This Godless Endeavor: Staying Metal In The War Zone (#3)

Spread the metal:

After the posting of 2 columns from Alex, we received a response from another metalhead in < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Iraq, Mustafa. The difference this time is that he’s not a soldier but a citizen living in Iraq! We asked Mustafa if we could post his message and asked if he’d like to add anything else…below are his words. We think it’s very cool to know that there are ‘brothers of metal’ even in Iraq so we’d like to give our readers the opportunity to hear what it is like to be a metalhead in this kind of a situation. It should put into perspective little things like being unable to find a certain CD or the release that costs a couple of bucks too much. Thank the metal gods we don’t all have to struggle though a situation like Mustafa finds himself in.

If you have any questions on the column, send them here.


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This is an answer from an Iraqi headbanger to those other headbangers who asked Alex about whether there are metalheads in Iraq; well there is; and I am one of them! By the word headbanger, I hope you don’t confuse this with people who listen to Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, Stained, System of a Down, or stuff like that, no; by the word metalhead, I mean listening to power metal, thrash metal , progressive metal, death metal , and even black metal. For myself, and most of others headbangers, we got into metal by listening to Metallica, Dio, Megadeth, Manowar, Savatage, Black Sabbath, Slayer, and others. Of course I don’t have to mention how hard it is to get albums here, because metal, like everywhere on this planet, is not popular music. In the late nineties, we got introduced to Euro power metal (Blind Guardian, Edguy, Helloween, Stratovarius, Brainstorm, Grave Digger, Rage, Rhapsody and others), American power metal (Metal Church, Iced Earth, Nevermore, etc…), Gothic metal (Tristania, Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Trail of Tears) and other kinds. It wasn’t until the last 5 years when we got access to the internet, we began to learn about great bands like Therion, Watchtower,  Anacrusis, Arch Enemy, Artillery, Borknagar, Carcass, Cirith Ungol, Coroner, Dark Tranquility, Edge of Sanity, Enslaved, and others.

There are others like me who crave metal and consider it an important thing to their lives. We used to have bands here, one of the better bands is Converse. We used to have live concerts. I have been to 5 concerts, in small clubs of course, nothing major, with a couple of hundred people, sometimes the number was over 1000. Sadly, Metal was affected like other life stations during the last war. Many of the metalheads were killed during the war, and the majority fled away seeking sanctuary in other countries. In addition to that, most of the music shops were shut down because they were afraid to get killed by extremists, or be kidnapped.

For myself I have more than 1000 albums of metal and I don’t listen to any other kind of music other than Metal, and I have many favorite bands. In addition to those mentioned above: Gamma Ray, Into Eternity, Voivod, Jag Panzer, Kreator, Destruction, Morgana Lefay, Mekong Delta, Opeth, Psychotic Waltz, Symphony X, Tad Morose, Vicious Rumors, Whiplash among many, many others.

So as you see, you lost the bet regarding if there were Iraqis listening to western music. You thought they would be listening to rap or hip hop…on the contrary, I bet you that the proportion of Iraqis listening to metal regarding to the whole population is bigger than Americans listening to metal. From what I see from MTV and VH1, the music scene in America is so sad. During the eighties pop music was much better than the stuff they show and play these days. Man, metalheads are rare to find  in the USA.

So I hope I clarified this point to the fellow brothers in metal asking about the metal scene in Iraq, Hail to All!

I would be glad if you post this in a column so that metalheads all over the world know that there are fellow metalheads in Iraq. No matter wherever you are or whatever your language is, metal connects people and eliminates all the silly differences between them. I mean that is the beautiful thing in metal, it expands and enlightens your mind to rise above the shallowness and narrowness of most minds.

First I would like to say that my first name is Mustafa  (Ahmed is a nickname my family like to use sometimes); my friends call me Mustafametal or M (for Metal).

I have to say that I am a big fan of you and your great metal site (it is my number 1 metal site). I listen to every genre in metal but my favorites are: Power; Thrash, Traditional, Progressive, and Melodic Death. I was first introduced to metal in 1998; when a friend of mine gave me a collection he had made which includes:

Sad But True [Metallica]
One Child [Savatage]
Hail and Kill [Manowar]
Don’t Talk To Strangers [Dio]
Number of the Beast [Iron Maiden]
You Don’t Remember [Malmsteen]
Pull Me Under [Dream Theater]
Symphony of Destruction [Megadeth]
Heaven and Hell [Black Sabbath]
Silent Lucidity [Queensryche]
Seasons in the Abyss [Slayer]
…and other classic tunes.

I still have that cassette now. Before that, in high school, I used to listen to Scorpions, Queen, Europe, Bon Jovi, Guns n’ Roses, Alice Cooper, and Pink Floyd. Thank GOD I have never listened nor I have liked Pop or Rap (except in my teens; I used to listen to   Michael Jackson). I got hooked by those magnificent tunes, and I wanted to listen to more of this powerful music. My first album I ever listened to was Holy Diver. Man, I was amazed by that album! Ronnie’s voice was purely heaven. I have never listened to a pure and powerful voice like that before. In addition to the great guitar work of Vivian Campbell, every song on that album is a gem with the lyrics in particular hitting a certain chord in me during a stage in my life I was passing through at that time. Next I bought Gutter Ballet (Savatage). When I listened to Jon’s vocals, and Criss’ guitar work, the metal virus infected me and I was addicted to Heavy Metal forever. I can’t survive a day now without my metal fix.

Then I listened to other accessible metal albums recommended by senior headbangers -Countdown to Extinction; The Black Album; all Savatage collection; Number of the Beast; Legacy of Kings; Symphony of the Enchanted Lands; and others. The more I listened the more I learned to appreciate and love Metal, then I was introduced to more extreme forms of metal like Thrash and Death (Symbolic was the album that introduced me to that genre).

Metal  became part of my personality and it made me evolve mentally and emotionally. It changed my view to a lot of things. I mean, it may sounds corny; but metal became a style of life to me and to a lot of headbangers here in Iraq, and for that I will be forever grateful.

We used to hang out together discussing new bands and new styles that we discovered every now and then. When we were going out in one of our friends car; we played metal tunes in the car’s stereo as loud as we can and headbanged our heads till we got whiplashed. People used to look at us sometimes with a strange look on their faces and I bet they thought that we were crazy; but we knew who the crazy was.

We never had a metal station nor TV shows about metal. metal spread by word of mouth. Guys who were into metal gave accessible metal tunes to their friends who are “Metal Virgins” and are susceptible to be metalheads (because as you know not everyone can be a metalhead; you must have predilection to be a metalhead); and so on. A decent metal community grew in Iraq, and even Metal bands began to form and play.

One of my dreams is to attend a metal concert for a band I like. I swear man, I would have a heart attack and die if I attended a concert for a band I like…like Gamma Ray or Nevermore or other bands I love.

After the war it all changed. As I told you before, most of my fellow headbangers either got killed or fled away. For the remainder of us, it became hard to get together and talk about and listen to metal anymore. But nevertheless, metal remains an important thing in my life to overcome the difficult situation we live through in Iraq these days. It helps to forget the devastating reality a while, and to live in a world of magic and power, a world of crushing metal tunes.

Finally a big thanks to The Chief Editor (EvilG) of Metal-Rules and all the staff for giving me the opportunity to speak out my mind and inform the Brothers of Metal around the world that there are fellow headbangers in Iraq and they are not different from them. We all share a love and dedication to Heavy Metal, and for that reason alone, Metal Will Never Die! It will remain a powerful music connecting and uniting headbangers from all over the world.

I like many bands but my Top 10 Bands are:
Savatage (My all time favorite band)
Death (Chuck Is My Favorite Guitar Hero)
Symphony X
Gamma Ray
Rhapsody (not Rhapsody of Fire)
Metal Church
Iced Earth
Angel Dust
Other bands I like: Old Metallica (up to And Justice for all), Old Seputura (Beneath the Remains and Arise era), Megadeth, Steel Prophet, Old Slayer (up to Seasons in the Abyss, Blind Guardian, Rage, Kreator, Quo Vadis, Paradox, Morgana Lefay, Old Manowar (up to Triumph of Steel), Jag Panzer, Iron Savior, Into Eternity , HammerFall, Exodus, Edge of Sanity, Voivod, Dio, Dark Tranquility, Coroner, Carcass, Brainstorm, Annihilator, and Artillery among many others.
My Top 25 albums are (not in order):
Symphony of the Enchanted land (Rhapsody)
Alice in Hell (Annihilator)
Imaginations from the other side (Blind Guardian)
Streets (Savatage)
Master of Puppets (Metallica)
Symbolic (Death)
The Gallery (Dark Tranquility)
Crimson (Edge of Sanity)
Keeper of the Seven Keys II (Helloween)
Something Wicked this way Comes (Iced Earth)
Pleasure to Kill (Kreator)
Sign of the Hammer (Manowar)
Rust in Peace (Megadeth)
Metal Church (The Dark)
Dreaming Neon Black (Nevermore)
Horrorscope (Overkill)
A Social Grace (Psychotic Waltz)
Operation: Mindcrime (Queensryche)
Defiant Imagination (Quo Vadis)
Secrets in a Weird world (Rage)
Beneath The Remains (Sepultura)
Reign In Blood (Slayer)
Dark hallucinations (Steel Prophet)
Divine Wings of Tragedy (Symphony X)
Nothingface (Voivod)

Among many many other classic albums.


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