Algeria, which is 99 percent Muslim and skews very socially conservative, is also, surprisingly, home to a tiny, diehard community of metalheads, including a fair number of women. Earlier this month, the city of Constantine hosted Fest 213, a rare opportunity for them to headbang publicly and joyously.

Agence France Presse has a pretty great story about the two-day festival, topped with a photo of a woman whose nom de metal is “Sadness Spirit,” and who says local metal shows the size of Fest 213 are pretty much unheard of:

“This is really unprecedented,” said a young woman from Constantine, who called herself Sadness Spirit at the event, which shares its name with Algeria’s international dialling code.

Dressed in black leather, with piercings and dyed-red hair, she was waiting for a concert to begin, accompanied by a friend with her own piercings but also wearing a Muslim veil.

Nearby stood a group of young men dressed in black T-shirts, their arms tattooed and their hair slicked back with gel. “Outside of concerts we don’t dress this way or act this way, to avoid trouble,” said Sadness Spirit.

Metal is picking up a bigger following in North Africa, especially Algeria. A stroll through Instagram shows some striking photos of Algerian metal fans in their natural habitat.

At a time when ISIS is murdering concertgoers, denouncing the Eagles of Death Metal Show as “prostitution and vice,” Muslim metal fans happily nurturing their scene — and the freedom of expression that comes with a thriving alternative music culture — feels much bigger than just the sum of its parts.


Contact the author, anna.merlan@jezebel.com

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