Image: Acrassicauda
VBS.TV/VICE Films
Bassist Firas al-Lateef, left, drummer Marwan Riyadh, center, and singer-guitarist Faisal Talal of Iraqi rock band Arassicauda have been reunited in New Jersey.
msnbc.com and NBC News
updated 2/4/2009 10:51:21 AM ET 2009-02-04T15:51:21

One of Iraq's first heavy metal bands has been reunited in the United States after fleeing their homeland as refugees.

Members of Acrassicauda faced death threats in Iraq for playing Western rock music and went into hiding before spending two years exiled in Syria and Turkey.

Named after a type of scorpion, Acrassicauda began writing and playing heavy metal in 2001 after being inspired by bands including Metallica and Slayer.

Their story was chronicled in the 2007 documentary "Heavy Metal in Baghdad."

Drummer Marwan Riyadh, 24, arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday, where he was greeted by band mates Firas al-Lateef, 27, and Faisal Talal, 25. Fellow member Tony Aziz, 30, was visiting family in Detroit.

The New York Times reported that the group met idols Metallica on Sunday after a concert at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

'Write some good riffs'
James Hetfield, Metallica's lead singer, presented them with a guitar signed "Welcome to America."

"That's for keeping the faith. Write some good riffs," Hetfield reportedly told them.

The Times said the U.S. government has granted all four members of Acrassicauda refugee status, which allows them to apply for green cards in a year.

The non-profit International Rescue Committee has been working to resettle them in one location since last summer. They are now living in Elizabeth, N.J.

But after playing only three shows before the war began in 2003, Riyadh admitted they need to practice.

"We haven’t won any awards, but we have won our freedom,” Riyadh said.

WNBC's Brian Ries and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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