Scares and candy are around the corner, you can feel the chill in the air. Halloween is the time of the year when we get surrounded by the macabre. In addition to costume parties and pumpkin everything, it’s the season of horror movies. It’s when we bust out the B-movie horror classics and Z-grade slashers for fun. Because, above everything, these flicks are about getting a kick out of them, either because they genuinely make you feel goosebumps or have a great laugh in a so-bad-its-good way.
But what about music? Sure, there’s campy psychobilly, goth, and the Misfits to make the ghouly season feel more spooky, but if you want really intense scares, few things top extreme metal. And just like horror cinema, this music ranges from intense as shit stuff to ridiculously grandiose and epic that it becomes a riot to listen to. Here at Remezcla, we thought it would be the perfect time to revisit some of the best exponents playing death metal, with some nods to other sub genres like black metal and doom to give it some variety.
As a disclaimer, this is just a small sampling of extreme music from Mexico, Spain, Central, and South America spawning the past three decades. These genres are notorious for being the birthplace of many bands, most of which are just boring and derivative, with few rising to the top. Still, those few are a lot compared to other genres. Think of it as introduction with some obscure names tossed in for those familiar with the big guys. You can, of course, suggest whoever I forgot in the comments section. To drive the point home, there’s going to be a lot of omissions.
So sit back and get your ears blown by the finest gore merchants in Latin@ music.
They are one of the most legendary obscure bands in the genre. Want proof? Napalm Death covered one of their songs in 1999. Since getting the blessing from the godfathers of grind, they have been better known by others around the world, even playing a much awaited set at Maryland Deathfest a couple of years ago.
Forming in the late Eighties, Cenotaph soon became one of the country’s premiere DM outfits, playing an atmospheric and technical brand of the style that made them a hit with international outfits. Singer Daniel Corchado was so impressive that he left the band after one album to join doom/death legends Incantation for a spell, and then fronted fellow Mexicans The Chasm. Riding Our Black Oceans still packs quite a punch.
The most famous metal band from South America, the band has weathered sound and lineup changes to become one of the most beloved bands in the genre. Before “Roots Bloody Roots” or even Beneath The Remains, the band was a scary, reverb-drenched satanic force that played fast evil music. While they would conquer the world with a better sound, their first recording efforts are not without their “deathy” charms.
Black Angel [PER]
This is a band that seems to be at war with everything. Their take on black metal is a very evil one: wicked screams, crappy production, and a whole lotta attitude makes this a great band to listen to in the dark. It’s just pure evil-made riffs.
Cuba has had a big, active metal scene for some 30 years now, although it has endured censorship and the embargo which prevents musicians access to stuff like instruments. The scene has been subject of many feature articles and documentaries. One band that is pretty much always mentioned in these is Zeus, probably the biggest metal band in the history of the island. They might not be as fast, complicated or evil as others, but they make it up by being uncompromisingly heavy.
This trio is all about distortion. They mostly concentrate on playing really slow, relishing on the fuzzed out textures they generate from their riffs with the occasional blast of punk angst to balance things out. It’s slow and scary, but the clincher is that two of the three members in Electrozombies are female, to mess with whatever preconceptions you might have.
Spain is fertile ground for filthy fast metal, just ask Avulsed and Haemorrhage for proof. Machetazo might be the country’s best export when it comes to the death/grind market, though. They were so metal in their early years that none of their songs had lyrics. Subsequent years brought them maturity, more refined playing and words to their songs, but they remained savage until their last album, Ruin, before breaking up earlier this year.
One of the world’s best raw band in metal, the ’90s band never made an album, releasing just a few demos in their lifetime together. However, those demos made the band big in Central America. They disappeared just after a few years of being together. A short time after, vocalist Jr Sucre made a name for himself as a political cartoonist in one of Panama’s most widely circulated newspapers.
Their rivals Sepultura might have struck gold but Sarcófago were not without their historical glory. The band was fronted by Wagner Lamounier, the original Sepultura vocalist, who took the diabolical leanings of his former band to new extremes (he is now a college professor). They were also fond of adorning their faces with black and white makeup, which later would be known as corpsepaint. Sarcófago are notorious for being cited as a major influence in the nascent black metal scene by members of Mayhem and Darkthrone.
As mentioned, the Cuban scene is big and varied, with most bands sticking together to play, regardless of their sound. Medium started in the ’90s playing death metal but didn’t debut until 2001. They were very well known in their home country, while also playing a very unique blend of fast and evil music, until their split.
One of the prime Central American bands, the veteran Mortem has even been the subject of a tribute album. Considering their powerful take on death metal, it’s no wonder they are regarded as one of the best worldwide.
Cultura Tres [VEN]
Okay, this band is not as destructive as most on the list. They are very melodic in the vocal department, to tell you the truth. That said, they feature gigantic riffs, slow rhythms, and the occasional dissonant guitar riff for that chilly sensation.
Pseudostratiffied Epithelium [C.R.]
Quick! Try to say the name out loud three time, fast. Seriously, try it! Now that you failed to get it right, I can tell you that it’s not necessary to enjoy their music. This band is as fast and aggressive as they are perverse and gory.
Sometimes they bill themselves as Abaddon of Barranquilla to avoid confusion with other bands of the same name. Although that might not be the most trve evil of names, the band makes it up by playing veritably punishing black metal. What we find here is something thrashy, distorted and fucked up.
El Ahorcado [MEX]
San Luis Potosi’s El Ahorcado has only been around the scene for a few years (and are currently on hiatus) but they are one of the meanest most punishingly slow and scary bands in the country. Thick riffs move like maple syrup about to hit a waffle, making for a very intense mood.
It takes balls to wear makeup and sing to the glory of Satan, but doing it in Cuba might be even more risqué. Ancestor perform their sinister metal in full regalia and do it better than most of their European contemporaries.
Probably the best known band in this list after their countrymen Sepultura, the band are touring mainstays in the world of metal. A trio of brothers, Krisiun formed in 1990 but it wasn’t until 2000 that they really hit their stride, playing heavy as hell music with twisted arrangements. They are a brutal world potency.
Looking like something out of a Amando De Ossorio film, Orthodox usually take the stage covered head to toe in black, faces and everything. This is only the icing on a very scary cake, with the band playing iceberg-melting paced (and sized) riffs while vocalist Marco Serrato Gallardo sings in a manner that recalls Spanish canto jondo.
This band started in the ’80s but took them until 2007 to make a full-length studio album. Their brand of death metal is very gory and heavy, hardening with age. In fact, the veteran act is still going strong.
Did you think they weren’t going to make the list? You know them, you got scared by their Matando Güeros cover art. Probably the most notorious band on the list, they blend themes of narco violence, Satanic ritual, immigrant rights, and Mexican folklore for something a bit unsettling but quite fun when moshing in the pit. The supergroup is still active and just announced they will release a new record next year. Just remember: if you are DJing a Halloween party, you best play “Don Quijote Marijuana” if you want to keep things amicable with everybody; anything other than that song might not give the right mood.