Ten years ago, the paperback edition of Sound of the Beast emerged with a special section on metal in the Muslim world. Since that time, circumstances have degraded, to say the least. From Morocco to Afghanistan, headbangers persevere against difficulties ranging from jail time to threat of death. Most histories of metal bands from this region end up with the members fleeing to Europe or the United States.
The latest issue of Huck Magazine profiles Dark Phantom, a polished Kirkuk, Iraq-based melodic death metal band whose entire existence mirrors the recent history of Middle Eastern turmoil. Inspired by metal CDs passed on from the American military in 2003, the band was formed in 2007, just as countrymen Acrassicauda were about to exit Iraq following their highly publicized Vice documentary. Dark Phantom performed live for the first time in 2011, a transformative experience that galvanized their calling to metal, but made human targets out of the musicians. Now in its tenth year as a band, Dark Phantom continues to rehearse incognito and basically worship metal underground like a bunch of members of a condemned religious sect.