Metal is the quintessentially scary genre of rock; it’s a style of music that brings our biggest fears to life, embraces darkness, and defies authority figures of all shapes and sizes (parents, government, religion – you name it). Metal’s exhilarating pace and spooky undertones are everything you could ever want if you feel like scaring the hell out of people.
Heavy metal, the extreme style of British and American blues-based acid rock from the 60s, has proven to be surprisingly malleable to local contexts. Considering that Latin America and Spain are some of the biggest markets for the genre, it’s worth noting that when the style fully emerged in the early 70s, most of the regions were under military control and suffered from censorship. Dictator Francisco Franco ruled Spain, and the few non-totalitarian countries like Mexico experienced a wave of conservatism that influenced both the government and the music industry, which wouldn’t allow the style to flourish in other parts of the world.
But tons of psychedelic bands from the late 60s did their fair share of heavy riffing, like Mexico’s Los Dug Dug’s, El Ritual, and El Tarro de Mostaza, among many other “Avándaro” bands; Argentina’s Pescado Rabioso, Piel De Pueblo, and Pappo’s Blues; Uruguay’s Psiglo, and Días de Blues; Brazil’s Módulo 1000 and O Terço; Spain’s Tapiman and Evolution; Peru’s Tarkus and Pax, Chile’s Escombros and Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane; Venezuela’s Ladies WC and Tsee Mud, and many others. Cuba banned rock music outright for a brief period, although in the latter part of the decade it spawned an important band in the form of RED. Today heavy metal has a huge following in Cuba despite earlier repression, with acts like Zeus, Combat Noise, Abaddon RD, and Hades being huge on the island.
Just as metal began to define itself in the late 70s and early 80s – with its staple black t-shirts, leather and denim outfits, virtuosic musicianship, and its balance of the earnest and cheesy – the style took root in Spanish-speaking countries. Pappo is considered the leading figure for going full-on metal after forming Riff, opening the door for future Argentine icons like V8, Hermética, Almafuerte, and a slew of others; Spain gave rise to acts like Barón Rojo and Ñu. Mexico gave birth to Luzbel, Ramsés, and later, Transmetal, while Venezuela gave us Arkangel (which led to Paul Gillman’s eponymous band) and Stratuz. Other notable artists include Puerto Rico’s Mattador and Golpe Justo; Costa Rica’s Acero, and Necrólisis; El Salvador’s Sepelio and Metatron; Uruguay’s Cross and Alvacast; Honduras’ Khaos, Bolivia’s Arkanos; and Ecuador’s Spectrum and Basca; among many others.
Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Chile were instrumental in producing some of the most extreme styles of metal, influencing European death and black metal bands thanks to the underground tape trading circuit. Brazil spawned Sepultura and Sacófago; Peru gave us M.A.S.A.C.R.E. and Mortem; Colombia unleashed Kraken, Blasfemia, and Parabellum, and Chile had Pentagram, Massakre, Dorso, and Necrosis.
As you might expect, these bands’ songs are not so easy to find, yet we’ve assembled a playlist for your metal needs. Digging through YouTube will bring some of the most obscure bands your way.
Stream the playlist via Apple Music below.