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Heavy Metal in Baghdad (DVD Review)

1 Jun, 2008 By: David Greenberg

Heavy Metal in Baghdad

Street 6/10/08
Arts Alliance America
$19.95 DVD
Not rated.

What might at first sound like a metaphor for war or even the punchline to a joke, Heavy Metal in Baghdad is neither an allusion to something else nor even remotely funny.

The name of this film is actually a very straightforward description of what it's about. However, for detractors of this genre of music to dismiss this extremely compelling and eye-opening documentary simply because they do not like the sound of screeching guitars and pounding drums would be close-minded and unfortunate.

Directors Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi of the underground, counter-culture magazine VICE chronicle both their own epic journey to meet with the members of the Baghdad-based rockers Acrassicauda (the Latin name for the deadly black scorpion native to Iraq and Kuwait). They also depict the struggles of the individual musicians in the country's only heavy metal band.

The filmmakers had been corresponding with the musicians sporadically since 2003 but only met face to face in 2006 when they were finally able to get to Iraq and track them down.

Moretti and Alvi employ archival footage (the band has only been able to do four shows in five years) to compliment their own material as they depict life during wartime through the eyes of these passionate young musicians.

Struggle, hope and perseverance are the ultimate themes of the film, and the documentary is a truly revelatory look into the everyday realities of life for a particular group of average Iraqi civilians that is unlike anything depicted in the mainstream media.

It is hard enough to start a rock group anywhere and become successful but to do it in war torn Baghdad, literally under fire, and to be told what the group can and cannot do by the pro-Saddam regime takes drive, spirit and energy.

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