New on DVD: Heavy Metal in Baghdad

Heavy Metal in Baghdad is about a non-political band being drowned in politics.

Acrassicauda is the only heavy metal band in Iraq. Their concerts are few and far between and members carry a gun to get to their practice space. They are forced to keep their hair short to avoid being killed and headbanging is a criminal act. Their fans are loyal but decreasing as they die or join the mass exodus. Their only goal is to succeed as a heavy metal band.

Filmmakers Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi introduce audiences to Firas (bass), Tony (lead guitar), Marwan (drums) and Faisal (vocals/rhythm guitar): Acrassicauda.

The band was formed in 2001 and gained the attention of Moretti and Alvi when their magazine Vice published an article in 2004 titled “No war for heavy metal,” featuring the metalheads.

The documentary details the filmmakers’ first failed attempt at meeting the band for a joint-organized concert, which was followed by a successful gathering a year later; although, by then, two of the members had fled the war-torn country. Their next meeting is in Syria, where the reunited band members and some of their families have taken refuge.

Even though the band is the subject of the documentary, they sometimes take a backseat to the tragedy of their situation and the generally horrendous conditions in Iraq. They speak candidly of the effects the U.S. occupation has had on their music and the declining quality of life in the country. Their anger fuels their music.

The DVD special features almost compose another feature-length documentary, combining for 88-minutes of footage. The key extra is a 45-minute documentary that picks up where the feature film left off. The members of Acrassicauda are now in Istanbul, Turkey attempting to obtain refugee status from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Other clips include three live performances by the band and seven deleted and extended scenes. The DVD also comes with an eight-page booklet, including the original article that began the journey.

Heavy Metal in Baghdad is emotional, enlightening and entertaining. It’s a must-see for heavy metal fans and anyone interested in a genuinely compelling story.

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