Thursday, January 06, 2005

Mentalblog, Matisyahu, and Jewish Music's Equivalent to Anthrax

After reading Mentalblog's posts about Matisyahu, I went out and bought the CD. I am very impressed, especially with the song "Got No Water". Matisyahu successfully takes reggae and elevates it, infusing it with kedusha.

This brings me to Anthrax, a "thrash" or "speed-metal" band that was formed in the 1980's. They were my favorite band when I was in junior high and high school - and their guitar player Scott Ian was even Jewish. You always enjoy the music that you listened to growing up. You just can't shake it. Anthrax's music has such a power behind it that it effects me like no other music. Unlike other heavy metal groups, their lead singer actually sang, and sang lyrics about societal problems such a poverty, intolerance, racism, and drug addiction.

I am still waiting for Jewish music's equivalent to Anthrax. Maybe then I could listen solely to Jewish music. While I greatly enjoy Yosef Karduner and Simply Tsfat, I need something to listen to while I am running on the treadmill. I need something that rocks!

Matisyahu has shown us that it is possible to make Jewish music from genres of music that are not traditionally thought of as "Jewish". Is their anything innately wrong or "un-Jewish" with heavy metal music? How about if it is performed by Jewish musicians who sing about Jewish topics?

Forty years ago just the thought of putting Jewish songs to rock music was unheard of. It is not of unheard of today. It is quite commonplace. Just because something "has never been done before" isn't a reason why it cannot be done now. There aren't any specific halachos that prohibit "Jewish" heavy metal. If reggae can be taken an elevated, heavy metal sure can.

So, where is Jewish music's Anthrax?

19 Comments:

At January 6, 2005 at 8:47:00 AM EST, Blogger Tamara said...

Or Jewish music's D'Angelo? Or Maxwell? Or India.Arie?

 
At January 6, 2005 at 1:00:00 PM EST, Blogger Anshel's Wife said...

I'm not crazy about heavy metal. But I do like rock and roll. Have you listened to Blue Fringe? I like them.

 
At January 6, 2005 at 1:59:00 PM EST, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Sorry to toot my own horn here, but that's exactly what I set out to do when I formed Kabbalah 20 years ago. Make music that people like myself (and you) would listen to because we like it, not because it's Jewish. You can hear a bunch on the Psycho.Radio without downloading, or get mp3's off of www.mosheskier.com

 
At January 6, 2005 at 9:46:00 PM EST, Blogger jah said...

The Band that became Anthrax had another Jewish Guitarist, Bob Rosenberg, who now lives in Monsey and goes by the name Yitzchak Rosenberg. He has a band called the Yitzchak HaLevi Band. He is a very deep guy and a good friend.

 
At January 7, 2005 at 9:54:00 AM EST, Blogger MoChassid said...

Simple:

There may or may not be anything wrong with putting Jewish music to raggae.

The question is whether there is anything wrong with playing in trief nightclubs that attract 70% sixteen and 17 year old yeshiva students (where Mattisyahu is not the only act and the other acts are VERY far from holy) and where there's all kinds of stuff going on that is not exactly in accordance with halachah.

 
At January 7, 2005 at 2:55:00 PM EST, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I joined Jewish Rock Bands *precisely* so that I would not have to play in Goyishe Bars. My goal was always to play for Jews, but to play the kind of music that I enjoy playing and listening to. That being said, there's nothing that compares to experience of playing or listening to music in a rock or blues club. Acoustics, atmosphere...you just don't get the same feel in an auditorium or shul. It is simply the best way to hear this type of music.
It's unfortunate that there aren't any similar all-Jewish venues available. (Or maybe there are in NY?)

 
At January 8, 2005 at 11:20:00 PM EST, Blogger NYPDJew said...

Well, being a die hard metal fan for many many years I wanted to add my two cents here. Antrax is included in a long list of bands in the Metal genre that hold a wealth of talent. The perception of those looking into the Metal world from the outside that they can not sing is entirely fallacious. Take Cradle of Filth as an example. One could assume from their gutteral grunting and screaching that they can not sing. The truth of the matter is that lead singer Danny Filth has a slew of academic musical credentials and has a rather talented voice. We see the same in Metallica's Black album. Metalllica showed us a side of them that we never saw before. As silly as the songs GWAR plays one still can not deny their underlying tallent. OFcourse their are legends like Megadeath, which has its roots in Metallica. Dave Mustane started out in Metallica. Other very tallented Metal bands include Rammstein, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, King Diamond, and Heindreich.

As for the question why Yiddishe music has not taken on a Metal flavor the answer is simple. Metal explores the dark side of the personae which is the antithesis of Judaism. Have you not noticed that there is no Jewish song in a minor key! If you know of one email me.

 
At January 9, 2005 at 1:30:00 PM EST, Blogger velvel said...

Aren't most Jewish songs in a minor key? The metal difference is that it's faster, louder, and more distorted. There are depressing lyrics in all genres.

 
At January 11, 2005 at 7:23:00 PM EST, Blogger Ari Frumsky said...

Just as a note for those that are interested. There was a Jewish metal band around for a short while called Midbar. I don't know what ever happened to them. I'm sure others will come and go. And of course .... 'there's always room for one more...'

 
At January 12, 2005 at 4:08:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know how many Jewish metal bands I've found in Israel? There is a healthy underground scene here both in the frum community and the secular community. I have interviewed many of them on my show. Sorry I don't have a login but I am Benyamin Bresky and you can listen to me every Sunday on The Beat on http://www.IsarelNationalradio.com. This week I have a sort of hard rock band, but in the past I've done some truly ripping groups. You may think it's a novelty to see guys in long payos, black hats and tzitzit totally thrashing, but I've see them all the time. And they're not just ripping off American groups either. There is no way that this one band from Tzvat could possible have access to a mass amount of CDs when all they do is sit in yeshiva all day. Check out http://www.metalist.co.il/ or do a search on Jewish and metal in Google. Fell free to email me at bbresky@IsraelNationalRadio.com.

 
At June 10, 2005 at 9:30:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob never played with Anthrax. His brother never played for the Stray Cats. I'm not 6'10" and the sky isn't purple.

Believe me, I'm right.

 
At June 30, 2005 at 12:55:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simple Jew, WHERE have you been in the last 10 years? There is a real true Jewish HEAVY METAL Rock artist named David Lazzar. He has put out 3 different cd's since 1996-2005. I saw him perform in N.Y this past March on Purim night in the Village. He is the first religious Hasidic Jew to do this. His music is still underground, because the market for Jewish Heavy Metal is not as big in the Jewish world as Rap or Reggae. He also performed with Mattisyahu last summer in Montreal. David Lazzar's Web site is DAVIDLAZZAR.COM He has a lot of fans in N.Y. and in the U.K. He is constantly being aired on the station Arutz shevah in Israel. My friend just heard David Lazzar being played all this past week on Arutz 7 .

 
At January 15, 2006 at 12:35:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now and then I dig through teh Web to look for Jewish-themed metal. I've been slowing building a collection of songs and information. My dream is to join/form such a band (I've been drumming almost 30 years and have a metal enthusiast almost as long). Perhaps the most commerical effort lately is Orphaned Land's "Mabool", which has numerous Jewish and Israeli influences.

 
At January 15, 2006 at 3:46:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Do you know of a URL that has soundclips from Mabool?

 
At March 2, 2006 at 5:54:00 PM EST, Blogger MissShona said...

I totally agree (although I do think there is "Jewish" heavy metel out there - somewhere).

 
At March 2, 2006 at 5:59:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

MissShona: Thanks for your comment. I am still looking for it.

 
At May 3, 2006 at 5:20:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, David Lazzar is pretty good. There's this other band Teihu they have stuff posted at Teihu.com but it's old stuff, I heard them live recently in Pittsburgh and they've gotten much better than is aparent from the stuff on their website I think they are supposed to play Syracuse University later this year opening for Lazzar.

 
At September 21, 2006 at 9:53:00 PM EDT, Anonymous David Miller said...

The bass guitarist from the Midbar band now plays with the David Lazzar band. His name is Mo Gelber , he is completely nuts but a great musician.I recognized him playing with the Lazzar band at Yidstock. He even has a myspace page.

 
At October 18, 2006 at 1:14:00 AM EDT, Anonymous jacob_the_jew said...

I dont know if you guys have heard of Omek Hadavar. They just put out a new disc on Sameach label. Its called Depth of the Matter. Some of their songs are pretty heavy. I've seen them play too. They're not quite metal but they get pretty heavy in some of their songs.

 

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