True Rock of Ages

Two Middle Eastern bands flee danger and find refuge in NYC.

January 7, 2011

Acrassicauda: (clockwise, from top left) Tony Yaqoo, Marwan Hussein, Faisal Mustafa and Firas Allateef. (Photo by Derek Lieu)

With the era of punk as provocateur of the bourgeoisie long gone, bands that loudly tout equality and condemn “The Man” from the bowels of American suburban garages don’t exactly scream subversion.

But pan over to Iraq, where metal musicians can’t headbang due to a perceived similarity to Jewish prayer movements, where rehearsal spaces have been bombed and musicians are called Satan worshippers by religious fundamentalists.

Or pan to Iran, where playing Western rock music can get musicians arrested or even publicly flogged.

Acrassicauda, hailed as the first heavy metal band from Iraq, and Hypernova, known as the premier rock band out of Iran, embody the true nature of what it is to be rock, to stay true to one’s art no matter what the circumstances. Both bands were inspired by black market American music (which is why both currently sing in English) and both have found refuge in New York City. They are fortunate enough to finally have a place for their creative expression.


This was a preview of The Throwback Issue. To read the full story, subscribe to Hyphen or pick up a copy at a newsstand near you.


Magazine Section: