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Death Metal in El Alto

The festival was unfortunately named.  I accept no responsibility.

The festival was unfortunately named. I accept no responsibility.

I’ve occasionally put up posts on music in the past, but it looks like I may be putting up more such posts in the future.  I went with some friends to a Death Metal Festival the other day (posters above and bottom).  It was fantastic.  The variety of music (within the Metal genre) was stunning, and the musicianship was, frankly, a huge surprise.  We are definitely going to be exploring the Bolivian rock scene more deeply.

Rock Chicks on Stage:  Tatyana, Karin and Leonore on stage with Mariagrizel, the drummer from Obitus Designious

Rock Chicks on Stage: Tatyana, Karin and Leonore with Mariagrizel, the drummer from Obitus Designious

We were there for eight hours and saw about half of the lineup.  Unfortunately, that was about all we could handle.  Maybe we will have to build up to it slowly.  I’ll run through a short review of the event and of the bands we saw.  In sum, though, this is a must-do activity for anyone in Bolivia interested in rock.

Obitus Designious with our crew

Obitus Designious with our crew

The venue was one of the many event halls in El Alto.  It wasn’t big, but managed to handle the crowd reasonably.  As they evening went on, though, it did get very smoky and there was no fresh air.  Happily, there was a courtyard outside the hall, but off the street, where you could gulp in some fresh oxygen between acts.

. . . and with the girls

. . . and with the girls

Like always in Bolivia, the crowd was friendly and welcoming.  Most were young, and most seemed to be from El Alto.  The gender mix was a bit surprising – there were many more women than one would find at a similar event in the U.S.  I didn’t count the number of people who came up to me (very visibly an outsider) and welcomed me, several even thanking me for visiting Bolivia or for coming to the show.  Of course, all were curious about where we were from.  As the evening progressed, the alcohol consumption kept up with the music, and the dancing became more raucous, as is usual.  A fight (apparently over a girl) did break out in the courtyard, at one point, but it was quickly over without too much damage being done.  All in all, though, I would say the “moshing” and the pushing and shoving was less violent, and more respectful of non-moshers, than at many concerts I have attended in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The Bands

The quality and diversity of the bands was the huge surprise of the afternoon.  One Cruzeño I had the opportunity to talk to between acts said that even related musical genres do not mix in Bolivia.  He said that Death Metal and Black Metal do mix, but Thrash Metal and Punk have their own scenes and never come together with each other or the first two.  The festival was focused on Death Metal and Black Metal, but the variety of music within those genres was quite a shock.  To give you a taste, I’ll run through the bands we saw, describe their music, and upload a representative sample (not whole songs, mostly just random outtakes).

ODObitus Designious

Obitus is a quartet, with Rodrigo Acosta Vargas fronting and playing the base guitar, Luis Bejarano on the Guitar and Mariagrizel Chavez tearing into the drums – the forth member, apparently a recent addition, is not named on their Facebook page.  They came together in September, 2012 and hope to have an album out by mid-2013.  They list Sepultura, Slayer, Anthrax, Deicide, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Pink Floyd, Queen, and Black Sabbath as influences, but clearly are more heavily influenced by the more metallic members of the list.

[flv]http://memmott.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCN2805.flv[/flv]

By the way, please pardon the slowness, but if you expand to full screen, you will get a pretty good look.

Saita

This is an all-girl trio and they are incredible!  I don’t have the names of the participants, and they don’t have a facebook page (yet), but I’ll certainly be watching for an opportunity to see them again.  This is simple, hardcore death metal.  The girl who fronts the band has a deep, dark, loud, powerful death growl into which she puts not only her voice but her entire body.  The guitarist and drummer are both good, as well, but they do tend to fade into the background when the lead singer is doubled over, as if in pain, pushing out that growl.  Wow!

[flv]http://memmott.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCN2816.flv[/flv]

[flv]http://memmott.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCN2817.flv[/flv]

 

Belfast

Really?  Celtic metal in El Alto?  Yes!  And Belfast is fantastic.  With eight (!!) musicians up on the small stage, including a flutist and an electric violin, Belfast makes an impression.  The two lead singers, trying to weave their participation together sometimes by alternative phrases, need more practice to get a difficult idea to actually jell, but the music behind them, including the prominent flute and electric violin are a pleasure to listen to and made a wonderful break after Saita’s deep death metal.  Celtic metal, a fusion of death metal and Celtic folk music, is naturally softer and more lyrical and melodic than other sub-genres of death metal.  That said, Belfast is notably more “death” and less lyrical than, for example, Celtic metal pioneers Cruachan.

[flv]http://memmott.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCN2819.flv[/flv]

 

PurgPurgatorium

Purgatorium is an excellent band from El Alto, but it does have a couple of twists.  Most noticible, the musicians wear masks.  It’s not to keep people from recognizing them (everyone sees their faces as they come in and leave, anyway), but it does give the performance an extra bit of the macabre.  And while the music is mostly traditional death metal, with the usual death growls performed by the lead singer, there is a female backup singer who adds some higher pitched screams as a counterpoint.  It is pretty effective.  Purgatorium has a Facebook page, but I didn’t find any clips on YouTube.

[flv]http://memmott.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCN2821.flv[/flv]

 

Prodious

Prodious serves up some good melodeath metal (or melodic death metal).  The lead singer has a great voice, and uses it for a more melodic sound, with some light screaming.  You get none of the traditional death growls with Prodious.  In fact, the words are almost comprehensible at times.  Take a look at the hands of those two guitarists, especially the one on the right side of the screen.  He is shredding!  He was certainly one of the best guitar players of the night — maybe the best.  As far as I can see, the band has no internet presence.

[flv]http://memmott.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCN2825.flv[/flv]

 

Maldicion Kennedy

Maldicion Kennedy

Maldicion Kennedy

Another interesting band mixing a heavy metal sound with some more lyrical folk elements, this time, Bolivian folk.  With three Kennedy brothers in the band (maternal last names, anyway), they come by their seemingly semi-American name honestly.  Marco Antonio Ordoñes Kennedy plays the base guitar, and then drops it, occasionally, for the quena or zampoña, singing sometimes, as well.  Edgar Ordoñes Kennedy sings and plays the guitar.  Raul Ordoñes Kennedy is on the keyboard, while Juan Aron Mariscal Roselio takes care of the drums.  Maldicion Kennedy is from norther Potosi department.  I quite enjoyed the band, and liked the inclusion of the quena in the mix (the zampoña did not appear).  Maldicion Kennedy has a Facebook page and a number of videos up on YouTube. By the way, the first clip below, with its high-pitched singing, is not very representative of most of the Kennedy sound, which tends toward more traditional guttural vocals. The second clip gives a taste of the integration of the quena into the music.

[flv]http://memmott.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCN2826.flv[/flv]

 

[flv]http://memmott.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCN2829.flv[/flv]

 

Angaros

Angaros

Angaros

Unfortunately, we got hungry.  Had to make a run out for fried chicken.  Missed Angaros’ set.  Facebook page.  There are several video clips up on YouTube.

 

DarkDark

By the time we got back, the Dark set was mostly over. What little I saw suggested a more traditional death metal sound. They do have a Facebook page.

 

 

AMAve Maria

Ave Maria was a favorite of mine.  Slightly more melodic than some of the other bands, it was apparently a favorite of many others, as well — the crowd seemed to know the words to all the songs. And check out the electric charango — now that is cool.  Ave Maria has a Facebook page, but I haven’t found any online video clips.

[flv]http://memmott.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCN2830.flv[/flv]

 

 

Bands We Missed

M16M-16:  Facebook page.  One video on YouTube.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iscario-t:  I can’t find a Facebook page, but there are a number of video clips up on YouTube.

SabSabathan:  Facebook page.  Has a number of videos up on YouTube.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TMThrashmaniacs: Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

TunTunupa:  Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

66sex

Six Six Sex:  Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tumba Ancestral:  No internet presence, as far as I can see.

Guillotina:  This was the name of a well-known Mexican metal band, but I don’t find any real information on the Bolivian band.

MboGMorbogore:  Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

What’s Next:

Another night of metal at the Oveja Negra, in El Alto.

Another night of metal at the Oveja Negra, in El Alto.

 

Obitus Designious will be playing the Perla Negra, in La Paz, on March 23.

 

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