Let’s celebrate Venezuela Independence Day
Yes! Now is the turn of Venezuela to celebrate (Like if we don’t have enough reasons to get lazy in one of the 9358935890 holidays in our calendar). Stab here for Venezuelan goodness.
Warning: This post is long and full of terrors (and merol).
Joe and company were euphoric this Friday with the pre-fifth of July celebrations. Fireworks, fat stereotypes and beer included, the Toilet ov Hell celebration of United States Independence Day can be described in just one word: lazy. You all deserve it, of course: according to statistics, 42 % of the workers in the US didn’t take a vacation last year *gulp*.
Leave them resting for a while; or better… “COME TO VENEZUELA \m/”.
Since we are celebrating our Independence Day in 5th July, I prepared this post for you, to share tunes on this forgotten country.
I know that the Venezuela music scene can be very plain sometimes, but join with me in this quest of one music pick per each genre. We will cross jungles, mountains, beaches and filthy city; we will encounter the beautiful, the macabre, and the magical-realism. You will understand why we are such an amazing yet sad country at the same time. We are the lands of the contrasts, of the eternal happiness and the eternal sorrow. We have it all, yet we have nothing.
In this post, I will compile music that in some parts of the compositions encapsulate something about modern Venezuelan culture.
Our first stop is traditional heavy metal. Let’s discover the roots.
Born in 1977, Resistencia was one of the first heavy metal bands in the country and the south subcontinent.
Channeling the Deep Purple wails with the Maiden/Priest/Sabbath trinity phrasing, and with singing entirely in Spanish, these true warriors paved the way to the strong sound in our music. The lyrical content is inspired by traditional legends, religious tales and rebellion; but the phrasing is heavily influenced by the local poets. Mystical lines of words are twisted and churned by the great César Somoza and with the grandeur of the guitar style of Rodrigo Yoma (RIP) they pack and resume the ancient mystique of these lands. Here is Tierra Prometida, from the record Dacapo (1984).
Let’s go with some Power Metal!
This genre has strong representations around here. Still cheesy sometimes and bombarded by multiple bands, one controversial figure stands in the midst of a pile of posers with his unique style of mixing local tales along a bombastic speedy sound: Paul Gillman (ex-Arkángel, the companions of Resistencia in the pioneering of the genre).
Gillman is probably the most known figure of Metal in the country, mostly because his flirts with National TV in the 80s with some pop-rock singles and his open support for Chávez and the regime politics (see this for more iugh and this for even more iugh).
Sadly, most metalheads around here forget that he really delivered good metal when he resurged in the 90s with his album Escalofrío, a concept album about the local horror tales. Speedy passages, influenced by the Painkiller album, are around the gritty voice of Gillman. Cool stuff.
Check El Silbón, a song about a patricidal ghastly skeletal figure that haunts in the month of May on the Llanos region and sucks the souls of his victims:
Move, move! We need to cover a lot of stuff.
Let the fumes of deep inside the jungle absorb you and crush your weak human presence. We are now becoming one with our nature in the Sludge and Doom territory; and the awesome Cultura Tres will be our guides into the deepest foliage of our mind and culture.
This is one of the best bands of the last decade. Slow tempos that crush souls and the truth opener lyrics break our wills. Emotive, yet heartrending, our boys of Cultura Tres channel the spirit of Alice in Chains with the NOLA scene very well, injecting with a cocktail of their own Venezuelan flavor.
Watch our jungles die with La Selva se Muere:
Let’s go moving with heart light for a while. And taste a little of pop-rock, to clean our clothes from our jungle trip.
Malanga was always one of the favorite radio bands in the country, and I think they really did a great job with their compositions, because the only thing we have in our radios is homogeneous popular music (“urban” or whatever that crap is, ballads, salsa, Colombian folk and, of course, stupid reggaeton) and nothing else.
Malanga compositions are very inspired by vocal pop, yet still they paste some rocky riffs around, inspired by Mexican pop-rock band Maná.
Check this hit, while chugging a Solera beer with your Venezuelan Bros!
Once again in the metal train, we’re going to spend a night with our smelly friends of Grindcore.
A lot of grindheads here dig the ‘slammy’ vomit inducing pig squeal vocals, but the bands of this style in the country just come and go very fast. Recently, Muestra de Heces are fighting among the carcasses of the grindcore bunch with good pace, and showing the miseries of our country with a mix of crusty grind. Good stuff for Tyree fans, or grind fans, or stuff that Tyree likes, you know…
Let’s talk about Cárceles Venezolanas:
SMOKE WEED ERRYDAY!
Ok… I don’t smoke weed, but I like stoner merol, ok?
Chalana is one of the few bands around here that embody the desert fuzzy Dagon approved genre. Good stuff, alike of Fu Manchu, Kyuss, Orange Goblin, Spiritual Beggars and Venezuelan alternative rock from the 90s.
The varied vocals compliment in a good way the rumbling bass; sometimes you have cleans or growls. The band is not afraid to add some rock hooks in the mix, and some songs of their only album (named Chalana) have great riffs, attitude and solos.
Listen to their album in their Youtube channel and, if you liked it, doomload it in the Mediafire folder shared in the description of the videos.
Since people here in the country love to party and swear a lot: ¡A Reventar!
If you dug the night with the smelly grindcore friends, wait for the black merol one. These ones are warriors of the shadows and fighters of old traditions.
Sadly, most of the bands here try to copy so hard the Norwegian pioneers that it’s very tiresome to listen to them, to be honest. But one band is very representative of what the conservative and ancestry revival mindset of a lot of black merol scenes, that one is Odosha.
Odosha is an extreme merol entity inspired by nature, shamanistic rituals and our prehispanic traditions. You will channel here all the rage and the blood spilled in the colonial times, so beware of the drum wars and prepare your curare venom and your indigenous encyclopedia.
Sometimes melodic, sometimes blasty, Odosha is a force to be feared. Prepare to sacrifice some Venezuelans and implore the elements for a better future in this Solsticio Ritual:
I never understood Nü-Metal, but I know that Candy66 is one of the greatest bands in our country.
With a career more akin to Deftones than Limp Bizkit or KoRn, because the alternative and groove elements in their sound, this band is influence for a lot of agro oriented bands.
Even when I don’t dig them because the style choice, I really respect their career for improving a lot their skills and making music with positive values to a scene wrongly engulfed in alcohol & drugs stereotype. Props to Candy66 for fight against the circumstances on their long career.
Check Bandera, from the lauded album A+:
Alternative Rock is huge around here, so let’s visit our hipster friends for a while.
Last decade on rock and merol music in Venezuela is strong represented by alt-rock. Sadly a lot of bands are doing the same music over and over again with the same vocals and the same “experimental guitars” with the always prepotent attitude, of course. We call that “El Síndrome de las Banditas Caraqueñas” (Caracas Little Bands Syndrome).
Why this happened?
Because in the 90s all the scene gravitated around alt-rock, and alt-rock in that was really good. We had Sentimiento Muerto gaining constant radio play with their mix of urban Venezuelan post-punk, Zapato 3 with their sexy rock style and later Dermis Tatú twisting the genre with a more grungy approach. Suddenly, all the bands in the 2000 tried to resurrect the genre, but it wasn’t the same, they weren’t kicking the streets, they were just a lot of middle class kids talking nonsense that even they didn’t understood.
In this mountain of poser corpses the guys from VINILOVERSUS are kicking all the trashcans and spitting the sidewalks with their rock attitude. Formed in Caracas, they aren’t afraid to throw alternative, grunge, rock and pop in one single kickass package. I saw them live with Mrs. Leonhart and they destroyed all, great attitude, very humble guys with a lot of merits from their hardworking attitude.
Their last album is my favorite Venezuelan release. The bass team cements the base of their impressive overall sound. Check them throwing the Yunque in your head:
Did you enjoy the party with our VINILOVERSUS panas? (Panas means pals/dudes in Venezuelan).
Let’s break some bones into Death Merol, then!
This time, we will talk about one of the oldest bands of this style in the country: the guys from Krueger (Not related to Brazilian Krueger).
With nasty sounds, inspired by the evil swamps of Florida death merol tunes and the Brujería satanic druglords maniacs, Krueger got famous with their filthy tales of sex, gore and perversion.
High paralyzing shrieks and raspy gutturals from the Bondage Master Carlos Sánchez are still resonating in the scene, remembering all the posers that the Krueger machine is still destroying their brains. The sound sometimes is goregrind, sometimes is death, and sometimes is plain heavy. In the end, your ears have been pummeled by the mighty Krueger.
Birongo is definitely one of their best songs, talking about homicide and sex in a mystical santería way in a decadent town. The percussive elements really set the mood:
Hey, wait! Don’t wash your crusty clothes. We’re moving into Thrash zone!
Thrash and Death are conjured into the music of my favorite band from the crappy neighborhood of my hometown; we’re talking here about Korpus Inc.
Inspired by Kreator and the wild animals that they spawned, our bad boys (and girl) from Korpus Inc. destroyed our state over and over again in the live shows. Since a couple of years they entered in hiatus, but I know that the machinery is back again, so I’m a happy Link because of that.
In their last EP they moved into a more melodic territory, without losing their power. Some riffs are glued to the blast sections which made a very good combination, to me. If this isn’t your tastes, you can try with their older records which are more aggressive.
Realize your place in this world with Vidas Vacías:
I told you not to wash your clothes!
Let’s move to Maracaibo to visit our friends of Novarmada!
Representing the ‘core-ish’ flag with a mix of Thrash, these guys were one of the favorites on the powerful hardcore scene in the city. Inspired by Metallica, Mastodon, The Haunted and At the Gates, Novarmada released once album called Colateral; a bunch of songs in which the aggression, the attitude and the high rampant energy are at your command.
Sadly, they’re in hiatus because all the members are living in other countries. But it seems they have hopes for a reunion and, according to the last chat I had with my friend Julio (Bass) they have music and demos nearly done after they traveled. I’m crossing fingers.
This is closest you can get of hanging with us in an old Waggoner and drinking beer around blasting merol. Enjoy Energía Pura Corre; and doomload their album for free if you like:
Ok, you can wash your clothes now. Well, no… Better leave them crusty.
Now, this is real Maracaibo hardcore punk; think of Suicidal Tendencies in a third world country full of trash and bad politics:
Frente de Ira are a powerhouse; channeling rapping style lyrics in their urban vibes and Hispanic uplifting attitude.
They really inspire me to gain a sense of owning of my culture and country, so they really fight for a good cause with their chugs chugs chugs and aggressive outtake.
THROW YOUR FISTS UPON THE HAIR, WINDMILL KICK EVERYONE AND CHUG CHUG CHUG WITH US IN OUR SOUTH AMERICAN PRIDE BROTHERHOOD!
They released their last album in December 2014, so check’em out!
We’re finishing. Now you can wash your crust (yeah, you can do it! No worries).
Put your Victorian attire, because we’re going gothic here.
Inspired by Therion, Haggard, Dimmu Borgir and the good early days of symphonic dark merol bands, Nota Profana made a great mix of these elements with their unique style. Their leader, Carlos Mosquera, is a talented musician and composer (playing percussion in the best Venezuelan orchestra) that put together the only merol band in our country with an added orchestra.
Gothic medieval tunes are embraced in a humid castle. I saw them live and they delivered one of the best merol shows I’ve ever saw. With their new lead vocalist, the awesome Gaby Koss (ex-Haggard, ex-Equilibrium, now in Diskelion) they released The Devil’s Playground in 2013; a concept record with their style of multiple mixes with a more cinematic approach.
Check The Lake (beware not to fall into the water!):
Now, let’s get drowned into Post-Rock.
There’s a healthy dose of these bands in our country, all with good approach on the genre, but the one that really speaks to me is Días de Septiembre.
Melancholy and expression are constant resonating between the dynamic directions of their songs; while sometimes atypical in the genre, there are some scattered vocals in their best album: Terminal; this, along the incorporation of keyboards and moody guitars made this a colorful experience to enjoy.
If you dig this, please check them in their Bandcamp and doomload their stuff in Name Your Price mode. They deserve your listen.
Weedlies and Birudilis? Gotcha!
I present to you Felix Martin, our shreddy pal with his 89748932 x 2 string instrument.
Good fella that make an awesome fusion of progressive metal, check him making his Birudilis magic with mathematic precision:
Let’s continue into jazzy approach.
Vytas Brenner is in our pantheon of extremely cool musicians. He made a group named Ofrenda with which he created impressive compositions full of colors, inspired by the legendary progressive rock pioneers. What’s cool about Vytas, can you ask?
His unique blend of folkloric music, inspired by nature and the sparkling mixed culture of our country.
Vytas Brenner really spoke to us in a way that lastest The Beatles, Yes, Genesis or King Crimson never did. He was, and still is, our voice in the progressive music:
May your soul rest in peace in the mist of the nature, Vytas:
Do you like Industrial music?
Our masked friend Zardonic is your response.
The aggressive style of this artist is heavily inspired by black merol (he even made an album of black merol remixes), so it would be of the pleasantness of some of our fellow members of this community.
You can really imagine people dancing inside cages in a goth club with this dangerous music:
Our trip is ending, hope you had a blast visiting our country. So I give to you one of our most precious gifts, folkloric music.
The folk approach varies a lot depending on the region; since we are a mix of different races (indigenous, African and Spanish) we can really say that Venezuelan, in the cultural aspect, is fractioned.
In Los Llanos you have joropos and tonadas; music inspired by the cowboy-like lifestyle of the zone. Simón Díaz (RIP) is one of the most known artists of our country, and he inspired in the mid XX century to rescue the folk music. This is my favorite piece of the Tío Simón, goosebumps included (like we all said to him with dear respect):
In Oriente, you have mandolin lead melodic music. The most well-known music is the Galerón. Very fun music and the festivals are awesome because you eat a lot of seafood empanadas and they made these contests of rhymes fights:
In Los Andes we have this danceable violin andino music in which the old people like to dance in a very funny way:
From our African heritage we have Tambor which is linked a lot with the Venezuelan-African culture; it’s very popular in the beaches on the center region of the country:
And in Maracaibo we have Gaitas (which I don’t like, but what the hell…), heavily rotated in local radios since October because it’s the typical Christmas music:
And Tropical music, a form of a dance mix of guaracha very typical around here and still popular. I can dig this one because it remembers me of my dad because he loves that stuff:
So… That’s all for now!
Did you enjoy this post? Do you like some of the songs posted here? Discuss it all in the comments below and celebrate with us our Venezuelan Independence Day!
Note: Cover image is a painting from artist Arturo Michelena about the Sign of the Act of Venezuelan Independence.