There's an interesting post on Metal Israel, consisting of an open letter to Ozzy Osbourne, asking him not to play in Israel on 28 September, which is Hoshanah Rabbah:
I beg you, switch the concert date. It’s good for you. It’s good for Israel. Don’t disrespect G-d on His own turf. Please, Ozzy. And I want to come see you. I love you. Don’t play on chag.
Aviva, the author of the letter and of the blog is an orthodox Jew who loves metal. Now I don't for a second think that the letter will be effective. And I don't think that it's necessarily appropriate to send such a letter. That said, I can identify with the letter up to a point. I'm not an orthodox Jew but I virtually never go out on Friday nights and at least some of the festivals. Consequentially, I've missed a lot of my favourite acts (for example, I'll miss Converge and Kylesa in July). That's what it is to be Jewish I guess. I suppose that Aviva's point is that if you play in Israel you need to respect Jewish law. I don't accept this myself but I can certainly see how it can be pretty galling to live in a Jewish state and still be faced with the kinds of dillemas that diaspora Jews are faced with. Still, the separation between religion and state is to me much more important. And in any case, it's good to be reminded that you're Jewish once in a while by making a sacrifice - even in Israel.
Atzmus are an Argentinian band who play an intriguing mix of metal and spiritually-inclined middle eastern-flavoured Jewish themes. I don't know much about them (my Spanish is really bad and the wsbite isn't in English) but they have a Charedi lead singer a la Matisyahu. Here's the only track they have available at the moment:
Here's a new (at least I think it's new) and typically idiosyncratic video from the wonderful Koby Israelite:
I heard from the ever reliable Jack about a new Yiddish folk metal band called Dibbukim. They are from Sweden and I don't know whether they are Jewish or not (not that that necessarily matters). They claim to be the only Yiddish metal band which means they haven't heard of the (possibly defunct) Gevolt. Anyway, the one track they have available is really promising:
The new Orphaned Land album is now out. I have an article on the band, featuring an interview with singer Kobi Farhi at The Forward. As I say, the new album's progressive metal stylings are sometimes convoluted, but it's always an exhilirating and passionate journey - and the fusion of middle eastern music and metal is always complusively interesting. The promo photos are something else:
I recently got sent a CD called 'Better Get Ready' by a New York-based Jewish punk band called Moshiach Oi. It's down and dirty, fearsomely fast and undeniably hardcore. The band are ultra-orthodox, probably Chabadniks from what I can gather and the lyrics reflect this with lots of talk about Moshiach and mitzvot. The aggression of punk seems to match the fundamentalism of the message.
While the Metallica-logo shtick would appear to suggest yet another Jewish parody band, Chasidica are much more interesting: their left-field alt rock influences combine with their interest in chassidus and kabbalah to produce quite an intriguing brew (although they too are prone to bouts of tiresome Moshiach-ism).
When I think of bands like this, plus other acts like Y Love or Matisyahu, I'm struck by how pretty much the only Jewish acts who sing about spiritual/religious stuff that I like tend to be orthodox - and often ultra-orthodox. The kinds of Jewish music I can't stand tend to be made by Reform Jews - who I am much closer to in practice - like Craig Taubman or Debbie Friedman. Progressive religion doesn't seem to fit well with cutting edge music, at least in the Jewish case. So the most intriguing music tends to be made by either secular or orthodox Jews and the centre is mostly pretty mushy.
There's another pattern here: the music I seem to enjoy most seems to be made by people whose views I don't share, even abhor. I seem to like the music of fundamentalists like Moshiach Oy or Burzum more than I do the music of people like me. Perhaps because fundamentalists are good at passion?
So nu am I being unfair? Probably...
Semi-ambivalent Jew, ambivalent Metaller. Occassionally ambivalent sociologist, researcher and educator. Non-ambivalent husband and father