Slave to Sirens: Lebanon’s first all-female metal band shreds trauma

Written by Vincent Nguyen, produced by Bennett Purser

Lilas Mayassi, left, and Shery Bechara are founding members of all-female thrash metal band Slave to Sirens. Hailing from Lebanon, the band is the subject of Rita Baghdadi’s latest documentary “Sirens.” Mayassi and Bechara met at a protest and formed the band in 2015. Photo courtesy of Rita Baghdadi.

Slave to Sirens is the first all-female thrash metal band in Lebanon, and the new documentary “Sirens” follows their effort to break through in the country and abroad.

The film begins with scenes from mass protests against government corruption in 2019 known as the October Revolution. It stems from years of economic hardship and civil war.

Rita Baghdadi, director of “Sirens,” says music is a way for Band members Lilas Mayassi and Shery Bechara to express their emotions coming from generational trauma.

“[Lilas’] form of self-expression is metal music. She uses her guitar-playing and her band as her way to channel her anger for the country, for people, and everything that she's had to deal with.”

Mayassi and Bechara met at a protest and founded the band in 2015. Bechara plays lead guitar, while Lilas plays rhythm.

“They really work together to make magic happen. … There's a lot of creative differences. There's a push and pull about how to manage the band and just … being that age in your life where everything is changing for you, and you're really trying to forge your own identity,” Baghdadi says.

And in making the film, she adds that many feelings have gone unspoken. “A lot of things that happened that they never talked about, and that maybe the rest of the band didn't know about — it goes one layer deeper than just the creative differences cliche,” Baghdadi says.

While other bands struggled to find gigs, Slaves to Sirens thought they caught a break with an opportunity to play at the U.K festival Glastonbury, but their early time slot didn’t help attract more fans.

“They actually played really well,” Baghdadi says. “They played their hearts out, so I felt that it was an important scene to include in the film, because that's the struggle of bands more so today than ever — just struggling to get your music out there and show what you can do.”

Since then, the original vocalist and drummer have left the band, and the rest of the members are still looking to fill those openings.

“They're just still in this sort of in-between stage with the band,” Baghdadi says. “I think more opportunities will come once they've been able to secure new members.”