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Contracara > 1307 > 2019, CD, Postunder > Reviews > Agonymph
Contracara - 1307

Rebellious heavy metal with added depth - 90%

Agonymph, September 18th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Postunder

Whenever I need the rebellious spirit that seems to have been middle-classed out of contemporary European and American heavy metal, my attention tends to quickly turn to Central and South America. Contracara is one of those bands that made me realize what it was that I needed to hear in uncomplicated heavy metal, without being able to articulate it at the time. While all the elements in the Peruvian quintet’s sound are familiar, they play their songs with an energy as if they’ve just discovered this genre as an outlet. Their most recent album ‘1307’ sees them refining their sound, but not without keeping that irresistible energy.

Stylistically, the changes between ‘1307’ and debut album ‘ENDM’ aren’t even all that big. The riffs of Gino and Ricardo Bogani still sound like Judas Priest if they had started in 1990’s America with the occasional early thrash influence, Sara Monzón’s vocals still range from aggressive to simply forceful and the rhythms are fairly uncomplicated, but excellent at enhancing the dynamics of the songs. ‘1307’ just adds a lot more depth to Contracara’s sound. There are more riffs, allowing the generally longer songs to tell more dynamic stories and there is increased room for dramatic lead guitar themes – often harmonized – courtesy of the Bogani’s.

One wouldn’t have to look any further than opening track ‘Manipulados por el Sistema’ to hear that added depth in full effect. It starts out sounding like an aggressive heavy metal track that would have been a perfect fit for ‘ENDM’, only to go into an epic, almost Iron Maiden-esque direction about halfway through. There are multiple instances of this on ‘1307’. ‘MCCCVII’, for instance, appears to be one of the faster thrashers on the album after its short classical guitar intro, but it moves through several heroic, borderline cinematic sections throughout its seven minutes, including a quieter section spearheaded by Eduardo ‘Cheta’ Deza’s bass arpeggios.

Naturally, Contracara hasn’t forgotten how to write a simple, in-your-face heavy metal song. The relatively aggressive ‘Existir para Morir’ and closing track ‘Enemigo de Su Ley’ are exactly that, while ‘Creen Ser Dioses’ is a fantastic speedster and the powerful mid-tempo stomper ‘Golpe a Golpe’ consists of great riffs and a beautiful, yearning chorus. It’s just that allowing themselves to broaden their scope a little more has made Contracara a better band. The slight change in approach turns songs like ‘Sangre de Serpiente’ or ‘Silencio Sin Final’, which would have been fun thrashy headbangers otherwise, into epic metal masterpieces.

If ‘1307’ proves anything, it would be that maturing your sound while keeping what makes you special is perfectly possible as a metal band. Nobody who has heard ‘ENDM’ will mistake the music on ‘1307’ for anyone but Contracara’s, with all the enthusiasm, energy, aggression and memorable songwriting that comes with it. And for those who haven’t heard Contracara: go and listen to both of their albums. If you are looking for traditional heavy metal riffs with a contemporary bite and excellent rough-edged – but not too rough-edged – female vocals, there are hardly any better places to check.

Recommended tracks: ‘Manipulados por el Sistema’, ‘Sangre de Serpiente, ‘Existir para Morir’

Originally written for my Kevy Metal weblog