Retrospectiva al Metal Chileno (Guest Blogger Book Review)

I thought this post was an interesting insiders account of a far-away Metal scene (for most of us) from a far-away place. To some, Chile might not have been considered a major export of Metal in the 80′s, but nonetheless they had a thriving scene of some sort it seems. Parts of the article were edited/corrected for clarity.

This will be the first post featured in our new GUEST BLOGGER section here on Demolish A.D. Enjoy the post - Kinger

Looking back at the Golden Years of the Chilean Metal Scene (1983-1993).

When I first heard about this book I thought, well, that’s it, another rock book trying to give an objective account of something that was so personal and something that each metal “banger” saw in a different way. When I heard the way the book was going to be organized though (thematically, with an index of the bands and fanzines of the period), my interest about the book grew.

When I heard the book was going to come with a vinyl (including a selection of some of the fines moments of the Chilean scene), then I definitely was interested in it.

When I finally had this real time treasure in my hands, I really have to say I was blown away by it and it is well worth its value. It is full of interesting information on the bands and scene, plus there are some reflections on the movement that can really capture your imagination. It takes you back in time to the glorious years.

The book itself has some 200 handsomely illustrated pages and it’s full of images from the period. It reminds you of the countless fanzines that circulated around that time (yeah, the pre-computer era’ when you actually had to put talent into doing covers or fanzines, do your own drawings and put it altogether by yourself). With all the modern hi-tech stuff I have to say the aesthetics from the period remain unmatched by any of the current records or magazines.

Another plus for me, is that it is a real attempt to take the scene seriously—which existed out of Santiago—a massive achievement in a country which is so centralised as Chile (yeah, you know that in Valparaiso there was a scene, but after all this city is just 1 and a half hours from the Capital). Bands from all of our national territories get space here.

Whether you know much or little about the Chilean scene, it doesn’t matter. You will still enjoy this book since it was not written for train spotters. This is all about metal and how a tiny scene—a heroic bunch of people, built a scene with little to no resources in the most adverse circumstances you can think of! It also captures the spirit of the time and allows the people who were part of that movement to speak for themselves.

This is a highly subjective book and that’s the whole beauty of it. We all saw things are own way, we all understood the movement our own way and we all got something different out of it. For myself, I can say that thanks to metal and what it meant. I learned to have an independent stance and surely I can say it gave me a sense of being able to create something, to organize stuff (when my class mates were just doing what they were supposed to do). We were different, we were unexpected, we could break the bleeding mold. I’m sure this was experienced by others, but in their own particular way…we all related to it.

 

Pic from Manuel Gym Plaza (1988)

Brothers in the Metal!


Music was important for all of us. We met in the same spots to talk, to exchange music, to share some time with friends—yeah, we had a great sense of comradeship and sense of belonging. It was a great time in our lives! It was a beautiful time that many people out of the circle could not understand. Those who regarded us as the “new barbarians” and who gave us hassle at school, in the streets (the cops), at home, at our gigs, could never understand the magnificent feeling of being part of a group of people. We were actually much more gentle than our fierce appearance and or could make you suspect at a first glance!

 

“Thrash metal was a way out for all the anger we had.”


I think a particularly good emphasis of the book is to focus on the political situation of the time. That certainly created a space for dissidence and metal was a channel for it—to express frustration, to do something new in a country where culture was crushed under the military boot. As Anton Reisseneger from Pentagram states in the book: “this was a rebellion against everything, government, military, church, family, etc.” Likewise, the opinions of Tom Araya in an interview when, talking of the thrashers as non conformist expressed what many of us felt at the time… not to talk about the invectives of Yanko Tolic from Massacre against the pitiful state of the country, a country plundered and oppressed. “Thrash metal was a way out for all the anger we had.”

I’ll make a couple of comments on the book—which by no means undermine the credits this metal treasure deserve. Being a highly personal subject is obvious that I may see things slightly different to the author. It is natural as well and there can be no definite account of this movement (though in terms of information, this book is pretty close).

I believe the interaction between punk and thrash is not fully explored as it should have been and indeed it would have needed a full chapter—we did actually listen to a lot by the Ramones, Vibrators, Sex Pistols, Exploited, Discharge, Broken Bones, English Bones, Black Flag, etc. There were also the hardcore influences of D.R.I, Suicidal Tendencies and above all Cryptic Slaughter—they really influenced the scene! In fact, even Pentagram made a hardcore song called “Pigs” (guess who was it dedicated to!).

Punk bands also played at metal gigs, usually to open up, and they deserved an equal place in the index of bands. Sure, Caos is mentioned, so is DAD from Talcahuano (near my hometown of Concepción; later this band was to be called Ecosidio). Why Politicos Muertos or Anarkia are not prominently figuring in the index I don’t know! Particularly Anarkia, which were formed by ex members of Atomic Aggressor, who also ran a metal fanzine called Anarchaeology (one of the best of its time) and because their demo simply kicks arse!

There are other bands I miss, like Asociales, the first all female band to play in Chile (who got an awful time in gigs sometimes by a male-centred movement in an extremely sexually repressive Catholic dictatorial regime where lads were used to behaving like morons when they saw a “girl”) and I think that white metal didn’t get any credits whatsoever.

“This book proves that the Chilean scene was far more than Pentagram.”

There were few bands, but some of them were by all standards excellent such as Azeta (who get just a brief mention). I always tend to feel sympathy for those that go against the grain… but there are hundreds of bands and testimonies and I think it is only fair enough that a couple of bands got lost, still the book does an excellent job in terms of rescuing  a number of bands from oblivion that deserved more recognition than they got. This book proves that the Chilean scene was far more than Pentagram (an excellent band by any standard). There were others like Warpath, Dorso, Nimrod, Necrosis, Massacre, Vastator, Apostasy, just to name a few.

We had glorious times. We had a Chilean Metal scene that had excellent bands and was as good as anything else we listened from the outside. More importantly: it was a scene we loved, that we nurtured, that we supported with great effort.

Unfortunately, we all grew a bit cynical of it in the end. I felt there was a point in the mid ‘90s when the spirit of comradeship was lost. When metal turned into an “industry” like any other and when bands were classified into easily identifiable trends. The bands started getting monotonous and some morons started behaving like a cult and taking it all too seriously. They lost the sense of spontaneity and tongue-in-cheek revolt that it was about and because of that—it stopped being funny at all! We all moved on and while there are a number of good bands out there still playing the “scene” as such, it was all but history. That is why a book like this is so welcome.

I want to say thanks to Andrés Padilla [ex-editor of great fanzines such as Impulso Repulsivo, Violence and Grinder] for putting all this together. He is a genuine guy who has been around for a long time supporting the scene and this effort is really amazing. Do get the book if you can. You will surely not regret it at all!

I am also listing the songs in the vinyl (see below). You can download it of course, but nothing will equal the glorious sound of these songs on vinyl. It was great to see all these bands again. So few of them ever made it beyond the tape trading circuit. Some of these are exceedingly hard to get, such as the Cancerbero rehearsal from 1988 (great death metal band from Concepción), DTH demo Multitudes and Rust demo track “Tendencia de Muerte”—a real killer recorded in 1986.

Retrospectiva Al Metal Chileno

1983 – 1993

Tracks on the Album:


1. Necrosis – Kingdom Of Hate

2. Nimrod – Time Of Changes

3. Massacre – Morbid Death

4. Rust – Tendencia De Muerte

5. Dorso – Hidra

6. Vastator – En Las Fias Paredes Nel Nicho

7. Squad – Cuma Aggression

8. D.H.T – Multitudis

9. Torturer – Kingdom Of The Dark

10. Darkness – Scream By Pain

11. In-Aggression – Genetic In Extreme

12. Betryed – You Are A Worm

13. Beliel – Merchants Of Faith

14. Cancerbero – Carnage Of The Dead

Obviously this is not a definite anthology, but it is a good representation + a good choice by someone with good taste. At the end of the day, all of this is excellent and give’s you a good glimpse of what Chilean Metal was all about!

*Post by Lorenzo from Yappy @ Lockjaw blog.