Last time we checked in with Acrassicauda, the subject of 2007’s Heavy Metal in Baghdad, the Iraqi band had successfully fled Iraq for Syria. They’ve come a long way since then, culminating in last night’s performance at dingy Brooklyn bar/venue The Charleston. The performance, for friends and family only, was the band’s first-ever performance in North America and their first show in two years. You can’t really blame the band for their inactivity, given that they’ve moved from Syria, to Turkey (where they played their last show) and finally to America. With an EP coming out in March on Vice Records and a show booked at this year’s Scion Rock Fest, the quartet’s return to live music was a triumphant one.
While having a documentary made about your passion and belief in metal where you could literally die for it for it is a phenomenal achievement in and of itself, the next stage of Acrassicauda’s evolution happened in Turkey. Not only did they see their first ever arena show, Testament, they also met lead guitarist, Alex Skolnik. When they finally made it to America, Skolnick took the band under his wing, serving as a mentor and producing the forthcoming EP, Only the Dead See the End of the War. Skolnick was among those showing support for the band, and like a proud father, he had reason to cheer on the band. Mixing elements of ’80s American thrash and metal through a subtle middle eastern filter, Acrassicauda’s first show in North America showed how much better they’ve gotten as a band since they were in Iraq.
Acrassicauda showed plenty of promise. Technical problems aside, the music had many in the capacity room throwing horns and nodding heads. At its worst, the band sounded like a solid local band, not one that made it to a stage in New York under almost insurmountable odds. But when their musicianship and songwriting really gelled, particularly on songs like “Garden of Stones,” it proved their journey was well worth it.
Look for some more shows in the New York area in February, to be followed by their performance at the Scion Rock Fest in Columbus OH on March 13. Only the Dead See the End of the War will be out in March.