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by Chuck Eddy

January 21, 2014

Metal from Latin America

by Chuck Eddy  |  January 21, 2014

Metal has long been stereotyped as white working class music -- a truism that might hold weight in Great Britain and across much of Europe, but stretches the truth even in the U.S. (where bands as major as Slayer, Metallica, Morbid Angel, Deftones and The Mars Volta have all had members of Hispanic descent, and African American and Asian American musicians aren't that rare, either.) In Latin America and the Far East, two parts of the planet where metal caught on ages ago, the stereotype is obviously even less accurate. The latest evidence in the former region's case is a very good new debut album by Spanish-shrieking supergroup De La Tierra, comprising two guys from Latin American metal bands (guitarist Andreas Kisser of Sepultura and singer-guitarist Andrés Giménez of A.N.I.M.A.L.) and two from less metal-leaning but similarly longstanding rock en español outfits (drummer Alex González of Mexico's mega-popular Maná and bassist Sr. Flavio of Argentina's excellent Los Fabulosos Cadillacs).

This playlist demonstrates, though, that Latin American metal is far from a new thing. Max Cavalera's Brazilian-born bands Sepultura and Soulfly, both known for incorporating indigenous local sounds into their extreme thrash/death/groove/alt-metal mix, are probably the closest to household names here. But several others -- for instance, Huinca from Chile and Puya from Puerto Rico -- are also known to work in Afro-Caribbean percussion or Latin folk rhythms. And many -- notably Brazilian prog-power bunch Angra, Brazilian hardcore/thrash crossover crew Ratos De Porão, Argentinan trad/power gang Rata Blanca, and Venezuelan power-thrashers Arkangel -- have been around for decades, since the '80s or early '90s. Lula Côrtes E Zé Ramalho recorded their heavy Brazilian acid-rock psych even earlier than that, in the mid-'70s.

Seven more Argentinan bands make the playlist: Los Natas, Hermetica, Almafuerte, Tren Loco, Horcas, Riff, El Reloj, the aforementioned A.N.I.M.A.L. As do Venezuela's Laberinto, Colombia's Kraken, and five from Mexico: The Chasm, Transmetal, Hacavitz, Resorté and La Castañeda -- the latter representing the heavier end of the mid-'90s rock en español boom, as do the Chilean/Brazilian/German trio Niños Con Bombas. But really, nearly all of these bands count as rock en español, in a way -- except perhaps the ones who scream in Portuguese.

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