Heavy Metal in Baghdad: Masters of War

A new documentary tracks a brave band's tumultuous quest to rock out

Despite how far they've come, the band still has very real challenges to overcome. Istanbul is much safer than Baghdad, but it is not home. "Sometimes we want to go back," Riyak admits. "Where we come from, it's all about family. You live in your family house your whole life. We miss our families. At the same time, we have a lot of awful memories—a lot of people lost, a lot of sadness and drama. We put this stuff in the music because we don't really know what else to do with it."

"We're still struggling, but hopefully we're not going to stop as a band," Talal says. Acrassicauda has played a few shows in Istanbul, and hopes to record a four-track demo of new material in the next few weeks, on donated studio time and instruments. In the meantime, the band is prepping for their third and final interview with the United Nations High Council for Refugees, which will decide their fate, hopefully by assigning them to a refugee-friendly country. "We don't care where we go, so long as we can perform," Riyak says. "We follow the music, man." After all, metal never dies.

Acrassicauda improbably rages on.
Arts Alliance America/vbs.tv/Vice Films
Acrassicauda improbably rages on.

Learn more about the documentary at heavymetalinbaghdad.com; for New York Underground Film Festival showtimes, see nyuff.com/2008.

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