Banda de la Muerte – Pulso de una Mente Maldita (29 March 2012, Zonda Records)
So remember about two weeks ago, when I published a review of the most recent Cultura Tres album? At that time I talked about rectifying my previous oversight of South American bands, and hinted that there were two in particular I had my eye (or, ears) on. Well this is the second one: Argentina’s Banda de la Muerte.
My original plan was to write up both of these reviews and post them on the same day, but then I came to the realization that there would be so much similarity between the two, that you might get some weird sense of déjà vu — hence the delay in finishing and publishing this one. Now, I’m not trying to say that the two bands are the same or that their music is very similar; that wasn’t the problem. However, the way I first got introduced to these guys was virtually identical.
Like Cultura Tres, the name Banda de la Muerte first came to my attention as part of a European tour with Undersmile. And also, just like their neighbors to the north, these Argentinians had a song included in the recent Grip of Delusion Radio compilation The Book of Riff-elations. Once again, the band name jumped out at me when I recognized it in the track listing, and I found that I especially enjoyed their contribution, “Parte de Mi Historia” (Part of My Story).
The parallels don’t end there, either, because these guys also have had two releases, with the first one (2009’s Banda de la Muerte) being offered for a free download through Bandcamp (details included at the end of this post). Their newer album, Pulso de una Mente Maldita has been out since March (via Argentina’s Zonda Records, who also handled the earlier self-titled work), but it was recently announced that (just like Cultura Tres’ El Mal del Bien) it’s now available worldwide on vinyl (details on that included later as well).
So as you can see, there are quite a few similarities between the two bands’ stories, and in particular, my own road to discovering them. But enough of that — now I’d like to talk about what makes Banda de la Muerte unique.
Logically, I started off with the band’s first album, Banda de la Muerte (I didn’t even need any help from Google Translate with this one: “Band of the Dead”). (Oh, and by the way — all of their songs are in Spanish, so for the most part I’ve been unable to understand any of them from a lyrical standpoint. But every once in a while I’ll get excited when I hear a word or phrase that I recognize. I think I’m getting better at this, although if I’m going to continue to come across bands this enjoyable, I feel like I really ought to be working harder to learn the language!)
I found myself really getting into that debut album — it’s mostly grounded in stoner hard rock or stoner metal, with occasional bits of doom or sludge stirred in, although it also demonstrates an incredible sense of melody (especially in the vocals) and a knack for rather catchy songwriting. I’d suggest checking it out, particularly for the pair of tracks that close out the album. While most of the album’s songs are in the 3-5 minute range, the antepenultimate “Madera Sagrada” (“Sacred Wood”) is a brief (about a minute long) almost grindcore-sounding piece, thus serving as an even greater contrast to the final two — “Cuando no Hay Más Que Perder” (“When There is No More to Lose”) and “A Través de la Sangre” (“Through the Blood”), which each exceed six minutes in length. Both of these take the tempo down a bit, especially the latter, to nearly epic doom proportions.
Frequently throughout this record, the dark, melodic vocal style brings to my mind some of the heavier material of Scott Weiland; this becomes especially prominent on these two songs — and the doomy guitar riffs complement the singing surprisingly well, causing me to imagine this is what it might sound like if Stone Temple Pilots were to cover some classic Sabbath songs like “Hole in the Sky” or “Into the Void.” An odd comparison, I know, but it seems fairly accurate, and in any case I really dig it.
Anyway, I really should be moving forward to the album this review is actually supposed to be about: this year’s Pulso de una Mente Maldita (“The Pulse of a Damned Mind” — which I guess is a reference to the inner workings or thoughts of a very disturbed individual, a literal representation of which seems to be portrayed on the album cover — although I suppose it could also refer to someone who is literally damned?)…
Awash in feedback, and opening with a riff as thunderous and heavy as a chugging freight train (and, incidentally, just a bit reminiscent of the beginning of “Them Bones”), the album’s first track “Te Estás Dejando Mentir” (possibly “You’re Left Lying” or “You’re Lying Apart” or perhaps something else altogether — Google is sort of vague here) leaves no doubt that the band means serious business here. The vocals still have a trace of melody to them, and even some harmonies in the background parts; this is especially noticeable in tracks like the previously mentioned “Parte de Mi Historia,” as well as the wonderfully bass-driven “Hombre Muerto Caminando” (“Dead Man Walking”), for example. But have no doubt, this collection songs is heavy as hell; and also, on average, perhaps a little more riff-centric than those that came before.
Interestingly, just like its predecessor, this album also contains one grind-esque track, “El Sol Salió del Sur” (“The Sun Came Out of the South”), which clocks in at a mere 54 seconds of punky fury.
I’d be inclined to say that once again, they have saved the best (or at least, one of the best) for last. Following “Hombre Muerto Camiando” (which is also one of the many highlights), the album concludes with its title track, which on the surface seems deceptively mellow with its slower pace, clean guitar sounds, and empassioned singing. However, once the bass and drums kick in, they drive the song along — still ploddingly slow, but with a massive amount of force, like a huge anvil being dropped on every single beat. Then, eventually, it all fades into the distance, swallowed once again by the same feedback that opened the record.
Pulso de una Mente Maldita was recently made available worldwide on vinyl; buy it here. You can also listen to it, and purchase the digital download, at Bandcamp:
In addition, the band recorded an incredible LIVE PERFORMANCE video of the ENTIRE ALBUM — all thirty-plus minutes of it! I’ve never seen anything quite like this; you can watch the whole thing right here:
As previously mentioned, the band’s 2009 debut Banda de la Muerte is also available to listen or download (FOR FREE or name-your-own-price) via Bandcamp:
And one last item — I’d just like to take a moment to express my gratitude to LSW Music Promotions for being so nice and helpful in getting me better acquainted with this band as well as Cultura Tres!
Banda de la Muerte: website, Facebook, Reverbnation, Bandcamp
Zonda Records: website, Facebook, Myspace
LSW Music Promotions: website