Remember 2008’s awesome documentary, Heavy Metal in Baghdad? The documentary followed the travails of Acrassicauda, a metal band in Iraq desperate to be free to perform. Not unlike that film, director Tracy Noelle Luz made a film about metal bands in an oppressed country closer to home, Cuba. They Will Be Heard is a film about the Cuban metal scene. According to the filmmaker, metal came to Cuba in 1986 with Metallica, fueling a generation of Cuban metal fans that grew up to form the country’s first metal bands. They Will Be Heard documented those bands, focusing on bands with names like Escape, Combat Noise, Zeus, Agonizer, and Hipnosis.
As a result of that documentary, which also focused on Escape keyboardist Jennifer Hernandez’ immigration from Cuba to the United State, Lu and Fernandez formed UnBlock the Rock, a movement to bring bands from oppressed countries to the United States. And tonight, in Jersey City, NJ, the town’s city hall will play host to Unblock the Rock Occupies City Hall, an all-ages free night of Cuban metal. The show, which stars at 7, will feature FireHaze, a Cuban death metal band that Hernandez, now a legal U.S. resident, plays in. At 9, Testament’s Alex Skolnick and Acrassicauda vocalist Faisal Talal will take the stage to perform an Escape song.
“When most people think of Cuban music, the last thing that comes to mind is heavy metal,” Skolnick says. “Like so many people in the US, I wasn’t even aware of a Cuban metal scene, yet I’m thrilled to report that it not only exists, but is flourishing despite the blockade of our own country and Cuban government policy. It is a privilege to lend my name and support to UnBlock The Rock, an organization devoted to the liberation of these virtuosic, unsung musicians who deserve to be heard by ears outside of Cuba.”
The first initiative of UnBlock the Rock is to bring Escape to America for the first-ever Cuban metal tour. There will be photography displayed in City Hall, which will be available to purchase, with proceeds going towards UnBlock the Rock, and an after party across the street from city hall at the Merchant. As a Jersey City resident, I can attest that this might be the most metal thing that’s happened since I moved here. And for any metal fan living in Manhattan that might be considering going, it’s only a five minute train ride from the World Trade Center, so come out and support. Find out more about it here.