First and foremost I want to thank everyone who has written me showing their support! It means so much to know that folks care about us as people, regardless of their feelings about the current situation. You all rock! *throws up horns*
In my first entry, I said I would answer questions, and many folks sure quickly responded some good ones! So what I’d like to do now is answer a few of them for you. There are some things that I just don’t know, so my answer might be a little vague. Sorry! In the future I will definitely be trying to get more perspectives from some of my comrades out here. But since we’re just getting warmed up, I’ll answer these questions the best I can:
Q: Are you/troops trying to get Iraqis into Metal?
A: I honestly don’t think there is interaction between U.S. troops and local nationals on that level. My personal interaction with Iraqis has been miniscule, and music had never been brought up in our simple conversations. However, I’m sure Iraqis working closely with coalition troops have heard plenty of Western music, though I would bet money that it’s been more Hip Hop, Pop and mainstream Rock than Metal.
Q: Are there any Iraqi Metalheads?
A: Again, I can only speculate. If there are, they’re probably the upper-class citizens who’ve been able to travel abroad, and maybe go to college elsewhere (hopefully to Europe to hear some of the amazing bands there!). Most, as I understand, still listen to very traditionally Middle-Eastern music or the popular variants and I’m sure heavy metal would be offensive to their ears.
Q: Is it true US troops use Metal for interrogation purposes?
A: It’s true that interrogators were (not sure if they still are) using Metal to irritate detainees into talking. As I said, the aggression and abrasiveness of Metal is offensive to their ears. However, the music cited to have been used was the likes of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Drowning Pool’s “Bodies”, which is hardly what I would have chosen. Talk about showing restraint! On an interesting side note, this apparently isn’t the first time Metal was used as an effective military tool; there’s a popular story that the Army blasted various heavy metal and rock songs for days to smoke out Noriega in Panama.
Q: What’s with the title? Are you an Atheist in the Army? Do you feel you’re in a “Godless Endeavor”? Are you just a big fan of Nevermore?
A: The biggest reason we went with this title is because it’s a great title of a popular modern Metal album, and would be instantly recognizable amongst most Metalheads. Aside from the Atheist question (I am not), I personally feel that violent conflict is an earthly struggle brought about by the fault of man, and there is nothing divine about it. We all bring our faiths with us, and it helps many cope.
Q: Is there a particular band/song/album that helps you drive on out there?
A: Music has always been a huge part of my life, and like many music lovers, there are difficult times that I look back on and instantly remember the music that was in heavy rotation as I worked through those periods. I will forever associate Iron Maiden’s A Matter of Life And Death with the early months of this deployment. My lovely wife (bless her) sent it to me as soon as it was released, and it helped me suffer through the pangs of being apart from my family for the most that I’d ever been. Anthems like “These Colours Don’t Run” rang truer than I bet the boys in Maiden could have imagined. Obviously there is internet access available, and eventually I was able to use it to discover some great bands! One that stood out for me would have to be Therion, particularly their newest release Gothic Kabbalah, which I think is just an amazing musical accomplishment.
Q: How do troops get new music?
A: Usually through sharing CD’s or MP3’s. iPods are an absolute necessity out here, if you ask me! Otherwise I would have been coming out here with a CD player and countless CD’s. Sometimes the PX (Post Exchange) offers some decent music that’s worth hearing. As far as Metal, usually its accessible stuff like Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Cradle of Filth, Ozzy, etc. I was surprised to find Tim Owens’ band Beyond Fear’s album (one copy) there, as well as the Gigantour DVD. Some people order CD’s through websites like Amazon.com. And often times we receive packages from loved ones with requested items like CD’s and movies.
Q: Have you heard (latest awesome brand-spanking-new release by certain kick-ass band)?
A: It’s not easy to get the latest new releases, so chances are no, I haven’t gotten hold of it yet. If you want to hook me up, we can talk!
Keep the questions coming (firstname.lastname@example.org)! I enjoy enlightening others about Army life (as much as I can, anyway), and I love talking Metal. Almost as much as I do listening to it! I thank everyone again for their support. I’ve already got quiet a few free beer offers I’m going to have to take some people up on. That’s all this time around. I hope to be getting back to you very soon! Until then, take care and stay Metal!
If you have any questions for Alex, he will try to answer them in his weekly column here in Metal-Rules.com. Send an e-mail here.
Please Note: Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect that of the US Army, Metal-Rules.com, or anyone else.