Mid-Year Round Up: 10 Notable South American Metal Albums


Hello everyone, Professor Guanaco here! We are halfway through 2024, and like usual, I find myself overwhelmed with the ever-growing list of new releases piling up in my playlists and google spreadsheets. So much great music, so little time. No doubt you already have your own lists of 2024 standouts that are in contention for end of year favorites, and many more that you haven’t quite gotten around to listening to yet.

A question for you, though. How much of the metal that you’ve listened to so far in 2024 has come from South America? This continent tends to be underrepresented in metal publications across the internet, despite there being so much incredible music from the region that is increasingly available worldwide. But never fear! I have compiled a list, from my not at all biased perspective, of 10 of the best, weirdest, and most notable South American metal albums of the first half of 2024. Read on to find your new favorite.

https://i0.wp.com/f4.bcbits.com/img/a1474287236_10.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Hagalma – Resistencia (Colombia, heavy/power)

I stumbled upon this album at the very beginning of the year, and immediately wanted to listen due to how cool the cover art was. And in this case, at least, judging an album by its cover did not lead me astray. Hailing from Ibagúe, Colombia, Hagalma creates an excellent heavy/power metal style with Spanish language lyrics. The band makes frequent use of sound effects—a practice that can easily cross the line between “cool” and “too much”—but they work well here and enhance the album’s atmosphere. The clean vocals are powerful and dynamic, and the riffs are commanding and catchy, adding up to an album with a decidedly operatic touch. If you are looking for something fast-paced and heavy, but with an ultimately uplifting sound, check this one out.

Azul Turquesa – Pusilânime (Brazil, black/doom)https://i0.wp.com/f4.bcbits.com/img/a1548597650_10.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1

This strange little EP came out in early January and left enough of an impression on me that I still think of it months later. The one-man project is defined by its creator as “horror doom/black metal,” an apt description of what you can expect. The sound is grounded in dreary, repetitive riffs, creating a hypnotic effect. Vocals alternate between eerie spoken word and unsettling screams. In other words, this album would make an excellent soundtrack for a horror film. If you appreciate a commitment to experimental, lower-fi production that actually sounds listenable, give this a try.

Pleia – Betori (Argentina, prog)

Progressive metal can be hit or miss for me, but in March, I found myself enchanted by this album out of Buenos Aires. Pleia employs a variety of instruments, sound effects, and vocal styles to create a unique sound drawing from rock, metal, and jazz. Each track is distinct—there’s no mistaking one for another—which allows the band to keep things interesting while still creating a sonically and thematically well-integrated whole. For a prog album, the songs aren’t overly long, and the limited vocal parts are used tastefully throughout. I have questions about the decision to end every track with an extended fade-out ambient section, which breaks the momentum without adding anything of note. Overall, however, the excellent musicianship and the band’s creativity make this a must-listen album of 2024.

ATER – Somber  (Chile, blackened death)https://i0.wp.com/f4.bcbits.com/img/a1264260203_10.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1

I have listened through a lot of Chilean black metal this year, but this one stands out as a favorite. From the get go, ATER absolutely pummels you with a wall of sound. The music is as dense as a fortress stone wall, and one might describe the listening experience as being dragged through said fortress and deposited in a pitch black dungeon. The fun backstory here is that the band’s founder met his future bandmates at a Meshuggah concert, and that influence is certainly there alongside the black and death. What makes this album stand above other similarly heavy albums are the brief little glimpses of melodic beauty: the eerie guitar opening to “Somber,” the Gregorian chants at the end of “Ignis Immortalis,” and the instrumental closer “Solitude.” ATER expertly employs these moments to lull you into a false sense of safety before starting up the bludgeoning once again.

https://i0.wp.com/f4.bcbits.com/img/a1658537461_10.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Uttertomb – Nebulas of Self Desecration (Chile, death)

Apparently April 19 was a big day in Chile, because in addition to Somber, it also marked the release of this banger of a death metal album. While Nebulas of Self Desecration is Uttertomb’s full length debut, the band has been around since 2009. This experience shows in the cohesiveness of their sound and obvious confidence in all the genre markers. As a big doom fan, I really appreciate that influence here as well, which serves to make the album even more crushing. I was reading sci-fi novel Gideon the Ninth the same week I was listening to this album, and I do highly recommend this pairing to fully maximize the gleeful necromantic vibes.  Brutal, dark, and ghastly good fun.

Chaska – Rites of June (Peru, melodic death)https://i0.wp.com/f4.bcbits.com/img/a2087581509_10.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1

It is rather bold to release an album titled Rites of June in the month of…May. Despite my questions about the coordination of title and release date, Chaska’s melodic death metal that incorporates traditional Peruvian soundscapes has been a highlight of my year. Wind instruments like the quena and siku interweave seamlessly with the more standard metal setup, like they’ve been an essential element of metal music since the beginning. I am also a fan of the vocals, a mix of clean melodies and harsh growls. The powerful, mystical sound that emerges feels like something out of a South American epic or fairy tale, and one can’t help but but be drawn into the story.

Read my review of the single “Nymph of the Lake” to learn more about this band and their music.

https://i0.wp.com/f4.bcbits.com/img/a2230962308_10.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Kréen – Ecos de Olas, Céfiros, y Llamaradas (Chile, black/doom)

I wrote a review of this album last month, so I’ll keep it short here, but this atmospheric black/doom out of Punta Arenas deserves another mention. Incorporating local history in the lyrics and local folk music in the sound, this is an album that truly captures the region it comes from. Ecos de Olas will leave you feeling both pensive and energized, and perhaps with a desire to travel to this remote region of the world. Read my full review of the album, and interview with the vocalist and songwriter H, here.

Paradise in Flames – Blindness (Brazil, black)

What do you like most about black metal? Look no further, this album has the whole shebang: church choirs, demonic howling, aggressive riffs, keyboard runs, a heretical concept, and a frankly obscene quantity of blast beats. If that sounds like a hell of a lot to be going on in a 38 minute album, you’re right. Blindness does suffer from an excess of ideas. Despite this, there are lots of really excellent elements, and through the chaos arises a dynamic album with a deliciously evil sound. The beauty and the beast style pairing of the two vocalists, the complex keyboard parts, and the general skill of the band members’ playing stand out as highlights. According to the band, “the album tells part of the story of a philosophical work that portrays religion as a psychological illness, illustrating how men become blind in the pursuit of power.” I’ll let you unpack that on your own time, but needless to say, Paradise in Flames adequately captures the dark side of religion that it aims to portray.

https://i0.wp.com/www.metal-archives.com/images/1/2/2/2/1222563.jpg?resize=150%2C149&ssl=1Comrade – Comrade (Argentina, heavy/rock)

If you are looking for something with contemporary production but a decidedly old fashioned feel, I have the perfect album for you. Rosario’s Comrade may have only formed in 2022, but they play gritty classic rock/metal in a style that would make the genre’s founders proud. The vocals are very strong, with a mix of Spanish and English language lyrics. Guitar solos abound; the ones in “A la Vera de la Vida” and “Los Tuyos y los Míos” are my favorites. In the band’s own words: rock on, comrades!

Innocence Lost – Oblivion (Brazil, power/prog)https://i0.wp.com/www.metal-archives.com/images/1/2/2/5/1225067.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1

In high school, I went through a brief obsession with female-fronted symphonic metal. This album follows very much in that tradition and therefore gave me major nostalgia. Lead vocalist Mari Torres can compete with the best of them; her vocals shine in tracks like “City of Woe” and “Fallen.” (The backup vocals, on the other hand, I could quite honestly do without.) The album is certainly not all about Torres’s vocals, however. The drumming, guitars and bass, and keyboards are all technically complex and interesting, and there are some great guitar solos to get stuck in your head. If you are in search of an epic and powerful sound with plenty of flair, this album is for you.

Addendum: A few bonus albums that weren’t my cup of tea but might be yours.

I walked away from these albums feeling like they were solid, but just weren’t for me or didn’t click for whatever reason. Because music taste is so subjective, I include them here as potentially worth checking out!

LugubraFlores e pedras (Brazil, heavy)

PentagramEternal Life of Madness (Chile, death/thrash)

CobentriceInterdimensional Abhorrent Conquest (Colombia, slam/brutal death)

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