Success for the death metal album written in Bet Shemesh yeshivah

By Marcus Dysch, November 29, 2012
Avichai Myers (second from right) and his band, Skarthia

Avichai Myers (second from right) and his band, Skarthia

A Bet Shemesh yeshivah may not be the first place that comes to mind when deciding where to compose a death metal music album.

But for 21-year-old student Avichai Myers, the mix of Talmud and thrash came naturally.

“It is uncommon but there’s a connection between Judaism and metal. Just like there’s a lack of understanding of Judaism, there is a lack of exposure and understanding of metal and what it is about,” he said.

“We do not worship Satan. It is about empowering yourself, and about becoming a mensch. There is a real community feel.”

Mr Myers formed his group, Skarthia, six years ago with friends Adam Gigi and Sapir Rajuan while attending Hasmonean High School, in north London, and taking part in charity gigs.

The group, which now includes its only non-Jewish member, drummer Wayne Thompson, released its first album, Retaliate, earlier this year.

Mr Myers finished composing the record while studying in Israel.

He said music had been mainly a hobby, but after moving to the yeshivah he discovered a thriving metal scene in Israel and set about finishing the record.

“Metal is like a fine wine — you have to give it time to mature. It’s an acquired taste.

“Some groups do straight out thrash, others have something more methodical but with the singer screaming over the music. There are a lot of classical elements that are linked with metal.”

Having first picked up a guitar at the age of 15, Mr Myers became “notorious for being extremely loud” during lunch breaks at school. But the hard work has paid off. Earlier this month Skarthia secured its first headline performance at a gig in north London.

Mr Myers, who now studies popular music at the University of Essex, said observing Shabbat and only performing on Sundays and weeknights had “set the band apart from others”.

He added: “You don’t need a record label these days. You can do it yourself and we have all chipped in with the process. It was a slow start when the album was released but now we are getting some good reviews saying how great the album is and how different it is to other people’s work.

“I’m proud but also relieved. My parents are very supportive. My dad did not expect me to do this, I think he thought I would be a lawyer like him.”

Last updated: 10:56am, November 29 2012