General discussion

Locked

Heavy Metal In Baghdad

By Oz_Media ·
ACRASSICAUDA - Latin for Black Scorpion (the most deadly, found in Iraqi deserts)

Okay, I'm behind on this one, something I should have been aware of a year ago at least.

I finally watched Heavy Metal In Baghdad yesterday, and was quite surprised at the actual scene in Baghdad, compared to what is reported in the media over here.

ACRASSICAUDA is/was Iraq's only heavy metal band. A group of fairly educated, English speaking (when not in public)young men in their mid to late 20's (though with the wisdom and life experience exceeding most North Americans far beyond their age)that has struggled endlessly since the beginning or the war to play their Western influenced music for handfuls of fans who have the guts ot show up an watch them. I say guts because you can't wear your hair long, you aren't supposed to wear western heavy metal t-shirts (Slayer, Metallica et al.) and you can't bang your head to the music. In Israel they bob their heads when praying; in Baghdad, Heavy Metal headbanging is misunderstood as a form of Jewish prayer and can get you locke dup forever. But these four guys work day and night just to get a chance to play their music for other fearless fans (a dozen or so brave souls at a time).

It was a fantastic documentary that actually begins just before the war, where they were happy, headbanging and actually playing afew shows here and there.

They first welcomed the war, with much excitement and anticipation toward being free and living in the free world, however that dream has not come to pass.

Since the war began, it became more and mreo dangerous in Baghdad, with gangs of fighters (they guess at thousands of different, unrelated groups fighting now)that have come form all over, Syria, Pakistan etc. simply to fight, supposedly this is NOT Jihad, as we are lead to believe, but just to fight the fight against America.

One of teh band members was asked about the purpose and how religion has effected teh war. His reply was that it has nothign to do with religion, Sunni's and shiite's aren't at war and they don't hate each other. As Muslim himself, he is Shiite and married to a Sunni woman, which is common and acceptable in Baghdad.

He also claims it has nothing to do with Jihad at all and that it is just western media that has played out that card to the people, it was Obama's big draw for the Taliban (who don't seem to play a part in this fight in Iraq).

All but one of the band members LOOK Western, wear heavy metal t-shirts and play western music (which is how they learned English,which they speak very well, from watching movies and music). The language is full of f-bombs and common English slang you would expect form any 20 something metalhead.

But there is a side that constantly tries to change their goals and make them want to fight the fight too. When living in Baghdad, one member owned a small computer shop, where they rehearsed for up to 12 hours a day, anything but face reality of life in Iraq. When it was bombed (a entirely civillian street of shops with medical buildings etc.) their hopes were shattered, instruments destroyed etc.

After two members fled Baghdad ot become refugees in Syria, they looked to rebuild and regroup again. A couple of years later, the cameras return to Baghdad where two members remained, they said that the violence was far worse now and had been getting worse daily since the invasion. "We were looking forwadr to freedom and where is this freedom they (allies) speak of?"

While they don't outwardly blame America, which could be due to fear, they do comment on the situation constantly worsening since the invasion on several times. In Syria where an estimated 3000 Baghdad residents flee to every single day, they are refugees. They are "less than zero" and can't get jobs, live in slums and when they do work it is 12hrs a day, 7 days a week for about $100.00 per month.

One member fled ot Syria with his wife and child, upon calling home to Baghdad, his parents tell him not to return and just to start a new life in Syria and move ahead. He doesn' twant to live in syria, Baghdad was his home, and yet he and teh others are constantly urder to stay in syria as it is not safe in baghdad. Most of the 'headbangers' in the audience shown in the early part of the film are now dead or have moved away from Baghdad, the band lives with the hope of playing shows for new fans.

When I say shows, I mean a dozen or so fans crammed into a tiny underground room, with gas generators to power equopment and shows must be finished by 7PM so that fans can get back home before curfew.

Two band members, when living in Baghdad after the invasion, lived only 15 minutes apart. They hadn't seen each other for over 6 months as it is simply too risky and unsafe to go outside for unnecessary trips or visits.

The guys making the film had to pay for escorts and armed drivers to take them around the city as needed, not being able to stop for mroe than 5 minutes anywhere as they US troops and insurgent snipers would either arrest them or shoot them. When being stopped by the IP (Iraqqi Police) they never know whether it is a group of insurgents that have stolen a police car or if they are genuine IP.

After watching a rough cut of the film in their tiny Syrian home (no windows and living 3 metres below ground in an unheated room) th eband members start with positive cheer, wathing film of one of the few perofmrances they had in Baghdad. Soon after they ar horrified while looking at footage of the bombed out rehearsale space and small computer shop of one member. The footage was severakl days after the blast, assumed by filmers ot be an RPG shot, but also said to be from a US Apache helicopter.

they simply keep on living their lives in th emost horrific and dangerous condistions. While conducting a short outdoor interview, there is a man swimming in the reporters hotel pool, whilst gunfire and bombs can be heard not too far away on both sides of them. They simply live in constant fear with the war taking place around them.

It doesn't seem to be anythign like the success we constantly hear about, there is nowhere near the normal life and peace being instilled thta we often hear about. The insurgents are nto all grouped together, fighting Jihad as we often hear about. There is not end in sight for this fight and the fighters pour in from all over just to take a shot at fighting Americans.

I HIGHLY recommend watching this documentary. Whether you follow heavy metal or not, it is mroe of a story about what hurdles a normal, upstanding citizen of Iraq has endured in orde rot simply play music during the comstantly escalating violence.

Read their BIO and a few words from a mamber here: http://www.heavymetalinbaghdad.com/blog.php

YOu can get a copy online or torrent a file if you are into that, its readily available and a well put together film spanning from the time Saddam's statue was pulled down to near present day.

I promise you will be very surprised at the reality of what is going on there.

some interesting footnotes:

-80% of all singers have fled Iraq, 75 of them were killed.
New York Times reports: "Music filled parties and all kinds of singing". Sure.

-As it is too dangerous, between allied troops and insurgents, to stay in Baghdad, most residents have fled or are seeking ways to flee the country.

-Syria has accepted 1.2 million Badghdad refugees into the country, Hordan 750,000. With other neighbouring countries (Turkey, Iran, Egypt,Jordan) taking the rest of the several million who have been forced to leave home behind and flee to claim refuge status.

-as of December 2006, USA had allowed a total of 466 refugees into the USA, as they fight to "save the people".

-One young man, unrelated ot the band but helpign them by finding reheasal space etc. when he can, looks Western, sounds Western, is well dressed, well spoken, clean cut and very intelligent.His only question is why can't he have freedom? Why can't he go anywhere? Why can't he get on a plane and travel? Iraqi's are treated as insugents no metter where they go. They don't look like insurgents, their passports are clean and all is on the up and up, but they can't go anywhere.

- To meet with a band member for 5 minutes, they are stopped at a road black (no undofrms just guys with guns) and not allowed through as the cameraman looks American. Speaking English in pubic is strictly forbidden and can get you shot.

-fleeing for the 16 hour bus trip from Baghdad to Damascus, two members (one with wife and child) were charged three times the cost of the trip (what they call robbed by the driver). They passed buses along the way that were shells, no people, no clothing nothing, just a bus, which must be very unnerving! They say it was teh scariest 16 hours of their lives (after living in a war zone).

They all miss living with their families in Baghdad, and year to return to their home and live in peace. Family members assure that that this will never happen and to simply start a new life where they can and forget about ever returning to Baghdad.


My intent is not to cast blame on the allies, those were merely the words and examples of the band and film makers. But it seems that the stories we hear and the reality of what Iraqi citizens see are two VERY different things indeed.

I think the part that caught me off guard was that the band members (though admittedly not into watching the news, practicing religion or politics)say that it is NOT a religious war at this time, nobody seems to be affiliated with one another or for a common cause. Sunnis and shiites are NOT having religious differences and they actually live in harmony. It is just the few radicals that are shown.

Watching a comedy special the other day, Russell Peters - Red, White and Brown (another MUST WATCH, hilarious!!!!), he commented that the media is showing only the radical Islamists and not the real citizens. Just as Americans are portrayed in the media by the most ridiculous reknecks they can find. In essence, the people we see on TV are Iraq's redknecks, not the real people who try to live there each day.

Sorry for length but it was a rather interesting story witha LOT of information that just isn't shown here.

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

2 total posts (Page 1 of 1)  
| Thread display: Collapse - | Expand +

All Comments

Collapse -

surprised? why?

by Jaqui In reply to Heavy Metal In Baghdad

after all, if they wanted to have peace, the americans would have kicked the organised military's butts and left.

by staying they brought themselves another geurilla war, just like Veitnam and Afganistan.

Collapse -

The civil war is worse than I though

by Oz_Media In reply to surprised? why?

The band members said that at first it was looking good, but the US quickly started losing the war and is now just another player in the field.

Freedom was seen at one time, but now they say freedom will never happen and if THIS is freedom they don't want it.

Insurgents turn up in droves from all over, not together and not organized, just there to fight against America.

Back to IT Employment Forum
2 total posts (Page 1 of 1)  

Related Discussions

Related Forums