Heavy Metal In Baghdad [DVD] review by Acrassicauda

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  • Released: Mar 12, 2008
  • Sound: 9
  • Content: 10
  • Production Quality: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (17 votes)
Acrassicauda: Heavy Metal In Baghdad [DVD]
2

Sound — 9
Anyone who's attempted to make a living in music already knows that it's a combination of talent, luck, and timing. But things aren't even that simple for band featured in the documentary Heavy Metal In Baghdad. As the only Iraqi heavy metal band, Acrassicauda has endured more than what most of us could imagine since the US invaded its country in 2003. I promise you that no matter what issues you're dealing with (be it gathering a solid fan base, working through personal problem with your bandmates, or being unable to afford a guitar), you'll have a very different perspective on your situation after watching this film. Filmmakers Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi traveled to Iraq to chronicle the day-to-day life of Acrassicauda, a group that basically just wants to play their Metallica covers in peace and have the freedom to grow a goatee if they want. But both of those desires are scrutinized to a frightening degree back in Iraq, and even finding fans who are courageous enough to attend their concerts can be an impossibility at times. Acrassicauda is a group that definitely does have talent, but playing in Iraq is pretty much a death wish. Throughout the course of filming, things go from bad to worse. Speaking English on the street can put you at risk; wearing a Slipknot shirt is asking to be targeted; and when you travel down a particular 7-mile strip of road, you should expect sniper fire. It's a heartbreaking piece of film, particular when you watch the absolute despair and hopelessness that Acrassicauda relays in interviews. Being labeled as the the only Iraqi heavy metal band might give you the impression that Acrassicauda is nothing more than a gimmick, but all of the players have as much talent (if not more) than a lot of metal bands with record contracts. And if ever there was a band that needed to play brutal music to channel their anger, that would be Acrassicauda. The film covers a few of their gigs, and it's absolutely fascinating to see the band's technical skill as well as the Iraqi fans' passion for metal. They risk being bombed or shot at to attend these shows, but it's essentially therapy where they can release all of the anger and fear. The band eventually has to take refuge in Syria (and since the film, Turkey), and there is an incredibly sad comment from one of the band saying that he figured that most of those original fans were either dead or simply disappeared.

Content — 10
The film is still currently being shown at festivals across the country, but this is a documentary that I do hope will make it to DVD in the not-too-distant future. At about an hour-and-a-half long, Heavy Metal In Baghdad contains some absolutely incredible, gritty footage of life in Iraq. Moretti and Alvi go above and beyond what a lot of foreign journalists attempt in Iraq, which obviously makes their security crew feel uncomfortable. For $1,500 they purchased a bulletproof SUB, another unprotected vehicle, 2 drivers, 2 shooters, and 1 translator. That number of bodyguards grows exponentially when the security company realized that these particular journalists are taking more risks. It could have easily turned into a piece of political commentary, but the filmmakers primarily keep the story focused on the situations that Acrassicauda have personally experienced -- and they've gone through more than most of us can imagine. Their practice space is destroyed along with all their instruments after a bombing; they have to leave their families behind; and their dreams of being in a band are nearly destroyed. While you can't really say that Heavy Metal In Baghdad has a happy ending, there is more hope for Acrassicauda than when they were living in Iraq.

Production Quality — 9
The film footage is gritty at times, but that's totally to be expected when you take into consideration that Moretti and Alvi weren't allowed to film in most places. There is plenty of shaky footage because the crew was constantly on the move, but there is also an equal helping of well-shot live footage and interviews. Given the less-than-ideal situation, artsy camera shots would just take away from the reality of living in Iraq.

Overall Impression — 10
The film might not have arrived in every city yet, but definitely check it out when you get an opportunity. There is such a transformation within the band itself, and you watch as the smiles and sarcasm from the early moments of the film eventually turn into tears and despair. Music is what keeps Acrassicauda going through it all, and it's devastating when the members contemplate giving it all up. Moving to Syria might keep them physically safe, but it's not until they record their first CD that you really do get a chance to see the smiles return.

47 comments sorted by best / new / date

    slomoslam
    This should be a reminder of how we as Americans take what we have for granit. I use to complain when I was a kid because my neighbors got sick of 5 hours jam sessions and would call the cops. That sure beats being shot.
    TC1223
    all these emo singers who think they have problems should check out these guys !
    roosterfx1
    tiv heard their demo song Massacre, i can imagine how cool it would sound properly recorded. its got some awesome solos and tapping. and eastern flutes things as well!
    Multiplayerjon
    wow it's the Baghdad Valient Thorr... I wanna piece of this cake, i mean, CD... riiggghhhhtttt
    Jondy
    does anyone have a link to the actual thing? I want to see it. This is... this is like what metal is all about. Everything we have ever believed in on a hypothetical level these guys are living.
    MRTTVD
    I am an Iraqi (not living in Iraq) and I am happy to see my country have the same passion for metal that I do. I hope this band and Iraq get through this difficult time and thank you for the review.
    RPGoof
    Most brutal band on the planet as of NOW. I gotta check this movie out
    Smurfreak
    here's the trailer
    http://yo utube.com/watch?v=g-bWNENmB0I&feature=related
    LD_Luke D
    these guys are the true definition of a rock hero. they risk being killed to play their music, all they want to do is play, not start riots or overthrow trhe government. they're not in it for the glam and money and chicks. i hope all of America sees this and it brings us back to what music is really about.
    shaft66
    eye opening for the troops in Iraq everyday, dealing w/ snipers and IED's even in the pits of hell, there is a light shining through Awesome Metal
    not_dead_enough
    I agree with all you guys, and really hope this band hit it big; they deserve it. But i'm sorry but I gotta raise 2 points: -If they get signed, obviously I hope they're not still just playing Metallica covers :p -If they do hit it big, I want their fans to like them for what they are. 99% of you here have decided you love this band probably without hearing a single note of theirs. And if a major label takes them on, I think they'd rather people buy their album because they like the songs, not because they were "that Iraqi band who grew up in warfare"...I'm not saying their songs are bad coz I haven't heard them either, but I want them to succeed for the right reasons.
    Axe_Burner
    Some parts of this documentary were on Youtube a while back. I loved what I saw, this documentary kicks ass. I didn't get to hear a lot of their music, but the story is awesome and pretty touching. I salute this, I'm glad it's getting released!
    zartists.net
    You can watch it online on netflix with a subscription, or wait for them to send the dvd. Either way I highly recommend watching this, everyone in the world should watch this, very insipirational and f'd up what is going on in those countries. They are very talented guys too, the guitarist shreds.
    ParkerScks
    same where i live u go out dressed like a rock dude and ure asking for a beating. but thats not as bad as a bullet, but yall get my point, its ****ing stupid, definitly pick this up,
    Regression
    All0utR0ck wrote: This is reeeallly old news...I saw this on CNN.com like a month ago...why does UG always get recycled news?
    Because this isn't the news section. And ahh ofcourse people had to start hating on popular bands. If they were doing it for the money, then why would they have singers with distinctly unique voices, wouldn't it have been much safer to choose someone with a generic voice. Please just keep the hate for mainstream bands out of here, we know 99% of UG hates them, & we don't need to be reminded on every single review, article, interview and forum.
    Regression
    This looks really interesting. But how do they know they are the only Iraqi heavy metal band? =S I'll be looking out for this dvd.
    All0utR0ck
    This is reeeallly old news...I saw this on CNN.com like a month ago...why does UG always get recycled news?
    XxPunkMafiaxX
    now thats what you call dedication to music. none of this mainstream crap *cough* FOB *cough* MCR who are just in it for the glam and the money. this is a real band. i'll have 2 check themm out
    Robert I.
    This looks extremly interesting... nasty political warfare situations, and good music. Sounds like a dedicated band
    darkened.ron
    Fuck yeah thats what Metal is about ! stuff racist closed minded F*#&wits They fight and in the end still manage to play some brutality
    +}-136-{+
    Being part of a minority group within a minority group (I'm a Chinese metal fan) and living in a place where there is hardly a metal scene (Taiwan), I can definitely relate to these guys, though not on the same exact level. I'm definitely gonna check this film out.
    kaptink
    I saw five minutes of this on current TV a while ago, i didn't know there was a full length version available but what I saw was good.
    blackriderrom
    That's what true dedication to music is about. Damn all the racists and discriminators, all bow down and hail Acrassicauda!
    Mutant Corn
    Most of us look like posers compared to these guys...that's real dedication. It's sad that a band like that likely won't get signed, while Fallout Boy and MCR repeatedly violate all that is music..
    dann_blood
    ^Guys, seriously, stop bringing up mainstream bands, theres no need for it. This is a review about a band that is doing it tougher than pretty much any other band in the world, so don't turn it into one of your bitchy roasts of other bands. I truly hope that these Acrassicauda make it through the tough times and get signed.
    Smurfreak
    Its not really the only metal band in iraq and we have trouble making music everywhere in the mideast, not just because of war
    \Powerslave/
    I looked these guys up, they sound really good. Myself, being from the middle east originally can totally relate. I wish these guys luck.
    CapnKickass
    Sounds interesting, if I was still in school I'd get it to watch in my 'world issues' class.
    Shuk
    These guys have REASON to be metal, with all the brutality that is in their daily lives, they can manifest that anger and brutality into music. This is what metal is about. It's kind of weird seeing all these brutal death metal people who are rich and live comfortable lives.
    troyponce
    XxPunkMafiaxX wrote: now thats what you call dedication to music. none of this mainstream crap *cough* FOB *cough* MCR who are just in it for the glam and the money. this is a real band. i'll have 2 check themm out
    If you think Fall Out Boy's musicians are only in it for the money, you might wanna... stop being a goddamn moron? Look into their history, check out a band called Racetraitor. Grow up. NOTE: I don't like Fall Out Boy. I just dislike dumbassery more.
    mtllica
    Great documentary, its amazing what these guys went through. Their music is pretty damn good too, I recommend buying their EP "Only the Dead See the End of the War" off of iTunes or Amazon, they've really gotten to be a solid band.