Iraq: Film about exiled heavy metal band Acrassicauda
The documentary film ‘Heavy Metal in Baghdad’ documents how Iraq’s only heavy metal band, Acrassicauda, had to escape the country and is now literally a band on the run
The band Acrassicauda was formed in Baghdad in 2001. As the war in Baghdad worsened they began receiving death threats from insurgent groups and religious fundamentalists accusing them of Satan-worship. Eventually, it proved impossible for them to find any venue that was safe to perform in Iraq.
Acrassicauda – as they appear in the documentary film
Thanks to generous donations made on their behalf, the band now resides in Instanbul, Turkey, after first living a year as refugees in Damascus, Syria. As indicated by one of their weblog-headlines, saying: ‘Broke and lost in Turkey’, their exile in Turkey has so far turned out as a difficult challenge for the five heavy rock musicians.
In their seven years as a band they have managed to play only six live concerts in Baghdad, two in Syria and one in Turkey.
Canadian film producers In 2004, after the US had toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the American Vice Magazine published an article about Acrassicauda. The interview inspired the Canadian film directors Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi to make a feature film documentary about this up-and-coming Iraqi heavy metal band.
But by the time they made it to Baghdad, only two of the band’s original five members were still in Iraq: The bass player Firas and guitarist Faisal. One had left for Canada and two others for Syria.
Their film, ‘Heavy Metal in Baghdad’, had its premier in September 2007 at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada.
About the band members Acrassicauda (latin for “Black Scorpion”) was born out of a basement rehearsal space in Baghdad, and began with the high school friendship of four young men. Tutored by music instructor and guitar virtuoso Saad “Yngwie” Say and inspired by Western bands like Metallica, Slayer and Slipknot, they began writing and playing metal in 2001.
Original members Firas (bass), Tony (lead guitar), Marwan (drums), Faisal (rhythm guitar) and Waleed (lead vocals) were only able to play three shows before the war in Iraq started in 2003. Soon after, Waleed retired from the band and fled the country, leaving Faisal to fill the void of lead singer. Due to increased security precautions throughout Iraq, it became difficult to practice or even get through a show without serious problems.