Introduction To Patagonian Heavy Metal
Come 2 Patagonia.
(This article was written by Professor Guanaco. Professor Guanaco is a linguistic anthropologist studying Patagonian music. You can follow her work on Instagram.)
If you live in the northern hemisphere (or really most places in the world), you could be forgiven for never having listened to any heavy metal from Argentina’s Patagonia region. While Argentina has one of the biggest metal scenes in South America, most of the music known internationally comes from the country’s more urbanized north, centered in the capital of Buenos Aires.
The Patagonia region at the southernmost part of the continent remains largely ignored, not only internationally but within Argentina itself. One reason for this is that Patagonia is simply so far away from everything else. Huge distances, lack of infrastructure, and limited economic resources make it difficult for bands to record and distribute albums and travel to promote their music outside of local contexts.
Despite these challenges, Patagonia has developed a small but thriving metal scene. The earliest metal bands in the region appeared in the 1990s, influenced by foundational bands of Argentine metal pesado nacional such as Hermética and Alma Fuerte. From there, Patagonian musicians took up the genre and adapted it to create their own unique style influenced by the realities of life in the southernmost post of the world. Today, metal bands of all genres exist in Patagonia. From the classic heavy metal of Comodoro Rivadavia’s Werken to the black metal of Bariloche’s Anouk, Patagonia has a lot to offer metal fans worldwide. In this series, I am going to bring to your attention some important Patagonian metal albums
from the past 30 years.
Formed in the city of Comodoro Rivadavia in 1997, Razzia plays thrash metal with lyrics rich in
references to local history and landscapes. Their second full-length Siguiendo la huella is a formidable album featuring dynamic guitars, galloping drums, and harsh vocals. Opening track “Danzas macabras” kicks the album off to an aggressive start, with appropriately danceable riffs backing the vocalist’s call for his listeners to rise to action.
The other tracks are equally gripping, featuring frequent guitar solos as well as cool outros that add a final twist. The songs are catchy, too. I’ve had the guitar solo from the middle of “El rastro del choique” stuck in my head for the past week. Most of the album is pretty full throttle, but when the band does dial back the intensity, they do so to great effect. “Anunciando el final,” my personal favorite on the album, starts off heavy before the aggression dissolves away to make room for several beautiful guitar solos. The track then slowly builds back up via the bridge, with spoken vocals ramping up to erupt in a furiously shouted climax. Epic.
Lyrically, “Kompuchewe” is the stand out. This track, whose title means “place of all of the people” in the language of the Indigenous Mapuche people, describes the deconstruction of Patagonia’s colonial legacy and the writing of a new Patagonian history through the renaming of the central plaza in the band’s hometown. At a moment when the Argentine state continues to criminalize and erase Mapuche communities, this track has clear local importance, but I think it also speaks to communities worldwide struggling to deal with their own colonial pasts. Listen to Siguiendo la huella on Spotify or YouTube and follow them on Instagram.