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Acrassicauda Make North American Debut

For any other band, playing a show in the cramped basement of Brooklyn metal dive bar The Charleston would be just another night. For Acrassicauda, it was nothing less than revolutionary. The band’s first show in two years was also their North American debut, and the circumstances that brought them there were nothing less than extraordinary. The last we heard from the band, in 2007′s gripping documentary ‘Heavy Metal in Baghdad,’ they weren’t just trying to book gigs and play shows, they were struggling to survive.

While it’s tough to find a rehearsal space and deal with the egos involved when in a band, that’s nothing compared to what Acrassicauda had to go through to get to Brooklyn. ‘Heavy Metal in Baghdad’ showed the band being forced to cancel rehearsal on account of their practice space being bombed.

Wearing metal shirts in Iraq could have easily gotten them killed, since they resembled Westerners. And the band was even forced to write a pro-Saddam Hussein song when his regime still ruled. Eventually, the band was able to escape Iraq, ultimately winding up in America. With the ‘Only the Dead See the End of the War’ EP coming out on Vice in March and a high profile gig at March’s Scion Rock Fest coming up, the band did an admirable job of shaking off the cobwebs from their last show, which was in Turkey in 2008.

The packed show, full of friends and family, highlighted the promise Acrassicauda shows. Their sound, influenced by many of the Western bands they grew up worshiping, was rooted in the double kick drums and dual guitar sound of bands late-’80s thrash bands like Exodus and Sepultura with Faisal Talal’s vocals alternating between a growl and clean singing. Testament were another big influence for them, and guitarist Alex Skolnick, who has served as a mentor to the band and co-produced the EP, was among those on hand to cheer the band on.

The relatively tight 45-minute set had several technical difficulties and some pauses in between songs, but that’s to be expected from any band playing their first show in a while. And what Acrassicauda’s set might have lacked in polish, it more than made up for in passion. It was apparent from comparing the band playing a hotel in the documentary to the one playing a basement show in Brooklyn how far they’ve come — not just physically, but musically. Usually when a singer addresses the crowd saying, “It’s great to be here,” it’s a rock cliche. When Talal said it, it was gospel.

‘Only the Dead See the End of the War’ will be out on Vice Records in March, and the single, ‘Garden of Stone,’ is streaming on Vice’s Web site. Acrassicauda will be playing some more New York-area shows in February, then playing the Scion Rock Fest in Columbus, Ohio on March 13.

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