Murad Khalid is a metalhead.
He’s also a Turkmen, an Iraqi and an electrician. But those things are less important to him than fronting DARK PHANTOM, Kirkuk’s premier – read: only – death metal band.
It’s Friday morning and he’s in his bedroom at his mother’s house, playing guitar and smoking cigarettes. The droning sermon from the nearby mosque barely penetrates the room. Inside, it’s a temple to metal. Pages torn from foreign metal magazines paper the panelling – Manowar, Metallica, Megadeth. A skull-shaped ashtray holds a collection of guitar picks. Dark Phantom was recently kicked out of their practice space, so the room is also filled with a drum kit, guitars and amps.
Mahmoud Qasim is on the carpet fixing his snare drum, guitarist Rebeen Hasem is jamming and Sarmad Jalal t...