CATEGORIES Video
Like their English-speaking metalhead counterparts, the members of the Iraqi heavy metal band 'Acrassicauda' proudly have an affinity for the likes of 'Metallica,' 'Slayer' and 'Mayhem,' and they fully embrace the anti-establishment ethos of the metal subculture.

They don't do so because of middle-class ennui or as a reaction to privilege, however; they do so as a way to channel the horror and chaos they witness on a daily basis in their native war-torn Iraq. The story of Iraq's only heavy metal band is told in the documentary 'Heavy Metal in Baghdad,' and it's our free movie pick of the day. Like their English-speaking metalhead counterparts, the members of the Iraqi heavy metal band 'Acrassicauda' proudly have an affinity for the likes of 'Metallica,' 'Slayer' and 'Mayhem,' and they fully embrace the anti-establishment ethos of the metal subculture.

They don't do so because of middle-class ennui or as a reaction to privilege, however; they do so as a way to channel the horror and chaos they witness on a daily basis in their native war-torn Iraq. The story of Iraq's only heavy metal band is told in the documentary 'Heavy Metal in Baghdad,' and it's our free movie pick of the day.

For the young men in this documentary, music is a risky proposition. Iraq is a place where sporting a band T-shirt or long hair can be dangerous. Even headbanging, metal's universal sign of appreciation, is forbidden because it closely resembles a frowned-upon form of Hebrew religious expression. For the members of this band, whose name comes from the Latin for "black scorpion," rock is literally a matter of life or death.

As a whole, 'Heavy Metal in Baghdad' is unremittingly grim, and is just as much the story of its directors, Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi, as they brave rogue policeman and potential sniper fire to capture the story of the band.

For a three year period, the makers of the documentary trace the progress of the group and document the bombing of their practice space, the prejudice they encounter against their music, which is deemed satanic, and their lives of constant paranoia and fear. Even the thrill of recording their very first demos in a small single-track studio is tempered by the fact the band is forced to sell their equipment six months later to pay rent.

Eventually, the band members flee Iraq and take a 16-hour bus trip to Syria with the hope of a better life and a place to freely make music, but deplorably low wages, anti-Iraqi sentiment, and a concerted effort by the Syrian government to deport Iraqi refugees means life is no better. A happy ending to the documentary is nowhere to be found, for sure, but it remains uplifting at any rate because of its portrayal of musicians and filmmakers willing to risk everything for the passion that drives them.

Watch 'Heavy Metal in Baghdad' now on SlashControl!