Review Summary: After being embraced for their terrific story of perseverance, ex-Iraqi metal band Acrassicauda can finally be lauded for something else- their formidable metal chops.
It's always nice when beautiful stories come together full-circle. First profiled in the documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad
a couple years back, Acrassicauda is an Iraqi metal act that survived Saddam, the American invasion and insurgency only to finally get out and settle in Istanbul. From this background of war and fire comes the alternatively fiery and morose Only the Dead See the End of the War
The four songs fall into roles. The into and outro tracks "The Unknown" and "Massacre," are much the same embracing a metalcore-progressive hybrid with shifting tones, styles and moods. "The Unknown" is more driving and harsh- if combines the galloping drums of 1980's Metallica with some pure blasts of sound more at home with the latest Fear Factory
release. However, it does quiet down and we get to hear the lead vocalist Faisal rip into some positively demonic lyricism. The verses are bridged well with double bass and machine gun lyrics- altogether an immensely mature song for a band with no full albums to its credit.
"Message from Baghdad" is a Trivium
song, simple as that. However, I rather liked it more than when Trivium does it. The riffs were closer packed, the vocals melded better, and the deeper drums got some force behind the drive of this firebrand of a song.
"Garden of Stones" and "Massacre" is where the theme of the album is kept- death, and the spirit world. "Garden," the single off of this EP, is both their bleakest and most creative work. The vocals are deep and far-off, ghostly. In addition there are some notable experiments with metal form- a guitar solo that replicates the piercing sound of traditional Middle Eastern string instruments, and then a bombs-away finish complete with tribal drumming overlaying the normal band sound.
"Massacre" finishes with an ethereal air, though long vocal interludes and a droning sound make it feel a bit too traditional a finish- plenty of bands in the genre do the same. However, Faisal comes up big again with some chilling vocals- the lyrics are standard, if heartfelt dialogues on war and pain, but the tones he hits are sublime.
This is a professional, precise work by a band with drive and vision. Their story may be astonishing, but do not let that detract from their music; they have produced a mature work with many unique elements.
EDIT: Made longer.