nihilistic tone, and it'd make a beautiful drone doom song were it slowed down a few dozen BPM or so.

Surprisingly, despite the terrible production quality, the guitars and drums both have a very nice tone to them. The snare, particularly, reminds me of the sound of snapping necks. The guitar, though being mostly all-out rawness, sometimes calms down and lets a beautiful melody arise, like the outro track and the interlude of "Burn the Pages of Quran". And the vocalist...For a female, Anahita has a pretty amazing voice. Not melody-wise but...the girl can scream. She pulls off the various tones of the shrieks and screeches pretty convincingly, and there's not much flaw to find in them.

Though the slower songs tend to be a bit of a letdown after hearing the amazing two-minute "Burn the Pages of Quran", I overall enjoyed this demo. It's not perfect, but for what it is - a black metal demo from Iraq in which all the instruments are played by a chick - I'm not complaining. So to answer the question concluding the first paragraph of this review, maybe - though I doubt this band will appeal to every black metal fan, it is a worthwhile listen, regardless of the minorities it employs.