Image: Camilla Norvoll
Revenge is something we’re taught not to seek. But as much as we’d all like to be the bigger person, there’s times when vengeance is satisfying, warranted and most importantly justified. Seven years ago Confess‘ second album, In Pursuit Of Dreams, was released, and just days later band members Nikan Khosravi and Arash Ilkhani were in solitary confinement following charges of blasphemy and propaganda against their home country of Iran. At one time they potentially faced execution, but after being charged they were able to flee to Norway, where they quickly returned to playing music with a newly formed line-up. The result is Revenge At All Costs, a bitterly pissed off new record taking aim at all those who made their lives hell simply for playing the music they love. The anger is palpable. Where once their music contained an element of NWOBHM flair, now there is only seething thrash shot through with steamrolling grooves.
To hear more about his story, the anger fuelling their music and why he’s seeking revenge at all costs, we spoke to vocalist and guitarist Nikan Khosravi.
Congrats on the new album! After everything that’s happened since your last release, it must be a relief to have it finished and ready to put out?
Thank you! It is a great feeling to be able to release an album again after seven years of dealing with problems. It’s great to see that fans loved the record. It also been receiving some great reviews too. The new album ended up in the list of top 50 most anticipated metal albums of the year by Metal Hammer, which was awesome!
Your story has been recounted many times online, but for anyone unfamiliar with the band, can you tell us a bit about who Confess are?
We started in 2010 in Tehran, Iran. After releasing two studio albums and several singles, me and my bandmate Arash were arrested by the revolutionary guards for the charges of blasphemy and doing propaganda against the state! We were in jail temporarily for a year and a half and made bail for $80k USD. After that in 2017 the first court gave us six years of imprisonment and in the appeal they turned my sentence to twelve and a half years of jail plus 74 lashes!
We left the country. At the moment we are in Norway, making and playing our music with a new line-up.
What inspired the album? Who are you seeking revenge upon?
The tragedies and the situations that I was in inspired me to write this album. The story of our lives in those years. Different aspects of my life…
What sort of themes can we find in the lyrics?
Our anger in this record is mostly aimed towards those who were responsible for this, which is the regime in Iran and those who tried to stop us!
You went through a lot to get to where you are today. To what extent do you think those experiences have influenced your new music?
I would say a lot! This music has always been an outlet to talk about myself, my feelings and my thoughts. So to go through all of those tragedies and troubles and come out finally in one piece, it made my music a place to pour and release my brain and heart into it more than ever before. The whole process made me more aware of how therapeutic and cathartic this band is for me!
Did what you went through ever deter you from wanting to continue as a musician?
Of course not! It just made me realise how strong my art is. That it can scare a government to send out its army after us! The whole thing just made me more determined, motivated and headstrong. It was like pouring gasoline on fire!
You’ve suffered more than most for your art. What does it mean to you to now be able to write and perform more freely?
It’s not something that I take for granted for sure. As you mentioned I paid a huge price for doing this. So it adds to my devotion.
You’ve always been a band who aren’t afraid to speak your mind, regardless of the consequences. How important do you think it is for artists to stand up for what they believe in?
Art has always been the light at the end of the tunnel for making changes. So I think it is crucial that artists speak the truth and stay real! The power of music is unimaginable. So you as an artist can breed a new generation of more outspoken, more brave and intelligent people that will stand up for the greater good and what’s right!
Some in the metal scene have used the genre to express hateful and authoritarian ideologies. What do you think the metal scene can do to combat NSBM and other harmful views found within the genre?
That’s just so stupid! Metal has no place for shit like that. Confess stand against all of these stupid and medieval thoughts. To us radical religions and white supremacists are equally dangerous and must be dealt with!
Thanks so much for your time! To finish off, what do you have planned for Confess going forward?
Of course we will start to play live again at some point and will do a tour. Hopefully the restrictions regarding the pandemic will go very soon. And of course there’s not gonna be another seven years of waiting for the next album! Thanks for having me.
Revenge At All Costs is out now via Rexius. Order here.
Words: George Parr