Dark Phantom is a multi-ethnic band probably new to our ears, but they have been around for a while, playing the music they love in an oil-rich nation of turmoil and everlasting war, defying the reign of extremism and various death threats from Islamists who equate ‘metal’ with Satan worship.
Dark Phantom’s inception attempts started back in 2007. But with the hard situation especially within the areas controlled by Al-Qaeda, the situation was violent and playing music was a crime. The band then struggled to fit in, even in the Iraqi music scene. With all these efforts, they tried to keep the faith and compose their own music, but to no avail.
“This was for survival, without any developments in the level of art.” – Dark Phantom.
In 2009, the band took the bold decision and stood up in front of all disbelievers and started a serious project: DARK PHANTOM. They started composing and recording their own music. The quality of the recording wasn’t pleasant, so the band took it on themselves to learn and evolve their recording techniques. They upgraded their home studio with some proper software and hardware after a lot of research, until they got what they needed at the time.
The band’s first public show was in 2011, fighting against all atrocities, hate, anti-metal music laws, and terrorism. The band was surprised that people, fighters like them, showed up and gave them support they didn’t expect during the gig. Following that show in the city of Kirkuk, the band received several threats, and was asked to shut down all their activities.
Dark Phantom didn’t surrender to the situation and kept working on their album that was supposed to be called “Beta” at the time. The band’s reputation started to propagate, leading them to perform at 3 concerts in 3 different cities. Then in 2013, the Phantoms faced another challenge; the original vocalist and the drummer left the band for safety reasons, and the band then welcomed Mir and Mahmoud to replace their predecessors respectively. With that addition to the group, they defined their style as Thrash Metal and started the album composing and recording process all over again.
Today in 2016, Iraqi heroes “Dark Phantom” have completed and released their album under the name of “Nations Of Dogs” that will be soon reviewed in details by Metal Bell Magazine.
Meanwhile, we conducted an interview to know more about the brave phantoms of Kirkuk–Iraq.
- How and when did you guys start Dark Phantom?
After 2003, we started listening to metal music. Cousins Murad and Rebeen got together with a couple of friends from college and started the band, firstly playing thrash/death covers before beginning to write our own material. Murad met Sermet at college and he started learning bass, our old drummer on social media, and Ehsan at the music center as vocals.
- What does your music talk about and what does it mean to you?
Our lyrical theme is about war and corruption basically in our country Iraq. This chaotic situation naturally has a huge influence on our music. And it is about our life in Iraq, as well as religion/criminals who kill and slay people in the name of God.
- How do you define your sound?
We collected all that we like individually and came up with our sound and we call it Thrash-Death Metal as it’s like a mixture of both genres.
- Tell us more about the recording process of your album” Nation Of Dogs”.
We recorded the album in Murad’s bedroom using simple recording tools. It was released on May 8, 2016.
All songs lyrics by Mir Shamal
All songs music by Murad, Rebeen, Mir, Mahmood
Mixed and mastered by Mir Shamal
Album cover art by Ece Baş
- What was your first album on cassette, vinyl, and/or CD?
- What difficulties do you guys face living in such a tormented place?
Religious conservatism, social taboos, and repressive governments mean most metal is viewed with suspicion. Also, there are no metal venues.
- Who are your favorite artist and your influences?
Metallica is our idol. As for influences, we are greatly influenced by Slayer and Lamb Of God, etc.
- What are your plans for the future?
We have never played outside of Iraq, and that’s like a dream to us. We need a visa to travel or some sponsor. Just bring us to play even for free, because we don’t look for money, we just want to play on a big stage.
- Can you describe the Iraqi metal scene?
There was a small number of metal bands in Iraq and most of them left the country while others remain underground. Some people listen to metal and know what it is, but the majority see us as Satanic and don’t know what we are talking about.
- Do you easily get to find a venue to play metal?
We have played a few gigs though it’s very hard to do that here because there is no space to play music, but we still try and do our best.
- If you were to choose one record label to get signed with, who will it be?
Metal Blade Records, it’s one of our dreams.
- Where can we buy Dark Phantom’s “Nation Of Dogs” album from?
Bandcamp since we don’t have a label yet.
Read More by: Lilas Mayassi
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