Introduction To Patagonian Heavy Metal Part 2

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(This article was written by Professor Guanaco. Professor Guanaco is a linguistic anthropologist studying Patagonian music. You can follow her work on Instagram.)

For a city of only 32,000 people, Esquel has a pretty significant heavy music scene. Heavy metal first came to Esquel in the 1980s, with the first metal recital held in 1990. The city’s first metal band, Excequias, was heavily influenced by hardcore punk. Since then, many other punk and metal bands have emerged, including Lobötomia, Dosxuno, Hanta, and Helicer.

Esquel is also home to the Patagonian metal zine Leed Mortales and metal radio programs such as Tierra de Gigantes and Por el Metal. In addition, metal bands from across Patagonia have traveled to Esquel to record their albums at recording studio Estudio Patagón since 2006. The owners of this studio are behind many metal-related initiatives in Esquel, including the Rock in Mapu festival that brought Patagonian rock and metal bands to the city for many years.

The Esquel band Arqueano was formed in 2017, but it was just last month that the band released their first EP, Naúfrago. Náufrago is very much a hometown project. The band is composed of some of the earliest members of Esquel’s metal and rock scene, and was recorded in Estudio Patagón, which is operated by the band’s bassist, Lito Calfunao (alongside his wife Mara Argañaraz).

For many listeners, the band’s sound will recall American and British rock and metal of the 70s and 80s, but their work remains strongly grounded in local influences. Náufrago begins with the track “Profetas de Mentiras.” The opening guitar riff lets you know immediately what to expect: a classic, no frills sound drawing on influences such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Whitesnake. At a concert I attended last month, lead singer Gabriel Martin gave a shout out to corrupt politicians as being the inspiration for this track. While the specific politicians that Gabriel and I were picturing were undoubtedly different, the general anti-politician sentiment certainly crossed any cultural barriers.

Next up on the album is “Náufrago.” This track has a slow, melodic start that highlights guitarist Omar Yagüe’s distinct style of playing. The third track, “Solitario Andar,” is my personal favorite on the album. This song has a groovy opening riff great for headbanging, and the chorus is catchy and fun to sing along with. The album closes with the track “Un Nuevo Despertar.” Ending on this uplifting track leaves the album with an ultimately hopeful feel despite many pessimistic moments throughout.

Overall, this album is a good introduction to Esquel’s first generation of rock and metal influences. In upcoming posts, I’ll be digging into some more extreme metal projects emerging from the region in recent years.

Listen to Arqueano on Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/album/1bIXnq2ukHbQaKGEvLOrGZ?si=MuKdNfGFTPKFU_YAA_8QN

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