In a shocking turn to his fans, Iraqi Konfused Kid, formerly known as Iraqi Konfused Kollege Kid a.k.a The Kid Himself decided to officially declare the end of almost six years of bone-crunching, fist-pumping, devilless-worshipping devotion to heavy metal.
It has been six years since that fateful day when The Kid, at that time a lonely, reserved misfit whose existence was largely supported by video games and Eminem, heard that ominous call, there was no magnificence in that moment, it was actually a boring evening and The Kid was flat on his ass checking out the new cassette he recorded at the nearby Radio1 shop, but at that moment when "No Leaf Clover" came bursting out the seams of his cheap Chinese player, that he felt like an ancient prophet in a cave.
After that, The Kid's mindset was completely captivated by the magnificence, power and intelligence this form of music can evoke in one's being ; little did he know it, but at that period of his life, he actually worshiped Heavy Metal, and NOT in a metaphorical sense of the word, all his existence was more or less devoted to that obsession, he saw in those drug-addicted, half-naked school dropouts the pinnacle of human evolution and development ; often did he sit late at night, pondering like a historian over manuscripts at their lyrics, carefully trying to "understand" the concise interpretation of this lyric and that, the epic, dark compositions uplifted his spirit and gave him meaning. In fact, unconsciously he believed that the juxtaposition of music and words in such a fashion unlocked a dangerous magic of its own that can only be felt and understood by those devoted followers, from this logic, he considered those rare specimen who agreed with his ways, whom he met during high school as especially enlightened human beings, who had managed to see beyond the usual range of short-sighted men, those men would simply label these highly powerful creations as 'a garbled mess that has nothing to do with music', The Kid knew of those people deviated ways for he had lived upon them for 17 long years, reveling in disgust at their stupidity and 'uneducated animality', he had seen their corrupt, idiotic music about love and butterflies, formless and odorless, and yet another facet of their inferiority, he loathed their attraction to the simple and benign and treasured the complex essence of the truth he had harnessed and uncovered in those magnificent manifestations of the divine. Often did he and his compatriots talk about forming circles to practice the faith, but he was often disappointed in his colleagues, for sometimes he thought that except for their admiration for this music, they were still the savage inferior beasts he saw everywhere, and that they did not hold the key of the knowledge of this great realm like he did. Undeterred, he silently upheld his new faith and tried secretly to flourish within the confines of his society. He had no money to buy a holy instrument, so he secretly practiced his faith passively behind locked doors, he loathed headbanging, which he considered to be an extremist invention that had harmed the faith more than it benefited it and led many common people to shy away from it in disgust, instead, he preferred to air-guitar his emotions while making performer poses and creepy faces, often fantasizing himself to be in the center of whatever social unit he was part of at the time, Singing 'The Wait' in his schoolyard, or fingerpicking 'The Call of Ktulu' in the living room, in those fits of fantasy, students of the school would gaze in awe, and his family would water their eyes, everyone would bow to his greatness and testify to his superiority. He would then sleep comfortably while analyzing the subliminal intentions of the complex faux-pop songs of Soundgarden, before waking up to another tasteless school day where he served as a nondescript entity in a world he felt he did not belong to.
From his youth, The Holy Kid had perceived hints of what was to come, at six years old, when The Kid was still held by his family to be some sort of tortured genius, when he could have told you the capital of any country and the number of days it took Hitler to invade any European country one by one, The Kid has often wondered, for no reason at all, if his playmates were some sort of robots, who were programmed to think and feel in the same predictable emotions, the faith of Heavy Metal came to confirm those theories about the inherent stupidity of those people, and increase his longing for a holy hijra to the promised lands he often saw in television screens.
Years passed and The Kid graduated, having devolved from a child prodigy into a plain and unremarkable dude, more plagued by his supposedly miscast nature than anything else, he joined college, determined to convert as many as he possibly could, into his new philosophy, he had crystallized his teachings in a simple leaflet, and he termed it 'F.T.W.", his determination paid through somewhat, for after years living as a misfit, he seems to have picked up, quite inadvertently, something of human social conduct, and for perhaps the first time in his life since his teenage depression, The Kid found himself to be truthfully enjoying his presence among the ignorant population of his perimeters. He had gained a few converts on the path of truth, and believing his happiness to be stemming from that blessed foundation, he continued in that path unabashed. Yet still, in that warped form of thinking, The Kid was still believing on some level that there are better, more 'educated' human beings out there and he often longed to meet them.
However, by 2006, the actual spell-binding aura which had protected him all these years had slowly faded away, the holy incantations did not move him like they once did, but he relentlessly listened to them in an attempt to bolster his faith, believing this to be a minor lapse, shaking away whatever childish demons that tried to manipulate him, unfortunately, it felt today like a regular routine with no emotions, he now had the means to procure a holy instrument, and be bought three of the blessed tools, thinking that the time had finally come to spread the doctrines into the unsuspecting hordes, to rescue them from the vile clutches of the satanic devils of Arabic pop music.
Laugh not, for The Kid genuinely believed this crap as intensely as it is shed here, he just did not know how religiously he believed in it. It was his driving passion, during boring lectures, he was found of creating setlists for imaginary live shows, he was forever obsessed with the correct order of songs in order to persuade the heathens into the true word of the divine.
But as 2006 drove on, more and more did The Kid find himself more suffocated than liberated by his faith, the search for new items always proved disappointing, both the new and old music he tried to explore he found to be rather lame attempts to sound glorious and evil, most of the bands only had a handful of good songs, barely fitting an album, and by now it had become something of a joke, a ritualistic practice that regulated one's conformity to nonconformity without any true quality of its own, like a failed Pan-Arab revolution ; you like this? then YOU MUST like this, or else you suck! Unfortunately, The Kid cannot pin down an exact moment when he said: "That's it, this is just too ridiculous! But it can be narrowed down to the following moments: The moment when his fellow friend snatched The Kid's holy instrument and played an Arabic medley of the sort The Kid looks upon with aristocratic disfavor, but to his own amazement, it appeared to him for the first time to have a magical shape of melody and it took him to those faraway mental escapes....maybe it was the fact that The Kid couldn't play shit at that time, anyway, this small bit took The Kid into a re-examining of traditional Iraqi songs, apparently an easy way to get people's attention instead of numbing their heads with chugga-chugga, this little oriental piece proved to be quite a decisive Trojan horse later.
But most importantly of all, it was The Kid's first foray at playing with dedicated musicians, there were two of them, the bassist was a weird, but overall okay person. but the lead guitarist, Teez (his real name), was another story. Teez was supposedly Iraq's self-proclaimed 2nd greatest guitarist of all-time (the first being Saad Zai), Teez was like The Kid's musical aspiration taken to extremes, a very idiosyncratic, egotistical person who apparently sucked at everything but playing guitar, and because of this very perceived insecurity, Teez used to insult and mock everyone whenever he could in order to be assured of his prowess. Teez was especially unbearable, and The Kid, now less unsocial and with friends and some girl to talk to late at night, found him to be rather a chore and a model of a human being he was afraid he would become. He loathed Teez, and with this realization, he loathed even more the archetype of the Iraqi 'mattalla' community and its trappings. Another practitioner of the faith, a girl who was even more devoted than himself and into black metal, which we could call 'Sufi Metal' shit, actually got married to another heavy metaller just because he was into the same shit more or less, having been a witness of the hollowness of those petty lives ; it was then that The Kid realized that those 'uber-human' people he dreamed about were nothing but imaginary, like the myth of the Mahdi, and that everybody is more or less quite ordinary ; if anything, those misfits he was one of were as remote as anyone from attaining a higher experience of life, it was more like an amateur venting of frustration that eased itself out through music instead of the way Osama bin Laden or the Virginia Tech killer would do it. If anything, those idiotic animals we held in contempt were having a richer, more realistic life than this denial.
With the death of his friends, and his growing interest in politics and religion, The Kid began to read less English and more Arabic, amazingly, the Arabic culture DID turn out to be capable of producing the intelligence, wit and imagination that he so respected and thought unique of Western culture, this reflected on everything of the Kid's behavior, he stopped wearing stupid rock/tanta clothes, began reading Arabic poetry and history, and music-wise, he is now dancing to the same music he found years before to be tasteless and inane, as a matter of fact, whenever an English-speaking song comes about on his play list, he immediately skips it, mentally commenting on its inability to possess the soulful, melismatic qualities of Eastern music. Sighing at the thought of all those leather-pant-dreaming western-wannabes who think they know something.
The moral of this story is that everything taken to extremes is bad, yes you might like something passionately and that's cool, but don't read too far into it, as it puts you in a warped plane of reality that is more often not really the be-all end-all you think it is, Here I only liked loud dark music, which doesn't hurt anyone necessarily, but still, thank God it wasn't something like religion or race.
To give you an example of how my life depended on Rock, here is a piece I wrote in my wee-years in 2002, about the song which I still consider the song that affected me most in all my lifetime, No Leaf Clover, compare it to this article I recently discovered which looks with the same academic analysis and fascination at an Arabic song, apparently, there are maniacs found for almost everything! The idea I'm trying to say here is that Your God can be found in everything, and one should really respect other people's beliefs no matter how inferior they sound to you, for you could end up liking them one day, and if you asked me right now, I'd say that this woman is the greatest singer in the world.
NO LEAF CLOVER, Metallica.
Written by James Hetfield/Lars Ulrich
Reviewed by The Kid in 2001-2002
NOTE: You might not understand a lot without listening to the song (YouTube link to the left) first.
This is probably the foremost fusion of words and music I have ever heard in my whole short life. Never has a song offered such power, emotion, and atmosphere as this one. While lyrically the composition is vague and daunting, with such everyday indistinguishable words, the mirroring of their ideas into the music is what makes Clover totally mind-blowing, the song was performed only once in 1999 in a live show with a SYMPHONY, Metallica wanted to demonstrate that their music owe a lot to orchestrated detail and this one is the prime example of their complex emotional treatment. The song is intended as mourning for the death of a wild, careless human. After a good intro from the symphony that introduces the main riff, the song really starts by James playing a creepy arpeggio figure played on a clean electric guitar, while the symphony coats him with a vivid, Swan Lake-like impression, which puts across a very serene, angelic, and mysterious atmosphere. In what is one of scariest sudden-shock experiences the whole environment is turned upside down by a thundering electric guitar with only a split second of transition between it and the previous calamity, ensuring a devastating back-to-life effect that is both cynical and crushing. In the same moment, rumbling Tambourines underscores the effect, to create a march that eventually reaches conclusion with a loud snare/cymbal crack from Lars Ulrich's drums, the last note is made even more haunting by a short epic horn play, it gives the impression of a vicious resurrection of a sudden mystic power, like the visceral awakening of a slumbering, long-forgotten evil. All this happens in only three seconds, which shows the depth and the understanding of Michael Kamen (the symphony conductor), immediately after this short 'transition' the music ferociously recite the verse riff (NOT the main riff), a heavy riff with a sort of a military seriousness to it, after a full bar James Hetfield comes on the vocal, in a melody that is both wailing and sadly mourning, the sort of reaction you'd expect from a mother who's throwing fits over the dead son, he sings in high-pitched, multi-layered shots : 'And it feels right this time'. The first verse mainly resembles the youth's life, with the loud, dense collaboration of rock and classical furiously ensuing the heating, blazing atmosphere of a wild life revisited in retrospective. The mourner then proceeds to shout some of life's best virtues, in cynical, agonized bites laid together in an abrasive, animal satisfaction and simplicity 'and it feels right this time/ on this crash course feel the big time! /pay no mind to the distant thunder/beauty fills his head with wonder, boy' stating the viewpoint of that said careless individual. When he reaches the verse's end 'Good day to be alive he says' he increases his intensity on the last syllable of 'says' while the symphony proceeds to lift up, then the vocal echoes to create a sort of a dissolving effect as the guitars slow down, the spirit of life is suddenly faltered, and vanishes in a puff of smoke, out of which silently the haunting guitar line of the introduction is reintroduced while James Hetfield leaks the sadness he's conjured in a low-pitch mumble, you could actually see how wild life decomposed into the nothingness implied by this chorus, which is even made more touching by the line : 'Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel / was just a freight train coming your way' It means that the distant, unclear thing up ahead of your life which you have not paid much attention to is basically the much-dreaded end, coming towards you in immeasurable speed, at the same time James pulls out an evocative vocal delay on 'way' the symphony menacingly rises up again, and a soft, assured kick drum then proclaims the impact moment, it's as if this slow moving, giant and inevitable slab of fate hits yet another piece of clay on its never-ending travel, easily plucking it away from the frail roots it had fermented earth with. James repeats the chorus line with percussion and a more refined angelic surrounding, with Jason Newsted's bass remorsefully throbbing a few reflective notes before the whole set is pulled back to the pit again, this time the lyrics deal with outcome of the man's mindless life and where it had led him: 'Does it feel right like this?/ All the pieces fall to his wish!' the 'his' in here is either a tribute to God, meaning that eventually everything happens according to God's will, or the other way around, stating that Devil finally got you and all the things he fed you with finally worked, probably the latter is more accurate as in the next line he blames the deceased for his easy trickery into life's 'quick reward', which, however, could imply God's reproach or devil's denial. After another repetition of the chorus, James struts a bit on the warning line 'It's coming your way', all this, however diminishes when compared with the song's bloody climax: After having Kirk Hammett (lead guitarist) play the silent intro guitar distorted –which creates a sort of a bottled suffering, with James's guitar behind descending into minor keys- the song then reaches the final point, undeniably the best part of the whole song, while at the surface the tension is mercilessly released with an out-of-control Hetfield frantically screaming the chorus line in paint-peeling high-pitch saturated with high voltage energy that would put any nearby Celine to shame while his guitar textures paint a chaotic mood underneath his bellows, the actual undertones is very much in precise control, the symphony tackles the dramatic apocalypse with a few violin notes, which paves the way for Kirk to repeat his distorted intro trick, it achieves the sort of fulfillment the song needs. After this heartfelt outpouring of the chorus, the set repeats the principal riff, and ends on a rising violin note underscored by grumbling tambourines. A sad lament to a deceased individual, and a big warning sign to everyone who is willing to listen. I still remember how it threw me upside down; I never knew anything about music other than it's just a way of spending just a fun time. This one literally blew me away (I kid you not, the actual analysis of this classic took me about six months, before that, I just listened, but I never expected the impression to be so awesome, I was too lowbrow to express my feelings anyway) and eventually it changed my whole outlook on music as not just a tool for having fun, all the silly, kitschy pop music seemed absurd and meaningless, it frightened me that a band with such depth, detail and intelligence actually exists, and if only a tenth of music was as good! It also harbored an as-yet-unexplored interest in classical music, often touted as the highest form of music. It taught me to carefully examine artistic works: books, photos, pictures, songs. Everything had whole new dimensions upon closer inspection. Consequently I found out that this line of thought has even influenced my usual real life relationships and social judgment of persons. Given the song's genuine impressions, it's hard to believe that it is also one of Metallica's most accessible works, while most Metallica classics would take a dozen listens to comfortably sit within the mind, this one could be absorbed in just a few listens, with little details slowly cropping up with each listen, ensuring the song's long lifetime. No Leaf Clover's most noticeable trait is contrast. The contrasting themes between harsh life and silencing death are so strongly realized on all aspects of the song: the music is hard rock on the verses, disproved by the symphonic laid together focal chorus; the vocal is an agonized, mindless simulation of ecstasy done in screeching high-pitch at verses, while at the chorus it's so solemn, peaceful and low-pitch it's hard to believe they came from the same vocalist, this theme is even engrossed in the lyrical context: from the barks of an underdog to the metaphors of a philosopher, even the title -'No Leaf Clover' is the diagonal opposite of a four leaf clover, a luck sign- is a contrast in itself.Several other theories have been discussed as of the actual meaning behind the song (the band rarely gives out interpretations of their songs) including a war theme (Metallica has often written anti-war songs, particularly in the 80s) and just plain, indefinite bad luck, but the song's epic, larger-than-life atmosphere and high musical vocabulary allows no compromises; it deals with the highest form of the old good-and-bad conflict, the most important of humanity's struggles.