Acrassicauda – Only The Dead See The End Of The War (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’.

The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2008

2008 was another great year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal DVDs but I didn’t buy nearly as many as I did last year. This year was all about the quality instead of the quantity as the global economy became the issue of the year. The good news is that bands are taking great care when producing these DVDs by adding extra content, bonus footage and CDs of live performances to the overall packages. Money has to be spent wisely and the following list of DVDs gave a lot of bang for my hard earned buck! Here’s my list of The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2008:

#1

Iron Maiden - Live After Death DVD (2008)Iron Maiden – Live After Death

There was no competing with Iron Maiden when it came to DVD of the Year. Live After Death was released in early February and it led wire to wire as the best DVD released this year. The original Live After Death concert footage was in dire need of a proper DVD release and the band answered the call with a remastered DVD of the full performance from the old VHS. In addition to the main feature, the band exceeded expectations and went the extra mile with the second DVD including the History of Iron Maiden, Behind The Iron Curtain, Rock In Rio ’85, ‘Ello Texas, and promotional videos. With over 5+ hours of content and landmark performances Iron Maiden’s latest DVD was the best value of the year, I paid $14 on sale and it was money well spent.

#2

ironmaidenandnewwaveofbyw4Iron Maiden and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal

Just like KISS did last year, Iron Maiden has taken the first two slots in this year’s DVD awards…..technically. This DVD has a disclaimer on the back that states that “this film is not authorized by the current lineup of Iron Maiden nor by their management or record label”. So the band had nothing to do with the release but there is plenty of archival footage of the band as they spearheaded probably the most important movement in Heavy metal history: The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. There is a ton of music and footage, both studio and live recordings, of many of the major NWOBHM bands like Saxon, Samson, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Def Leppard, Praying Mantis and more. Bands members are interviewed as are industry experts like Malcolm Dome, Geoff Barton, and Garry Bushell along with perhaps THE most influential man in the NWOBHM movement, legendary Metal DJ Neil Kay. A DVD that has over 2 1/2 hours of NWOBHM history would have easily taken the top spot any other year but it came in a close second to Live After Death even though I bought it at the end of December. 

#3

gamma-ray-hell-yeah-the-awesome-foursome-live-in-montreal-dvdGamma Ray – Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome – Live In Montreal 

Gamma Ray of one of the best Power Metal bands of all-time and they released an excellent 2 DVD set this year. Disc 1 is a full 2 hour live performance in Montreal, Canada from May 2006. Right there that should be enough but the band adds a second DVD with 2 1/2 hours of bonus footage including a road movie from their 2006 North American tour, videos, Wacken Open Air performances from 2003 & 2006, and Historay. How can you beat over 4 1/2 hours of Gamma Ray for less than $20? The only thing that could have put this in the top spot was if the accompanying CD release of the Montreal concert was included. If that was included and not a separate release, this DVD set would have come very close to taking top honors this year.

#4

heavy-metal-in-baghdad-dvdHeavy Metal In Baghdad

I have always liked learning about the Heavy Metal scene in different countries and Heavy Metal In Baghdad helped me explore the Metal scene in war-torn Iraq. The film follows the Iraqi Metal band Acrassicauda from the beginning of the U.S./Iraq war to the band’s escape from the country and their survival in a new home. There is a lot of talk about “living for Heavy Metal” and “following your dreams” in the Metal scene but that is exactly what Acrassicauda do. Playing Heavy Metal in a country like Iraq is not something that the government and religious community embrace, this makes bands like Acrassicauda outcasts. With their lives in danger everyday with the threats of war, the band members follow their dreams and fight to survive. It shows you how lucky we are in the U.S. This DVD is just under3 hours and includes the main 90 minute film and an additional 90 mins of bonus footage.

#5

paul-stanley-one-live-kiss-dvdPaul Stanley – One Live KISS

KISS is my favorite band and last year they took the top two spots with KISSology Volumes 2 & 3. Here to represent the band is founder, frontman and guitarist Paul Stanley with a DVD chronicling his sold-out solo performance in Chicago on 11/6/2006. The 21 song setlist includes tracks from his 2006 solo album LIVE TO WIN as well as many KISS klassics that you never get to hear. It’s a very basic release in terms of content, there really isn’t much bonus material, but the footage shows off the one thing KISS fans have known for decades: Paul Stanley is the talent in KISS! Highlights for me were some of the tracks from Paul’s 1978 solo album like ‘Move On’, ‘Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me?’, & ‘Goodbye’.

Heavy Metal In Baghdad DVD (2008)

Heavy Metal In Baghdad (2008, Vice Films)

  • Main documentary (84 mins)
  • Bonus material (88 mins)

(Region 1, NTSC, Total Running Time = 2 hrs 52 mins)

Acrassicauda is:
Marwan – Drums
Firas – Bass
Tony – Guitars
Faisal – Lead Vocals & Guitars

Heavy Metal In Baghdad
Acrassicauda MySpace page

Heavy Metal In Baghdad is the story of Iraqi Heavy Metal pioneers Acrassicauda. Directors Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi turned their attention to Acrassicauda based on a magazine article that chronicled the Metal scene in Iraq as the regime of Saddam Hussein fell in 2003. The film follows the band from 2004 through 2007 as they try to find a way to survive and keep their Heavy Metal dreams alive in their war-torn homeland.

The documentary shows a history of the band from their early beginnings in 2000-2001 up until early 2007, depicting not only their struggles as a Metal band but also as human beings. One of the most striking things about the film was the real look inside devastated Baghdad that Alvi & Moretti made sure they captured. Seeing the destruction, danger and despair from a different angle than what we are shown on the U.S. news brought everything down to earth. The band is more than a Metal band, they are just regular people and all they want is to have the freedom to live. Their is a bond among the members and their family that is pure and their only goal is to find a better life somewhere…..all the while missing the country, and family, they left behind. The film follows the band from Iraq to Syria then to Turkey as each new challenge to survival means relocating. Everyday brings new problems, new hassles, in an effort to make a better life. Shows you just how lucky we are here in the U.S.! There is music on this DVD too, it’s not all doom and gloom. Their is footage from various gigs over the years, as well as the band in the studio during their first recording session, makes you remember that this is about a band. These guys love Heavy Metal…..they like to play it, listen to it, and live it.

Bottom Line:
The basic premise of the film is to show how Acrassicauda has survived with their lives turned inside-out by the war that has ravaged their country for the last few years. The band is more than a band, more than simply Iraqis…..they are people with hopes, dreams, and ambitions and a specific desire to have a better life. I have to give the directors credit for bonding with the band and their families and trying everything they can to help them. This DVD is a step in the right direction for the awareness of the plight of millions of innocent Iraqi people as told through a Heavy Metal band’s survival. Definitely a must see and one of the best Metal documentaries I’ve seen. It’s a bit more political and focused on the effects of the war than on actual music but it is a fascinating and riveting story.

If you go to the Heavy Metal In Baghdad website, there is a link for donations that go directly to the effort to help the band continue their daily survival and quest for a stable life.

CD Scavenger Hunt – 6/24/08

Yes! It’s time for another Hunt!

The main reason I went out on the hunt was the new Motley Crue album, SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES, but I also wanted to cross off a few albums on the list of 2008 releases I’ve missed. Of course, I took my two daughters with me and, in the chaos of getting them out the door, I left my list on the kitchen table! Here’s what I grabbed…..

Motley Crue – Saints Of Los Angeles (2008) – $9.99: The new Crue was the main reason I left the house at 9:45am Tuesday to wait outside my local Newbury Comics. I had a coupon in had to get the album for $9.99 and I was more than happy to get the album on sale. Looking online today, I noticed that Best Buy had a limited exclusive with a bonus DVD for the same price! Ugh! Well, I’m not going out and buying the Best Buy version too because I don’t need the ‘Saints Of L.A.’ video, the press conference, and the two live tunes they did. I guarantee the band releases a new live DVD after this tour and this will be included.

Týr – Land (2008) limited edition – $12.88: I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of LAND from Napalm Records (thanks Napalm!) to review. I listened to LAND for weeks and posted a review but I wasn’t satisfied with owning the promo. The promo came in a cardboard slipcase (no booklet, etc.) and the music is watermarked with a few voiceovers on some of the songs saying, “You are listening to the new Týr album…Land.” Now I can’t have that! The limited edition is a double CD digipak with a bonus DVD of Týr’s performance at Wacken 2007 and a full color booklet of course.

Annihilator – Metal (2007) – $11.88: I have been waiting almost two years to pick this album up! METAL was available thru the official Annihilator website in late 2006 as a web-only purchase and then it got a proper worldwide release (except North America) on SPV in early 2007. Of course, the album finally got a U.S. release earlier this year but it was still around $18! There has been one copy floating around the local record store since last year and they just put a sale tag on it now…..bought! Saved myself $6 by waiting, I hope it was worth it because Annihilator is one of those bands I always look forward to hearing new material from.

Brimstone – Carving A Crimson Career (1999) – $10: This was actually a recent Ebay purchase. I recently got a press release from Metal Mind about their reissue of this album in the upcoming months, they have a licence to a lot of the Nuclear Blast back catalogue from the ’90s. Anyway, the cover art struck me as goofy so I wanted to hear the album. Picked this up for $6 plus $4 shipping…..now I don’t need the reissue…..I still haven’t given this a spin.

Heavy Metal In Baghdad DVD (2008) – $14.99: This was on my list for last week’s Judas Priest hunt but the local shop only stocked two and they were sold out when I got there. I always like hearing Metal from different parts of the world so this documentary on Iraq’s Acrassicauda was a must have. I bought the limited edition with 90 mins of bonus material.