According to the band’s representatives, authorities called off the August 2 performance at the Hard Rock Cafe in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, saying that Megadeth’s imagery, notably the Vic Rattlehead mascot, was unsuitable for Malaysian youth.

The government also refused to grant work permits to the band and crew.

In addition to canceling the concert, Megadeth CDs and tapes have been taken off store shelves and the band’s distribution company, Sanctuary Records Group, has been forbidden from shipping further copies into the country.

“Megadeth is very disappointed that they won’t be able to perform for their fans in Malaysia. I’m sure Megadeth fans in Malaysia are equally disappointed,” the band’s manager, Larry Mazer, said. “Hopefully, the political climate will change so that one day Megadeth may return to Malaysia to play for their fans who have waited a long time to see them in person.”

The Malaysian government has ordered state-run television and radio to play less heavy metal music to curb the spread of a teen-age group that allegedly dabbles in the occult and listens to hard rock, news reports said Sunday.

Khalid Yunus, the deputy information minister, directed broadcasters to substitute clangorous songs for “music which is pleasant to the ears,” the Sunday Star and New Sunday Times newspapers reported. The directive takes effect immediately, the reports said.

During the past week, government officials have voiced anxiety over the existence of a so-called Black Metal group mainly in northern Malaysia, comprising ethnic Malay Muslim teen-agers who allegedly slaughter goats and drink their blood, listen to heavy metal music and smoke cannabis.

Officials have warned that the government will press for criminal charges to be brought against the group’s organizers. Ordinary members are expected to be sent for counseling and religious classes.

Megadeth are currently touring Japan and the Pacific Rim. Southeast Asian shows are scheduled for Seoul, South Korea; Taipei, Taiwan; Jakarta, Indonesia – a political hot spot – before the band moves on to Australia and New Zealand.