Acrassicauda: Only the Dead See the End of the War, in "Nothing Not New"

Artist: Acrassicauda

Title: Only the Dead See the End of the War
Release date: March 9
Label: Vice

I forget who said it (Ebert? Tarantino?) but someone once questioned whether a movie is really any better just because it's "based on a true story." Whomever said it was implying that no, it's usually not any better. 

Indeed, sometimes a fascinating backstory is enough to garner attention. Sadly, sometimes the backstory overshadows the end result. I have a feeling that's the case with Acrassicauda, who have come to be known as "Iraq's first heavy metal band."

Credit the underground media conglomerate Vice for latching onto Acrassicauda a few years ago, giving them worldwide exposure after years of performing one of the most Western forms of trash culture -- heavy metal -- in a land known for being extremely intolerant of such Western influences. Indeed, that this band of long-haired headbangers found away to survive during the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein is a pretty compelling story.

Well, now that Saddam is dead, their homeland (though all hurt-lockered to hell) is a "free country," and eight years of American occupation in Iraq has certainly opened up the Muslim nation to plenty of Western culture, it's time for Acrassicauda to deliver the goods. Otherwise, the band is simply another interesting backstory, destined to tour the U.S. with Anvil for the next half-decade.

This four-song EP seems like a fairly solid, if not instantly memorable, start. Musically, they pay tribute to Metallica with epic songs that switch from fast-to-slow and slow-to-fast with equal aplomb. The screaming guitar solos are pure hair metal, which is kind of endearing. To me, the guttural vocals are sort of comical, as if they're an approximation of what a bunch of kids in Iraq think metal vocals should sound like. Refreshingly, the lyrics are not political in nature -- though are several allusions to war and references to things this band has no doubt witnessed firsthand: blood, destruction, discrimination. What else would they sing about?

If you're a metal aficionado (which I'm not), check out Acrassicauda and let me know you think.

Best song: "Massacre"
Rotation: Low
Deja Vu: mid-period Metallica
I'd rather listen to: Anvil (not really)
Grade: C-

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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