It’s understandable to flinch at the sight of the phrase “Aryan black metal.” Since its origins in early ’90s Norway, black metal has had a Nazi problem. At this point in the genre’s history, it’s a permanent stain, and one that has to be re-addressed with depressing regularity.
At the same time, black metal bands from non-Nordic countries have been adapting the genre’s sonic tropes for their own purposes for years. In California, the Black Twilight Circle (Crepusculo Negro), a collective of Latinx artists, has been making Mayan/pre-Columbian black metal, with lyrics in Spanish or Nahuatl and mixing native instruments with buzzing guitars and unholy roars. Taiwan’s Chthonic bring in traditional Chinese instruments, and sing about the history of their native country. And now Akvan—a one-man project from Iran—has emerged to function as an additional corrective, giving the phrase “Aryan black metal” a more historically accurate meaning.
Akvan is the project of a person who goes by the name Vizaresa, who mixes raw black metal guitars and blasting drums with traditional Persian instruments like the tar and setar. Tracks begin and end with readings from Persian history, or Zoroastrian prayers, and the lyrics tackle Iranian history and mythology. He has released three EPs since 2015, deeply considered meditations on his own culture and how it is misinterpreted—not only by outsiders, but by his own country’s leadership.
Vizaresa answered questions by email.