Archive for May 7, 2010

Acrassicauda – Only The Dead See The End Of The War (2010, Vice Records)

  1. Message From Baghdad
  2. Garden Of Stones
  3. Massacre
  4. The Unknown

Band Lineup:
Faisal Talal Mustafa – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Tony Yaqoo – Lead Guitar
Firas Abdul Razaq - Bass
Marwan Hussein – Drums

Producer: Alex Skolnick

Country: Iraq

Total Time = 20:49

Acrassicauda
Acrassicauda MySpace page
Vice Records
Heavy Metal In Baghdad

Acrassicauda is the Iraqi Metal band featured in the 2008 DVD documentary Heavy Metal In Baghdad and they have finally found safe haven and released their first official E.P., ONLY THE DEAD SEE THE END OF THE WAR. After watching the documentary a few times, Acrassicauda became one of those bands that I would often do Google searches for more information. Unfortunately, with the Iraq conflict raging and the band (and some of their family) trying to escape the violence, not much information has been put out there. I tracked the band’s journey over the last couple of years that has taken them from their Iraqi homeland to Syria, on to Turkey and then finally gaining asylum in the United States. Vice Records signed the band (based on Vice Magazine’s spotlight coverage on the band) and the now New Jersey based Thrash group has their first professional recording out there.

What you basically get here is a pure Thrash attack with harsh vocals, blistering guitars and bass and plenty of pounding double kick drumming. Sounds like your basic Thrash doesn’t it? Well, you’re right! Acrassicauda doesn’t stray too far from their obvious Metallica, Slayer, Testament and Iron Maiden influences to keep the music sounding like ’80s Thrash. I grew up when the Bay Area Thrash movement began in the early to mid ’80s so this influence is fine with me but fan of today’s Thrash and Metalcore scenes might find the vintage sound a little boring. ‘Message From Baghdad’ has a heavy Slayer and Testament influence with some great solos and ‘Garden Of Stones’ has an early Metallica sound with Mustafa trading his Chuck Billy styled vocals for more of a James Hetfield. Both songs are heavy Thrash, ‘Message From Baghdad’ utilizing pure speed and ‘Garden Of Stones’ going for a mid-tempo crunch…..the standout of the two is definitely ‘Garden’ with it’s strong hook around the chorus and it’s duelling guitars. The guitars are central to the overall Acrassicauda sound and the band adds a little Middle Eastern flavor of their homeland in the solos.

‘Massacre’ continues the slowed down Metallica worship but it includes a quick couple of lines at the beginning in, what I will assume, is Iraqi Arabic and some of the faster moments border on Metalcore/Black Metal racing speed. ‘Massacre’ is the second longest song on the E.P. but it’s 5:51 performance seems a little longer because of the different tempos and the extended solos. Final track of the E.P. is ‘The Unknown’, the longest song on the CD, and includes a very “marching” type main riff throughout along with duelling guitar solos. The drumming here sounds more basic in the performance, again more of a steady “march”, and the entire song sounds more like an instrumental outro than a full song.

Bottom Line:
First off, any band that makes Metal, promotes Metal and lives Metal in a country where they are destined to be persecuted for it gains a lot of respect in my book. It’s not always easy being a Metal fan but, when your country is widely religious and torn apart from war, being a Metal fan, or a member of a Metal band, can be dangerous. The Heavy Metal In Baghdad documentary brought Acrassicauda out of the Iraqi Metal underground and brought them some exposure, this E.P. proves that the exposure was well worth it. Only four songs here but each one is a well-crafted and performed piece of old school Thrash. The songs reflect the band’s experiences in their ravaged country during the war but I would have liked to hear a little more of their culture’s influence in the music. Maybe Acrassicauda will use more Middle Eastern influences on future songs and give themselves more of a unique identity but I am definitely satisfied with the E.P. they’ve released. The band has a solid future ahead…..and, most importantly, a safe one.

Favorite Songs:
There are only four songs here and I like them all but the crown jewel is ‘Garden Of Stones’.