Cultura Tres – El Mal Del Bien (self-released, 29 March 2011)
So yesterday morning, as I was putting together the post about the newly released track by Vesperia, it occurred to me that I’ve done an awful lot of writing about bands from our upstairs neighbors over the past couple months. At the same time, it occurred to me that I’ve probably been unfairly neglecting music that originates from south of the border…
Well, actually, I haven’t entirely neglected bands from south of here — about a month and a half ago, I posted about the Grip of Delusion Radio compilation (which you can still download for free, if you haven’t yet!), and in that post I briefly mentioned a couple of South American bands that had songs included. One of those was Cultura Tres from Maracay, Venezuela.
These guys had first come across my radar just prior to the release of that Book of Riff-Elations compilation, when I read about them playing some shows over in Europe with our British friends Undersmile. So the band name (which literally means “Culture Three” but idiomatically refers to life in the so-called ‘Third World’) jumped out at me when I saw it in the tracklisting. Naturally, I had to give their song “No es mi Verdad” (“It is Not My Truth”) a quick listen, and it was so deliciously sludgey and doomy that I just had to grab both of the band’s full-length releases, 2008’s La Cura (“The Cure”), and last year’s El Mal del Bien (literally, “Bad from Good” or “Wrong from Right”). Both of these are available to download (for free or whatever price you choose), but the newer one was also recently released on vinyl, so I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about that now, Dear Reader.
As soon as this album’s opening track “Propiedad de Dios” (“Property of God”) kicks off, it’s immediately obvious that what we’re dealing with here is darker, slower, doomier, and heavier than its predecessor. The tracks seem a little bit longer, on average — not just because some of the tempos are slower, but also because there is a bit more variety in the structure and dynamic range. “Propiedad” demonstrates this well; first of all because at seven-and-a-half minutes it’s the lengthiest song here, but also because it introduces some of the cleaner harmonized singing that is prevalent throughout the record. Where La Cura was an excellent piece of straight-up sludge metal, complete with angrily growled vocals throughout, El Mal del Bien shows a tremendous amount of growth in writing and arranging.
The album still is sufficiently angry throughout, particularly on tracks such as “Purified,” “El Sur de la Fe” (“South of the Faith”), and “Tres Seis Diez Dos” (“Three Six Ten Two,” which is almost entirely in Spanish, and unfortunately the significance of the numbers in its title escapes me). However, with some more drawn-out instrumental sections adding atmosphere and setting a gloomy mood — even with one track that’s entirely instrumental, “Los Muertos de mi Color” (“The Death of my Color”), and that cleaner singing. I’d be inclined to compare the harmonies with Alice in Chains, or some of their post-grunge disciples such as Tantric, being strikingly melodic, yet incredibly dark and ponderous. This inclusion, as I mentioned, does wonders for creating a contrast throughout the songs, and is especially prominent in such lovely numbers as the opener, “Voices,” and “Your Call.”
Oh, and by the way, you may have noticed that the song titles are a mixture of English and Spanish. The same could be said of the lyrics, although the majority are actually in English, with some key phrases in the Venezuelans’ native tongue.
El Mal del Bien was first made available in March 2011; near the end of the year it was released on vinyl in South America, and then worldwide in January 2012. You can listen to the ten tracks from the vinyl edition using the Bandcamp widget below, and you can also download it from there. As I mentioned earlier, it’s available for free, or whatever price you choose. Also as I mentioned — darker, slower, doomier, and heavier than plain, regular sludge metal. Absolutely worth picking up a copy!
Please note that the digital download edition contains two bonus tracks (“Holy Graveyard” and “Black Sabbath”) which are not streamable on Bandcamp or included on the vinyl. The first of these is actually the heaviest on the whole release, eschewing any semblance of melodic or clean singing, but rather delving into a harsh death/doom vocal style, which is delivered just as excellently as the rest of the styles present here. The second bonus track, naturally, is a cover of the title track from the self-titled debut by the Godfathers of all heavy metal. I’ve heard this song re-done a number of times (most recently as a part of One Inch Giant‘s tribute medley), sometimes well and sometimes not-so-well. Probably the award for the slowest and creepiest cover version would have to belong to Type O Negative. Cultura Tres come pretty close to that territory, actually, and they also win bonus creativity points for including the song’s third verse (which doesn’t appear in the original recording, but is sometimes heard in live bootlegged versions).
You can buy the LP on Bandcamp for a mere €5 (plus shipping)!
Furthermore, the band’s previous album La Cura is also streamable and downloadable, via this Bandcamp widget: