2010 – Book The First

Heavy Metal In Baghdad by Andy Capper and Gabi Sifre

The companion book to the excellent documentary of the same name which I watched on the plane from Australia, this is the story of the Iraq’s only heavy metal band and their struggles to exist first under Saddam’s regime – where Western influences were so behind the times that self-acknowledged metal-heads covered Backstreet Boys songs because that was the only American music they knew existed – then during the US invasion – where getting shot or blown-up was a daily possibility – through to the post-invasion Iraq where the anti-American backlash saw them getting death threats because their goatees and band t-shirts were seen as Westernised.

This book consists entirely of transcribed interviews with people who, by their own admission, learned English from heavy metal videos so there are very few poetic turns-of-phrase; but there is a sincerity that comes through these stories. A picture is painted by the words of the four who lived this story of young men who, like all people their age, are naive and brash, but also beaten down to the point of nihilism by their circumstances.

I heartily recommend that you watch the documentary, and also that you read the book, which goes further into detailing what happens after the close of the film, covering their campaign to emigrate to America as refugees.

By way of a few extras, here is the band’s first single, Garden of Stones, from their upcoming EP Only The Dead See The End of War, to be released early this year; and here is the band meeting James Hetfield of Metallica in one of the sweetest fanboy moments ever caught on film.

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