The story begins with the boys from Vice magazine wishing to document the Metal scene in Iraq, as a series of Western-leaning locals were trying to put on a Metal show after the fall of Saddam. In 2003 things were bad, but looking like they’d be improving – the freedom to grow a bit of facial hair and rock out were on the minds of the band and their fans. A concert is organized, and while many hurdles need to be overcome, it finally comes to pass.
The film then continues to focus over the next several years, as the quality of life for these metalheads continues to deteriorate. American bombs destroy their rehearsal space, they are forced to dodge bullets simply walking among their city, and life gets harder and harder. Finally, they are forced to flee to neighboring Syria, where their life proves to be even more of a challenge.
The access that the filmmakers have, with their attitude of just go out and shoot, portrays a Baghdad that few who are not local have seen. These musicians are the prime candidates for what the neo-cons wanted out of the war, Western leaning individuals fully open to embracing American values in a post-Saddam Iraq. Instead, as we see their growing frustration and justified anger at the situation, we literally witness a growing despair over the years as these musicians are beaten down again and again, with a widening gap between their world and ours.
A haunting film, one that cuts through much of the rhetoric and provides a ground level view about just how fucked up things have got over there. Much more than a simple look at the band and their music, this is a compelling look at a modern-day existential crisis, perfect fodder for any Metal head to derive inspiration, if only they didn’t have all their equipment blown to shit.