Acrassicauda: Heavy-Metal Refugees

Band photo of Acrassicuada

Acrassicauda members: Firas Al-Lateef, bassist; Tony Azziz, guitarist; Marwan Reyad, drummer; Faisal Talal, lead singer. Courtesy of Acrassicuada hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Acrassicuada

Songs from Acrassicauda

The story of Acrassicauda, latin for "black scorpion," began with the high school friendship of four young men in Iraq whose fascination with American rock music led them to form their own band.

Inspired in part by the 1990s Grammy-award winning megaband Metallica, the Iraqi men became famous, and infamous, for daring to infuse their native land with a culturally foreign sound known to Americans as "heavy metal."

The group now lives in Damascus, Syria, where the men are among more than 1.2 million Iraqis seeking refuge from a war-torn nation.

Suroosh Alvi is co-founder of VICE magazine. Alvi has spent the past few years filming Acrassicauda — first, as the band tried to pioneer a heavy metal scene in Baghdad, and then as it fled to Damascus.

Group members talk about their music and their journey as refugees. Alvi discusses his involvement in helping the artists find a new home in Syria.

Web material written and produced by Lee Hill.

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