The Iranian heavy metal band Arsames have fled their home country after they were sentenced to 15 years in prison for playing their music.
The musical genre is considered to be a violation of the country’s strict laws on blasphemy. Members of the band Confess were previously sentenced to over 14 years in prison and 74 lashes for their music.
It’s now been confirmed that Arsames have followed in the steps of Confess by fleeing the country before any such punishment could be served.
In a statement to Loudwire, Arsames said: “Our music is about our past culture, history… that they think when we growl and play fast music we are into Satanism! The skulls on our t-shirts means the same for them as satanic musicians.”
Detailing their initial 2017 arrest, they said: “We were in our studio during rehearsal. They moved us to jail that day and [did] not [tell] our family about where we [were] for a week.
“Finally after nearly a month later we paid bail to come out of prison and they told us you should not work, release [or sell] your merch until your final court … and do not talk with media! Our Instagram page, official website … banned and they shot down all for a year, but we built a new Instagram again and [started] to be active until few weeks ago [when] the court called us again and they gave us 15 years [in] prison. So we had to escape from Iran.”
While they are yet to confirm where they have escaped to, Arsames recently posted a YouTube video describing their sentence, which was issued by the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Mashhad.
“Is it a crime that we are playing metal music!?” they said. “Is it [a] crime that we are talking about Persian history?! Is it a crime that you think we are into Satanism when we have songs about Cyrus the Great and monotheism!? Is it a crime that we love music and our country?!”
The Iranian government is yet to respond to this latest development.