Acrassicauda – Garden of Stones
Acrassicauda is an Iraqi Heavy metal band formed in 2001. It is often credited as being the first heavy metal group to emerge from Iraq. The original band consisted of three Arab members and one Assyrian (Tony Aziz Yaqoo). The band formed and played concerts under the regime of Saddam Hussein. It became well known outside of the local Iraqi metal scene after Vice magazine did a profile of the band. It received even greater coverage when it was profiled in a feature-length documentary about the band and its troubles in Iraq called Heavy Metal in Baghdad. The band’s first album was released on March 9, 2010.
Because of its increased fame after the Iraqi regime change, the band started to receive death threats from Islamic militants who thought that the band was worshiping Satan. Due to this and the increasing violence in Baghdad the members of the band fled first to Syria and then Turkey before being granted refugee status in the United States of America. Most of the band settled in New Jersey, but Tony Aziz decided to live with family in Michigan, before moving to Richmond, Virginia. They now reside in Brooklyn, New York.
After applying for asylum, the United States government granted the band refugee status, which allows it to apply for green cards after one year. Tony, Faisal, and Firas went first.Tony went to Michigan to handle some family business and started living there. Faisal and Firas settled into their new lives in New Jersey. A humanitarian relief and refugee resettlement agency, International Rescue Committee, placed them in an apartment in the town of Elizabeth. Then, in the early morning hours of January 30, 2009, Marwan arrived. On the band’s second day in the United States, they were able to watch Metallica at the Prudential Center in Newark. Each band member met the group backstage and James Hetfield, Metallica’s lead singer, presented the band members with one of his guitars, a black ESP, after signing it Welcome to America. The Metallica concert was the band’s second-ever stadium concert the first being the band Testament, which the band saw a few months earlier in Turkey.
The band’s first officially released album, Only the Dead See the End of the War, is a four-song EP Released on Vice Records on March 9, 2010. It was produced by Alex Skolnick of Testament at Spin Studio in Astoria, Queens. Acrassicauda followed the release up with a performance with Cannibal Corpse, Voivod, and other metal bands at the Scion Rock Fest in Columbus, Ohio, on March 13.
In July 2011, Acrassicauda embarked on its 2011 “Make it or Break it” inaugural national tour. Guitarist Muhammed Al Ansari joined the band for the tour and continued with the band thereafter. Following the tour, Tony Aziz left the band, “due to family issues”, and returned to Virginia. Additional guitarist Marwan Grada joined the band in 2012.
In 2012, the band opened for Ministry, with lead vocalist Al Jourgensen stating that Acrassicauda was his favorite band.
In 2013, the band’s “We’re Not Gonna Stop” tour commenced.
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