Known to many as the Iraqi Metal Band, or that band from the documentary “Heavy Metal in Baghdad”, Acrassicauda is a Thrash/Death Metal band based out of Baghdad, but currently living in the U.S. in order to get their Green Card and be able to do what they love to do, how they wanna do it. And that my friends is exactly what they did with their release of their debut EP “Only the Dead See the End of the War” produced by Alex Skolnick of Testament. The EP was released earlier this year and contains 4 amazing tracks that feel the influences of Testament, Metallica, Slayer, etc. many of their Thrash Metal heroes. I have had the opportunity to get my hands on this EP and I must say it is very intriguing indeed. Acrassicauda consists of four members (Faisal Talal – Vocals/Guitar, Tony Aziz – Lead guitar, Firas Al-Lateef – Bass, and Marwan Riyadh – Drums). Starting off they had to follow a few rules:
- They had to compose a song praising Saddam Hussein. (“The Youth of Iraq”)
- They could not head bang (it resembled the motion Jewish people use during prayer)
- They could not promote themselves as a Heavy Metal band so they would promote shows as Rock Shows.
Now as you might notice these aren’t exactly rules you would want to follow throughout your career so one by one they headed their way to the U.S. Upon their arrival they were invited backstage at a Metallica concert and given one of James Hetfield’s black ESP guitars, and were told to shred their hearts out on that guitar. On it James signed “Welcome to America”. While this guitar wasn’t used in the tracking of the EP they plan on using it on future albums to come.
OTDSTEOTW sees many changes throughout, the start off track “Message From Baghdad” I feel might be the weakest track on the album. That being said it is still a great song both musically and lyrically, I just have trouble placing it in the same line up with the other three songs. Though the more I listen to it the more it grows on me, my thoughts are maybe it shouldn’t have been the opening track on the EP? Very powerful though with some catchy guitar work and double bass that just makes you want to headbang.
Next, is their first single “Garden of Stones” you can view the video below. Starting with this song they begin to remind me of a much more matured Trivium especially in the vocals. Toward the end of the song there is this amazing guitar solo followed with what seems to be a tribal sounding drum pattern and backing prayer chants of some sort, very awesome a little reminiscent of Orphaned Land.
“Massacre” starts out very driven, then they slow it down for a bit with a little Iraqi lyrics thrown in, all to pick it back up to tear your face off. The instrumentation on this song as well as the whole album is here to make you do one thing, and one thing only. . Bang your head! Faisal combines his vocal styles in this one both his Trivium-esque and his unique growling style voice, makes for a great combo, especially when he shouts “one sent to the death” which leads into this epic solo, would be amazing to watch live.
The closing track “The Unknown” is probably one of my favorite songs on the album. To me this is their strongest song and it incorporates all things that are Acrassicauda, great guitar work, some of the best drumming on the EP and they end it in the best possible way. A 2 1/2 min instrumental outro which I would like to call a ‘headbangers delight’ because that is exactly what you want to do, they slow it down a little and just when you think its over they pick it back up a little faster and then slow it right back down again til the end.
All in all this is a great debut album even if it is only four songs, I know they have plenty more drive in them to write what could be some of the greatest thrash/death metal music we have heard in a long time. I urge you to pick up this album, whether it be online, in stores, or if we are lucky straight from them while they are on tour. It has its up’s and down’s but for the most part it is a very solid album. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in the future (4/5)
Recommended if you like (Testament, Metallica, Trivium)
Purchase ‘Only the Dead See the End of the War’ EP here
Garden of Stones video: