Here’s another update from Mustafa, a metalhead in < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />
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I must tell you that I am thrilled and grateful the chance to express my thoughts and point of view by publishing my article through your esteemed Web Magazine.
Also, I want to say I am sorry that I haven’t written to you earlier although I was eager to do so; but one of my best friends was kidnapped and killed. It was a hard time for me. Most of my friends, including me, have left their jobs (thousands of doctors are getting killed regularly), and they are trying to immigrate or get a job abroad because it’s getting really hard to survive here. Although it is difficult, I am studying and working hard to get scholarships or a job as a doctor in Canada because it is a great country for once and a respected Metal Scene exists there (Voivod, Annihilator, Anvil, Into Eternity are some of the greatest bands ever). In addition to that it is the home of the great EvilG and (some of the) Metal-Rules staff; the greatest Metal website I have ever visited. So who knows, if I wish and work hard enough my dream may become a reality. As Aerosmith says “Dream on”.
What follows are answers of some thoughts that may exist inside the overseas headbanger’s mind….
Megadeth’s latest album: I think it is simply their best since COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION, the same thing can be said about Annihilator’s latest although all of their albums are of good quality. I think that METAL is their best since NEVER, NEVERLAND (apart from CRITERIA FOR A BLACK WIDOW). This has been a great year for metal so far, lets hope it will continue this way.
Regarding the bands that used to play here in IRAQ – the most famous one of all was called Scarecrow. They formed during the early nineties and continued till the late nineties when the band members either left the country or quit to focus on other jobs. They have recorded one album independently. Sadly I wasn’t into metal when they were playing live to see them. Reportedly they played their own songs with a style reminiscent of Rainbow (Hard Rock with a Heavy Metal edge). Their album was recorded on cassette, a friend of mine loaned it to me few years ago to listen to it. It was quite a good album with great guitar work and soloing. Sadly the album is not available with me but I hope someday it will surface and you will have the chance to listen to it. As you probably know, there were no facilities in our country for a band to record a proper album and market it. The record companies here were only promoting Arabic singers and they made a lot of money because of that. As I was told by my fellow senior headbangers, some of the band members used to have long hair and they had rode motorcycles – cool huh!
Other bands that existed during my metal years was Converse. Man were they good, they had a great guitarist and a great vocalist. They used to cover other bands (mostly Deep Purple, Dio, Malmsteen, Rainbow, Scorpions, Kansas, and other 70’s/80’s Rock/Metal bands). They had a couple of songs of their own too. I have attended a couple of their concerts and man the guitar player was a great soloist! He really had great potential! Sadly they didn’t record an album as far as I know. Hopefully they are still playing metal wherever they are now. As for the other band I have seen and attended concerts for them. They were at the other end of the spectrum – meaning they played Death Metal. Yes, we have had a death metal band in Iraq! The tragic thing about it is I don’t remember their name. They had a very long and an unusual name. I have been told it means “slow painful death”. They were pretty good for their young age and humble equipments, but man the drummer of that band was a gem. He really was into Death Metal drumming. I wasn’t familiar with death metal much when I attended their concerts but I have been told at that time that played their own songs with a couple of cover songs, and they played the style impressively as I said before….Damn it what was that name??????
There were other local bands struggling for a place to rehearse but it was difficult at the time as the neighbors would immediately complain as soon as they hear something like the “Sad But True” riff (mostly bands here were influenced by Metallica). My friends were in one of those bands (the guitarist is one of my best friends named Saif Speeedo; he was the one who introduced me to metal). But as I said, bands here sadly never got the chance to record a proper album. Some of them really had talent if they had a proper label company and a proper producer to make something good and competent.
Now of course the war has laden its shadows on metal as on every other thing in life. Guys who used to live for metal cant get together and play, because first there are no safe places to meet at and second most of the “still alive” guys have left the country or they sit at their homes and don’t go out much. Third, there is neither the energy nor the peace of mind to practice your hobbies or the things you love. Hopefully this dark cloud will clear someday and all the people can live in peace again and headbangers like me and others be able to see their Idols play live for once at least in our lives.
In our community we didn’t have the same attitude towards metal that was-say in the USA during the eighties because simply people didn’t know what metal was to fight it and ban it. To those who had the pleasure to hear it; it was a bunch of incoherent noise that drove them crazy and young people who listened to it were insane. Those who had the privilege to see the look of some bands, they would say that they are a bunch of junkies, insane, girls look alike freaks….while in reality they are missing the fact that they are looking at master musicians at the peak of their creative genius; shredding and pounding incredible sounds shaking every nerve of our craving souls and bodies for such enlightening music! Thankfully my parents were very understanding. They never understood it but I was free to listen to it as loud as I want (well not really as I want; but it was loud enough). Sadly currently my wife is not open minded as my parents. She gets crazy from its sound so I have to use the headphones when I listen to the Metal nowadays…I know shame on me.
In the USA, from what I watch on TV, it got really nasty during the eighties when they had programs to “Demetalize” young people. Can you believe the puritanical tendencies of some people? Man they should have programs to “Metalize” people, because Metal is the best thing in life that could happen to anyone and it is here to stay forever!
Hell man, such acts make me love metal more and more. It is truly spirit lifting to see that the thing you love and believe in is limited to certain kind of people, and that most people don’t understand it (people fear what they don’t understand) so they try to kill it and burry it. However by doing that they are deepening our love and beliefs in metal. To become more than just music, but truly a way of life and an indispensable part of or lives. Metal will never ever die as long as there are Metalheads buying records and attending concerts and believe in it (Raise The Fist Of The Metal Child).
Another thing I would like to add about metalheads in Iraq – The vast majority of them are from the middle social class (the middle middle or lower middle class in particular). Very rarely high social class listen to metal (they listen to Arabic songs; or rap or pop for that matter). I guess the rebellious nature of metal in expressing anger and frustration from the difficulties in life has a hand in it. Also Headbangers here are from all the ages (although most of them are above 20) and from different jobs and degrees with a common thing that combines us (the Flag Of Metal). I am for once; a doctor(MD); three of my fellow headbangers are graduates from the college of Fine Arts; a couple of my other friends are Computer engineers; another couple are doctors, also two of my friends are highschool graduates. So really there is no definite criteria that defines you to be a metalhead.
Females on the other hand don’t usually listen to metal in Iraq. Sadly its too much for them and they listen to soft music instead…or sometimes they pretend to listen to metal if they want to impress guys who were into metal. But they fail tragically at that because they consider Avril Lavigne to be metal!!!!!!!!!
Nowadays we have only 2 records shops open in Baghdad that sell Metal. So mostly I get my Metal Shots from them; other resources include buying MP3s from the net or downloading the rare Ones from Sharing Sites if possible. Sadly I can not order albums online. There is no online ordering of albums to Iraq. It was easier before the war to buy records from many available music shops, but now its getting harder and harder (and more expensive to get an album if you want it to be shipped from neighboring countries). I try my best and spend as much money as I can to stay metal, even in the darkest hours (You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll; it is more important to me than the greatest meal or the fanciest of clothes money can buy), although much lesser than before. But still there is a metal base in Iraq and there are guys like me and others who keep on searching for and buying metal albums as well as DVDs (the latest DVDs I got were Hell on Earth part III and Live Kreation). Having a large Metal Collection is my Number 1 Priority in life.
Most of my friends don’t have a contact with the American soldiers, but I have talked with an Iraqi Metalhead who worked as a translator with the American troops once. He said that some of the Soldiers liked metal; but they only knew Metallica, System of a Down, Ozzy. They Didn’t know any European bands or even the great Savatage (being one of the greatest American bands themselves). But that’s only one guy’s story according to his contacts. I don’t know for the rest, but I doubt that there are many Americans who like True Metal, because as we all know true metal popularity is low in North America, but of course it is there and it will never die. Nevertheless it deserves a lot more from a country that gave birth for the many classic metal bands during the glory days of 80’s metal.
Finally I would like to thank Metal-Rules staff (and Mr. EvilG at the head of the list) for giving me a second chance to say few words about the metal scene in Iraq….how it was. and how it is now. I would also like to thank all the brothers in metal who gave few minutes of their time for reading this – I hope I have clarified few things that an overseas metal head has in his mind regarding weather there were guys in Iraq who listen to metal. Yes there are; and there always will be!