Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Acrassicauda: A reprint from Onthepodcast

Hi everyone, Joe from here.

I’m sure you’re all amazed that there’s something posted here besides a reprint of the show notes from the latest episode of Onthepodcast over at Onthepodcast.netwink, wink, nudge, nudge. Regardless, I found a topic that I thought was important enough to not only feature in Episode 11 but to also reprint a loose transcript of below.

It’s about the band Acrassicauda (A-Cras-Si-Cow-Da).

If you haven’t heard Episode 11, they’re billed as Iraq’s only Heavy Metal band. That’s right ladies and gentlemen…that Iraq. Humor me and just think about that for a minute. If you’re from the United States, what are your impressions of Iraq? I ask that to anyone who’s never been there mind you, which I feel safe in believing is still most of us.

If you’re here at you most likely share an interest in the subjects that we cover so let me ask you something else. Did you ever think that a Heavy Metal band could exist in a Middle East at peace...much less one plunged into unrest and strife? The fact that one band, Acrassicauda, exists in the midst of war and civil war over political and religious ideals is nothing short of mind blowing.

However in a climate of religious intolerance and extremism, at least as viewed from the removed safety of a television screen in America, the concept of freedom speech, much less that of musical expression, seems to have floated away as so much smoke.

Where does that leave the four members of Acrassicauda?

Having fled from Iraq to Syria only to be threatened with the possibility of being forced to return to Iraq, Acrassicauda now finds themselves as refugees in Istanbul, Turkey facing a similar fate.

But…we may be able to help them and that’s why I’ve decided to repost a loose transcript of the piece on them from Episode 11. I say loose because I added things as I was reading but this has the majority of what was said, excluding my stupendous “um”s.

Check it out, see if you think it’s something you would dig or could get behind. If you can go donate a few bucks to keep these four guys were they are.

Thanks and enjoy.

So I woke up this morning, roll out of bed and log on to twitter,like I always do, and I happen to see a post from my twitter friend in Turkey, Melissa Maples with a link that leads back to her website There, she has a blog post with the title Save Lives, Save Music, Make A Difference.

I read and it’s basically a repost of a blog with
some commentary from Villa Luna at that was called Help Save Our Heavy Metal Friends From An Uncertain Fate In Baghdad.

So I read it because I’m a stupid US citizen and know there’s no Heavy Metal in Iraq…right? Wrong. It turns out that not only is there Heavy Metal in Iraq, it’s also home grown…at least it was.

So what I’d like to read you the piece from Villa Luna that was posted on that blog. I actually believe that is a repost from a blog of a band called Acrassicauda who the post is about. So, check it out:


In November 2007, the Iraqi metal band Acrassicauda was able to get to Turkey through the help of friends who donated money for them to leave Syria. Their visas in Syria were expiring and the government of Syria was threatening to force all Iraqis to return to Iraq.

Now they are in Turkey and their money and options are running out. Life in Turkey is very expensive and very difficult for people waiting to find out if they can officially be resettled by the UNHCR in another country (Turkey does not accept refugees from anywhere other than the West). As it stands now, they may have to return to Baghdad, simply because they can't afford to stay in Turkey much longer. It's impossible to stress just how dangerous this will be for them. It could very likely be a death sentence, and the time in which we can help them is quickly running out.

You can help by making a donation to assist Acrassicauda in surviving while they are stuck waiting in Istanbul. The band has no bank accounts, and Paypal doesn't function in Turkey so the makers of the documentary about them (HEAVY METAL IN BAGHDAD) setup a Paypal account on their behalf. No donation is too small. By giving as little as ten dollars, you can be a part of keeping the heavy metal dreams of four young Iraqi men alive.

Donate Here!

Born out of a basement rehearsal space in Baghdad, Acrassicauda (Latin for "black scorpion") is Iraq's only heavy metal band. Inspired by western bands like Metallica, Slayer and Slipknot, they began writing and playing metal in 2001. Their dream of performing live in Iraq soon became the struggle of their lives.

Due to increased security precautions throughout Iraq, it became difficult to practice-much less get through a show-without literally risking their lives. As the situation worsened in Baghdad they began receiving death threats from insurgents and religious fundamentalists accusing them of Satanism.

(that doesn't sound familiar does it?)

The war has now all but destroyed their dream of living in peace, growing their hair long, banging their heads and shredding as loud as they want. The members of Acrassicauda are currently seeking asylum in Istanbul, Turkey. All of their visa applications to foreign countries have been denied."

So I finish this and I’m fairly stunned by the fact that first of all there’s a metal band in the middle east at all because the thought never even occurred to me that there could be, and second of all that MTV isn’t running this story every twenty minutes instead of my super fabulous sweet sixteen spend fest.

I mean we invaded another country for god’s sake, and made a fine mess of it while we were at it, you would figure that the least we could do besides talking about body counts would be to actually educate ourselves as to the culture we were busy turning on it’s ear…but I digress and a bit politically at that.

Anyway…I went out and did a web search for Acrassicauda and found their MySpace page…because everybody has a MySpace page. There you can find out a little more about Firas, Tony, Marwan and Faisal and actually hear these guys play. There are three tracks from their demo in the player, unfortunately none of them are downloadable so I don’t have anything to play for you from them. But in addition to the bands they mention I hear a lot of classic Iron Maiden influence in them as well as a few other bands.

For a demo, it’s actually pretty good as I’ve heard, and made, a lot worse.

In listening to these tracks, it’s amazing to me just how universal music really is. I mean my experience has been with Eastern music styles flowing into the West, but to know that it also flows the other way is kind of amazing…at least to me. Much less into Iraq, even though I don’t know why it should be. Kids are kids everywhere and the same feelings and emotions that drive western teens to seek out rock and roll don’t suddenly disappear because of some invisible border.

You may have caught in Villa Luna piece the reference to a documentary by the name of Heavy Metal in Baghdad. You can find out at as well as see a trailer of the flick, a couple of video segments with the band and a band blog.

The post there seems to be reprinted along with a few others at Acrassicauda’s MySpace page…and if you take the whole thing out of context, the posts are astoundingly similar to those of any other struggling band out there. In context of course, you get war, insurgency and a relatively low chance of survival if Firas, Tony, Marwan and Faisal have to return to Iraq.

Being a musician and a music lover I just found this whole story fascinating and eye opening. I think, for me at least, my ideas of Iraq and their culture as a whole has been shaped by a lot of second hand fear mongering and could pretty much fit into a pez dispenser.

The fact that Acrassicauda is even out there makes me wonder…actually makes me know that there is so much more going on out there in the world then we are led to believe…and I’m fairly over educated and admittedly have no clue.

My thought is that if we all as Americans heard a bit more about things like Acrassicauda maybe we could afford a bit more time to things we don’t understand instead of jumping to conclusions and making the assumptions that always seem to land us in a mess we didn’t have to be in.

As for Acrassicauda, they’re not just a band, they’re people too and they do kind of need our help. As for me, I kind of feel responsible for their situation a little bit even if I did vote for Gore…which is actually a whole other interesting issue if you’re old enough to remember the PMRC from the 80’s, but I again digress.

Head on over to the Acrassicauda MySpace page and the Heavy Metal In Baghdad page and click on the donate links. Drop them the cost of one day’s latte at Starbucks and see if we cant somehow help four guys, four musicians and four Iraqis (i should have said four fellow human beings) not have to go back to Iraq until we clean up the mess we made there.

We had our go at calling metal “devils music” here in the States but somehow I think they penalties for Acrassicauda would be a little bit worse in Iraq right now.


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