Most people consider Death / Black Metal to be ugly and reprehensible.
One of the reasons being that this music deals with topics that “strike” social, religious and political issues.
Especially in a conservative and religious society, such as Iraq, the existence of this music scene is not the easiest thing.
For some, however, Iraqis, this music is a perfect way out for their generation.
Screaming against the social constraints and incessant injustices that have been happening in their country in recent decades, through Metal.
A band from Kirkuk, Iraq, the Dark Phantom released a video in March showing just that.
“State of War” is a video showing images of the multi-month wave of protests, in which young people throw Molotov cocktails and tear gas.
Singer and bassist Mir Shamal Hama-Faraj (known as “Mir”) sings the lyrics:
Brothers slaying brothers
In this state of war
Father blaming fathers
In this state of war
The song first appeared on “Nation of Dogs“, their only full-length album, which was released in May 2016.
“Video recording was very difficult for us,” says guitarist Murad Yaymz, speaking on the day the video was released, adding, “We didn’t have a good camera or directors, we did everything ourselves.”
“When we called the photographers in Baghdad for footage, no-one [on Facebook] could send or answer, because they were scared. But we did our best…
When you see the album art, you will see we are anti-corruption, anti-bad governance, and we are anti-religious corruption,” Yaymz explains. “We are not attacking religions [but the use of religion], they let people kill each other.”
Metal within chaos
Iraq has been embroiled in a series of clashes since 2003 when US troops invaded.
Civil war, a rising of the Islamic group, suicide bombings, kidnappings, killings and street militarization.
All of this leads the ordinary daily life in Iraq, along with the rise of religious groups and militias that impose conservative social tendencies.
In all these situations, the development of metal has never been an easy task.
Especially in Kirkuk, which suffers from intense tensions between Turkmens *, Arabs and Kurds and is permanently a disputed city.
The line-up of the Dark Phantom reflects just that.
Singer Mir is Kurdish, drummer Mahmood Qasim is Arab, bassist Sermet Jalal, Murad Yaymz and second guitarist Rebeen Hashim are Turkmens.
“You know there’s tension between us, but we feel like brothers, and we don’t care,” Murad says. “In the studio, we speak in a different language every minute.”
Another resonant proof that music has the ability to unite, beyond social, political, and / or religiously establishment.
Dark Phantom first appeared in 2009 in Kirkuk.
Their goal was to approach Western music and to relay to the whole world the bad conditions that Iraq is experiencing.
Things did not turn out as they had hoped, due to the ongoing war in Iraq, so they remained stagnant for a long time in order to remain safe.
Although they have received criticism by both the metal world and their environment, they continue to create music, albeit with minimal resources.
Besides, music has no limits and obstacles …