The Iranian metal band Confess' third album, Revenge at All Costs, is so brutal that the Iranian government sentenced them to 74 lashes, which is probably—horrifyingly—a better advertisement for it than any promotional materials their record label could cook up.
In 2015, Iranian authorities arrested Confess singer and guitarist Nikan Khosravi and his bandmate Arash Ilkhani. The two metalheads were charged with blasphemy and anti-government propaganda for the band's pointed anti-religious lyrics and criticisms of the state. Khosravi spent 18 months in Tehran's infamous Evin prison while awaiting trial, three of them in solitary confinement.
After they were found guilty and sentenced to six years behind bars, Khosravi and Ilkhani were granted political asylum in Norway and fled their home country. They channeled the whole experience into their third album. In a genre where aggression is sometimes an affectation or escape fantasy, Confess' anger is concrete, political, and personal. It's not a put-on when Khosravi screams on "Phoenix Rises," the album's third track, "They can't fucking break me for who I am."
The Revolutionary Tribunal of Tehran gave "Phoenix Rises" a negative review when it was released as a single and raised Khosravi and Ilkhani's combined sentences to 14 and a half years in prison and 74 lashes in absentia.
Stylistically, Confess lands somewhere in the realm of the new wave of American heavy metal, groove metal, and metalcore. Think athletic mid-tempo guitar riffs, breakdowns, and hardcore vocals. If you're a fan of Lamb of God, Slayer, and Sepultura, you'll find a lot more to like here than Iranian authoritarians did. Lamb of God and Clutch collaborator Gene "Machine" Freeman produced the album, giving it a polished touch.
Khosravi's fury cuts through the mix and commands your attention from start to finish. You can hear why the mullahs were scared.