I was unaware of any Puerto Rican metal bands, which is a shame because I am half Puerto Rican. So I’ve been researching here and there, and found that the metal scene in Puerto Rico is stronger than where I live. I envy Puerto Rican metalheads because they have a true underground. Like metal isn’t popular at all on the tiny island. If you want to play metal in Boriquen, you basically have to do it because you love it, and it generally shows in the music.
Overall, the Puerto Rico metal scene is abundant with NWOBHM inspired bands with higher pitched clean vocals and neo-classical riffage.
Power friggin metal. 4/4 ’80s noodling all the way. It’s fun, but it’s also kind of grating on my ears a bit. I like Maiden and all, but the only albums I like through and through are their first two, and a big part of that is that Paul Di’anno vocalized on ’em. “Iron Maiden” and “Killers” were more unrefined than everything with Bruce Dickinson, and unrefined is the name of the game in metal. So bands like Dantesco didn’t really do it for me. Good musicianship, just too clean. Needs more punky drive to balance out the elegance of the NWOBHM gallop.
Dantesco has some sick album art, though.
Puerto Rico also has the other end of the spectrum: really, really unrefined bands. A lot of them are black metal bands that would make the first Darkthrone and Burzum records seem amazingly produced. Most of the black metal in Puerto Rico is of the melodic variety, I couldn’t find a black metal band that strikes the same nerve as Watain or Nachtmystium for me. Again, it’s probably because I don’t like elegant clean vocals with tons of vibrato.
I also don’t really like synthesized strings, which, thanks to Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, are in nearly every black metal band now. One band, Matriarch, was pretty good. The clean vocals were distracting a lot of the time, but when they were used at the right moment, you can feel it-they add great ambiance when put in at the right time.
Then there were a bunch of Exodus and Anthrax inspired thrash metal groups. I actually think I liked a band called Cardinal Sin better than Anthrax, I think. But, again, there just wasn’t enough gut-wrenchery in it for my tastes.
My metal snobbery was dashed aside, though, when I found a new school thrash band that sounds like it’s following the new school trends, whatever they may be (writing music in a post-Pantera world…I think that’s it). Zafakon kick ass. They understand the power of the riff, their bass doesn’t sound like a tuba player being thrown down a long flight of stairs, the vocals are vicously gutteral, and their drummer knows when to halfstep it. They are also relatively new, so hopefully they’ll stick around and tour the world someday.
Another band I dug/digged/however-you-conjugate-it was Organic Infest. They are old school death metal with a bit of thrash thrown in for shits and gigs. They also have never, ever, ever discovered a way to make decent quality recordings. The song I linked is probably the best recording they have. For one of their albums, the mix was so horrible: guitars were as audible as a cricket passing gas in the middle of a hailstorm. It sucked because the drums sounded like the songs would have be-footed tail. Regardless, they actually look and almost sound like ’90s Puerto Rican version of Revocation.
And then I found the douche metal. Puerto Ricans have to go to the gym with their bros, too, so it’s only fair their jocks start dumb bands, too. The song I’m going to link aren’t that bad, actually. Somehow jock-core doesn’t suck quite so much in Puerto Rico. Like Pit Fight Demolition throws in blastbeats, which is nice. But then again, so do a lot of deathcore bands in the continental U.S. And notice the Five Finger Dick Munch-like attire and stance used by the UFC-ly titled Pit Fight Demolition. I didn’t look up their lyrics, but I bet they are about being good at fighting and how you aren’t and now you’re going to pay for disrespecting them.
Another jocky band is Puya, which I actually like a bit. I found some stinkers on YouTube from them though. This song is totally radical, though. Apparently they tended to follow trends a bit. Honestly, what band doesn’t to a certain extent. Puya sounded a lot like KoRn when nu-metal starting blowing up, though. Their earlier stuff sounded like hardcore punk and Sepultura and sassy Spanish word-spitting, though, didn’t it? I dig ’em, despite their pandering to success at certain points in their career. Even their sellout stuff wasn’t that bad.
Oh, also, there’s this band, as a YouTube commenter pointed out, Puya v2.0, Tavu. They’re metalcore that’s more focused on fast, hardcore grooves than thrashy riffage a la God Forbid. I’d run/pump iron to them. I won’t drink Heiny and Smirnoff to them, though.
Puerto Rico’s most recently successful metal act is a Christian somethingcore band called Convalesce. If there’s a trend bus they can hop onto, they do. Convalesce, besides using religion as a marketing tool, are a sweepy haired, running-in-place, with — emotional — whimpy clean vocal, unending breakdowns, occasional electronica breaks, djenty guitar “thunks” (which aren’t bad all the time, I admit), and oh wait now they have 90s Metallica short hair and WOW For Today-sized gauges. Whatever, man. Good for them for getting moderate success, I suppose.
Okay, I promise I’m done bitching now. These last two bands I found are actually pretty great, like I will most likely get into them, fan-wise. The first one is called Last Wish of a Dying Man. They are a death metal outfit that know how to write some solid material. I love the tone of the guitars. It doesn’t feel like a tone so much as a feel, though. Like certain guitarists can breach “sound” with their tones. Like you feel something when you listen to a single chunky chord from Matt Pike, Tony Iommi, and Scott Hull, right? I think Last Wish’s guitar section might have something like that developing. Just stay your course, guys, and feed Puerto Rico the distorted death metal is so severely needs.
My favorite band that I found while scouring the internet for Puerto Rican bands hailing from the Isla de Encanta is Wall Red Murder and they GRIND. These guys are chaotic, like any grind band should be, but they are also like some sort of machine that rapidly changes at what speed it’s gears crank. It’s really fun listening to this four piece churn into a frenzied adrenaline fix. I don’t know if they are still active, though, and I can’t find anywhere to buy stuff from them. That’d suck if they are split up.
If anybody wants to suggest another geographical area that you wouldn’t expect a metal scene, tell me in the comments and I’ll try to research it up.