Archive for Maniac

More Stuff from España

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , on October 8, 2012 by Magadh

Maniac demo

Altercado Espiritual demo

Displague S/T

Those of you who were into punk, or underground music more generally, in the 1980s will remember the frequent discussions that arose over the pernicious influence of the record industry on music. Horror stories were legion of bands who had, for one reason or another, signed up to major labels only to be fucked over, sucked dry, and cast aside. One important impetus for the development of the post-1979 punk scene was the desire to create a culture outside of the sort of art as extractive industry that characterized (and continues to characterize) the music business. Having done a bit of work in radio and music journalism in the 1990s, I can attest to the deeply parasitic nature of the industry. A lot of things were funded by skimming money off of (or simply expropriating the work of) bands. I was always shocked by the number of hangers on who did nothing useful but whose livelihoods were guaranteed by the need for the promotion and distribution capabilities that the records companies could offer through their capacity to aggregate capital.

For some time it’s seemed to me that this has been changing. Digital technology has enabled lot of bands to present their music directly people without the intermediation of pressing plants and mastering services, to say nothing of the record companies themselves. People in the recording industry are wont to bitch about the effects that downloading is wreaking on the business. In the long term, I think the real challenge to them is that they are simply going to become irrelevant. There is probably no more important development in the history of modern underground music than the advent of Bandcamp. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s the flagship for a larger pattern of contact between bands and their listeners that, for the most part, factors the parasites out of the equation. Want to sell your music? You can do it. Want to give it away for free? You can do that too? Want to make the actual artifact available to your listeners (since some people still dig having the record or cd in their hands)? Nothing’s stopping you.

All of this is a long form way of illustrating how chuffed I am at the improved access that I now seem to have to music from far flung places (well, at least far flung from here). In my previous post, I talked about Valencia thrashers Tempesta. Their Demo-níaca demo is most excellent and can be had from Bandcamp. As previously mentioned, they specialize in aggressive, metal tinged hardcore with impressively guttural vocals and precise musicianship. Their demo came out in January of last year, if I’m not mistaken. Since then, they’ve also done split recordings with Winterstorm and Maniac. The former hail from the Canary Islands (and should not be confused with the black metal band from Andalusia or the darkwave act from the UK). It’s kind of funny to me that you would come up with a name like Winterstorm coming from a balmy place like the Canary Islands, but I give them credit for creating some fierce blasts of raw death metal.

Maniac come from Madrid and have some similarities to Tempesta, although they are really a proper metal band. Their demo was released earlier this year. It features six tracks of gruff speed metal with some death metal tendencies. They kind of sound like less guttural version of a band like Séance. They chug along mostly in middling tempos, but their music is really quite enjoyable. It’s not exceedingly complex, but they know what they are trying to accomplish and they do it with aplomb. Their singer has a pleasing gruffness and sounds sort of like a Spanish version of the guy from Guillotine Terror. They sing about the sorts of things you might expect: death, metal, hell, phantoms, yeah, you get the idea. Anyway, their demo can be had for free and is well worth your time.

You could really say that I am kind of an atavist. I do tend to gravitate to the kind of music that I’ve been listening to since the early 1980s, and it was for this reason that I got into the demo from Altercado Espiritual. Have you ever wondered what the This is Boston, Not L.A. comp sounded like in the ears of our Spanish colleagues? No? Well, I don’t suppose that I did either before I heard Altercado Espiritual’s demo. It’s not what you would think from the cover art, which features a deliciously amateurish take on Indian iconography. What emerges is obnoxious, early 80s Boston style hardcore with buzzsaw guitars and a really snotty attitude. The longest of their songs clocks in at 1:29, with most considerably shorter. Those who remember the early days of Boston H.C. will be reminded of Kill for Christ era F.U.’s, with maybe a little Impact Unit thrown in for good measure.

Finally, the find of the week for me has been the self-titled record released a couple of months ago by Displague. They are from Molins de Rei, which I think is somewhere in the neighborhood of Barcelona. If you’re wondering what they sound like, their name sort of spoils the surprise. This is d-beat hardcore played with precision, passion, and belligerence. Their sound is a little cleaner than a lot of bands that play this kind of music, but their songs are heavy and well arranged. Those who have heard Instinto will hear some similarities, particularly in terms of the melodic elements that they include in their songs, although Displague’s music is a little bit rawer. Their singer is really awesome. He sounds utterly desperate and it lends a really urgent dimension to their music.

Is that enough for now? I think so. More soon.

Magadh

Review: Maldito Pais y Tempesta

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on October 6, 2012 by Magadh

Maldito Pais Demo

Tempesta Demo-níaca

The other day, I had one of those excellent, serendipitous encounters that one has from time to time around the punk scene. I had decided to check out the Spanish punk band Disparo. Why, you may ask? Because I saw a picture of Instinto in which one of the members was rocking a Disparo t-shirt, and since Instinto are pretty awesome, I figured that bands that they like might be worth a listen. I found Fracasados on Bandcamp priced at 7€, which really didn’t seem like too much to me, so sent them the dough. The next day I got an email from one of the guys in the band saying basically that the record was meant to be free and refunding my money. He also turned me on to a couple of other bands that he was involved in. It’s moments like that that have kept me involved in the punk scene since the early 1980s. At its best, the punk scene is about making cool things happen for others. At its worst…well, we won’t worry about that right now. Suffice to say that since he did me a good turn, I thought I might return the favor by reviewing the other stuff that he turned me on to.

As those who read my review of Disparo from the other day will know, I really dig them. As an aside let me note that I’ve been really getting into a lot of punk from Spain lately, thanks in no small part to having gotten in touch with Paco from Instinto (who is a really right guy). When you live in the U.S. it’s pretty easy to let your focus get really narrow. There is a lot of music here and, given the hegemonic reach of the English language, one tends to get exposed to a lot bands that do us the courtesy singing in our mother tongue rather than their own. Unlike most Americans, I actually speak a couple of other languages, so I’m not put off by music that isn’t in English, but it still takes a bit of effort to get with things outside one’s own linguistic area. I know a lot about what’s going on in Scandinavia, in part because if the prominence of bands from Sweden and Norway in the underground culture. A lot of those bands sing in English, but even when they don’t the fact that I speak German (which is similar in a lot of respects to Scandinavian languages) means that I can generally figure out what they are talking about. It is one of the ironies of world culture that bands from Spain are little known over here, to a great extent because they sing in Spanish and relatively few people in the U.S. learn it unless the grow up speaking it at home. This is really absurd. We share this continent with a huge number of Spanish speakers. The fact that so few of us are conversant in their mother tongue is a sad commentary on the xenophobia that is so rampant in our culture. I do not exclude myself from this judgment. Having grown up in an area with a lot of Spanish speakers, I knew a bit growing up, but lost it because I moved away and didn’t use it. I am now trying to rebuild my knowledge of the language. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the most important is that it is a gesture of earnest to all the Spanish speakers in North America (and around the world) that our cultures have something to say to each other, and something to learn from each other.

Having nattered on for a bit about matters only tangentially related, let me now say that I am really stoked to hear bands like Maldito Pais. They play a kind of punk rock that recalls an era before such a premium was placed on playing 10,000 miles per hour. Of course, there is nothing wrong with blazing thrash, but there was a moment in the mid-80s when this kind of became the be all and end all of punk chops. It meant that a lot of the joyful quirkiness of the early punk scene got beaten into the ground. Obviously I’m exaggerating a little bit. There are plenty of veins of punk in this country that aren’t given over to shortness, fastness, and loudness, but I do kind of think that the hyperthrash thing had the effect of pushing some other things to margins, although it produced a lot of good music on its own account.

To return to the matter at hand, Maldito Pais are a little like a less hypercharged version of Inu. They have a lot of elements of ’77 type punk both in terms of song structure and melody. They bounce along happily with cool, hooky tunes and choruses that would be fun to sing along to after consuming a lot of Pabst. I’ve listened to their demo a lot of times in the last few days and I always find myself tapping my foot along to their music. It helps to that the musicianship is really, really solid. This isn’t complicated music, it’s just really solid and entertaining.

Hmm, did I mention bands playing 10,000 mph? Well, I think that Letxon is also in Tempesta who roll along at a considerably higher tempo than Maldito Pais (at least most of the time). In my post about Disparo I think I made some comment about Tempesta being really metal. Having listened to Demo-níaca about three dozen times now I have come to the conclusion that this was a little unfair. There are some metal elements in evidence: some heel damping here, some back picked chugging there, but this is really pretty straight forward hardcore otherwise. These guys are aggressive and guttural, without being totally incoherent, which is more of a challenge than you might think. Demo-níaca is just unrelenting. It gets to grips quickly and stays in your face throughout seven really blistering cuts. Paco tells me that these guys are an absolutely crushing live act, and I have no trouble whatsoever believing it. They have a split EP out with Maniac, which I’ll talk about in my next post (preview: it fucking rules), only because I’m going to talk about Maniac’s demo then too.

Paco kind of joked with me the other day that I was becoming an expert on “Spanish” punk. Well, hardly, but it’s a nice thing for him to have said. I will say that I know a lot more about what’s going on over there now than I did two or three months ago. Hardly a week goes by when I don’t hear something new and awesome out of Spain. Maybe it has something to do with how fucked up the government is over there. It’s hard to say. We’ll be doing a bigger thing on Instinto in the near future and maybe that’s something I can ask them about. For now, the process of learning about the punk scene over there is like being a kind in a candy store for me. More on this topic in the very near future.