So you think you're hardcore? Well think again bubba, meet Acrassicauda!
Ok, as you have maybe already surmised, I review whatever I like; new or old, and this incredible documentary is probably one of the most inspiring films I have seen in the past couple of years...this and, of course, Anvil! The Story of Anvil. And besides, I live in a country where I often don't run across stuff until a year or two after the fact, so give me a break wouldya?
If you haven't seen this flick yet, then you had better get on it, because as with The Story of Anvil, this isn't just a documentary about the usual trials and tribulations of being a musician, this deals much more with dedication, love and brotherhood.
Acrassicauda is a heavy metal thrash band which was formed in 2001...in Iraq under Saddam, and you thought you had it bad in the bible belt! The band's members are: Faisal Talal Mustafa Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Tony Aziz Yaqoo Lead Guitar, Firas Al-Lateef Bass, and Marwan Riyadh Drums.
The film which took around three years to complete, was made by Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi, and spanned locations from Iraq to Syria. It follows the members of Acrassicauda as they try to pursue their dreams while at first, living under a regime of tyranny, then in an almost ceaseless hell of bloodshed and then finally, into exile.
It immediately strikes the viewer the bravery these guys had to have to even have considered playing this type of music in an environment where seemingly insignificant transgressions of social and religious norms can often result in a punishment of disfigurement or even death. They weren't just playing western music, they were playing thrash metal, a genre which, even in parts of the U.S., is considered to be vile and evil. Just imagine, for a moment, if you aren't understood in rural America, how were they percieved?
There are many touching and endearing moments in the film, moments which make holding your tears back an almost impossible task while at other moments, you just can't help but to laugh out loud. One part in particular which made me chuckle is when the band explains how, while under Saddam's government, headbanging was misunderstood and banned due to the fact that it looked similar to the bobbing head of Orthodox Jews while in prayer!
The sheer carnage and devastation of war, the separation of loved ones, the fear of simply walking down the street comes through the screen to envelope you in the stark reality of Iraq, a cocoon of depression and desperation, which is absolutely critical for you to even come close to comprehending what these guys had to go through just to thrash out some tunes. When compared to another certain documentary concerning a well known group, you quickly come to realize how jaded some of the bands in the west have become...how they seemed to have lost all concept of why they began to play in the first place and how they are now simply going through the motions, depending almost entirely on their brand name to push record sales.
Acrassicauda , reminds us that when it comes right down to it, you never sacrifice your dreams no matter how much it appears the world is doing its damndest to stop you, they teach us about the love between real friends and how those bonds can help you rise above all the troubles of the world.
I highly recommend this documentary, it will certainly put things in perspective if you are feeling down and believe life is tough, and maybe put you in your place if you think you're on your way to becoming a rock god.
Below is the video for Acrassicauda's Garden of Stones.