There are many Nightwish fans in countries where they do not sell cd's or have western music channels on TV. In Iran downloading and listening to western heavy metal is illegal, but it doesn't stop a fan from being a fan.
"I never forget that Tarja's operatic voice on that track and that beautiful song. For the first time when i heard it, it was so strange for me I got shocked. I stopped in front of TV and just watched till it finished.
So I could write the band's name and the track's name."
The band was Nightwish and the track was Sleeping Sun. It was almost the turn of the millennium and Iran had just got new digital satellite channels. "Before that we could watch just Turkish channels", explains Amir Kharrazi, the photographer who was 17 yo at the time.
To mail CD's from abroad is usually impossible because of Iranian customs.
Internet became highly popular in Iran at the beginning of the 21st century, and according to Wikipedia it still has the second highest percentage of its population online in the Middle East, after Israel. In 2005, all western music was banned from Iranian radio. In recent years, there has been blockage and censorship on non-Islamist websites and social networking sites as Facebook and YouTube. However, downloading is the main source of metal music in Iran.
"Metal music is illegal in Iran", says Amir. "We don't have proper music shops or metal bands. The only way to get music is to download video clips or albums, it is impossible to find CD's or original DVD's in here. Our friends or relatives should bring music albums from another country to Iran. To mail CD's from abroad is usually impossible because of Iranian customs."
The censorship does not kill the fandom. Downloading is easy for those who know how and where from to search for the music. Amir finds the situation now a bit better than few years ago: "Metal music is available more than before and more fans can listen to it. It's not as difficult as before to find metal music. Earlier it was very unusual to be a metal fan in Iran. It was so difficult to find metal music that only the true lovers looked for it."
Amir believes that if Nightwish had a gig in Iran, it would be a shocking surprise for all Iranian fans. "It is my biggest dream to see the band live. They have so many fans in Middle East, especially in Iran. A country with such a long history, Iran has some problems right now but I’m sure the band would have one of the greatest adventures of their lives."