Filming a documentary on the streets of Baghdad is no easy task. For the producers of "Heavy Metal in Baghdad," a new Vice film about Iraq's only metal band, it meant smuggling themselves into the country, shelling out thousands for security, and constant disorder. But for the members of Acrassicauda, the band those filmmakers set out to find, chaos is a way of life. To get to practice, the group must navigate roadblocks, curfews and death threats. To power their amps, they use gas generators. They play shows in the midst of power outages and mortar rounds. Eventually, their practice space is blown up, sparing their lives but destroying all their equipment.
The film, which comes out on DVD next month, is also a tale of the thwarted possibilities for Iraq's youth. The band's four members are educated and Westernized, and though they're intensely loyal to Iraq, they yearn for a place where wearing a Slip Knot shirt won't get you killed. Playing heavy metal in a Muslim country has never been easy, but there was a brief moment—between Saddam Hussein's fall and the chaos that ensued—in which the band, like many Iraqis, hoped real change would come. Now the young musicians are just struggling to stay together and alive. Whether you love or hate heavy metal, their story will rock you.