HEAVY METAL IN BAGHDADThe Vietnam War played a significant role in popularising rock music. The war in Iraq, however, definitely sounds like heavy metal. But the imports played by the occupying American forces is not the only music out there, for Iraq has its own home-grown heavy metal band in the shape of Acrassicauda. The Iraqi band, which has been playing since 2001, models itself on the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Slipknot. It isn’t easy being a heavy metal band in Iraq – not even after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Acrassicauda (the name is based on the Latin word for ‘black scorpions’) only had three appearances before war broke out in 2003. After the fighting had abated, the band’s lead singer left the country and a new front man had to be found. The security situation in the country made it difficult to practise, and live appearances were out of the question. When things got really bad, the band received death threats from rebels and religious fundamentalists accusing them of worshipping the devil. A concert scheduled at Hotel Al Fanar in 2005 had to be abandoned after a car bomb exploded nearby.
In the six years since its inception, the band has only played six concerts. The band’s dream of living their lives in peace as long-haired head bangers at full blast has been destroyed by war. At present, the band’s four members are living as refugees in Damascus. They were refused visas for other countries. After two years of trying to establish contact, the filmmakers finally caught up with Acrassicauda in the summer of 2006, when they were still in Baghdad. There was still heavy fighting going on in the city, and up to 300 people were being killed in bomb attacks every single day. As raw as Acrassicauda’s music may sound, it nevertheless contains the hopes and emotions of an entire generation in Iraq.