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Haunting Memories and Entangled Musical Ramblings - 76%

bayern, February 9th, 2018

This may as well be one of the most original acts to ever grace the metal scene, a very eclectic batch whose next step has always been very hard to predict, something that can’t be said about too many of the South American practitioners of the new millennium who seldom dare to break the established musical boundaries with offbeat experiments and audacious musicianship.

The band’s story begins way before the 00’s, though; in fact, they were pretty much the first act on Chilean soil to start exploring more aggressive musical horizons their early demos “flirting” with heavy, power, and speed metal, pushing the boundaries towards both more elaborate and more extreme ways of execution which eventually materialized on the debut, an interesting amalgam of power, thrash and doom. The sophomore was “a romance” indeed as it was a very surprising turn to progressive rock, not much metal there, with echoes of Pink Floyd and Rush; another curious, attractive affair, only that now our friends had become fairly unpredictable, and probably had even been lost to the metal world…

No such worries as the next two opuses showed so well, both being exemplary technical/progressive slabs full of eccentric, non-standard decisions that could bring everything from Thought Industry to Garden Wall to mind, among bouts of inspired hard-hitting thrashing. Then came “Espacium” after a long 10-year hiatus, not a very dignified return, the guys trying to run away from the more aggressive tools of the trade again, ending up on the awkward, weirdness for its own sake, side of the fence that failed to convince anyone that the stalwarts of Chilean metal were ready to march with dignity through the new millennium…

The next, and last so far, chapter from their discography is the album reviewed here which fortunately doesn’t hide its fascination with the good old thrash, and with the rekindled aggression tangible all over this effort strikes almost as hard as the band’s mid-period. Expect nothing of the ordinary and the conventional, though, as this is simply not an option with these bizarros who have again put quite a few contrasting nuances into “the melting pot” which starts boiling with “Vacalaca”, a surreal twisted shredder with suddenly inserted dreamy balladic etudes; a most unusual, but compelling cut which has a distinguished follow-up in the title-track, a masterpiece of hectic, jazzy technical thrash with unheralded speedy walkabouts. “El Vampiro del Cogollo” changes the course towards a more modern and less exuberant delivery, but the fast-paced excursions easily save the day. The same can’t be said about “Garrafa Cuesta Arriba”, though, an 11-min extravaganza which relies on a not very cleverly-constructed interference by saxophone tunes, keyboard sweeps, not much actual metal here, which could have worked as a brief digression, but such a gigantic opera of moods and strange musical decisions may be too much for some.

“Cuero” brings things back on track, a masterpiece of shape-shifting progressive thrash with some totally stupendous time-signatures on top of a couple of serene acoustic sections; and “La Resurrección de Don Westancio” moves up the eclecticism ladder with nervy jazzy configurations and fast hardcore-ish surges. Another voluminous composition (the 8-min “Visión Chilenoide”) this way comes, amorphous avant-garde thrash with schizoid overlapping riffs, but also with the staple dreamier decorations the latter occupying quite a bit of space in the second half that gets bonded with “El Carchancho”, a similarly-constructed composition with a bigger emphasis on the mellow developments. The plot kind of gets lost later (the album is 1.5 hours long) with the tracks becoming longer the culmination in this trend reached on the 18-min saga “Descensos en Chile” which can’t be summed up with just a few sentences; suffice to say that it alone presents one small album in itself, nothing like something you’ve ever heard before, with more than just a couple of hard-hitting moments amongst the quirky, outlandish escapades.

A true epic in every sense, this effort would be an acquired taste for a fair number of fans although not too few will be those who will spend hours, or probably even days, listening to these bizarre soundscapes, trying to figure what this or that motif resembles. Thrash gradually recedes to a helping hand towards the end as there’s so much accumulated on these gigantic numbers that there’s not much room for too many headbanging explosions; and they’re not provided abundantly as an overflow of speedy histrionics would have sounded awkward on such a constantly shifting tapestry.

Certainly, for such a lengthy work there would be some ballast that may not appeal to even the chosen few, but the band followers have already learnt to tolerate all possible stylistic swings in the band’s repertoire, and they will hardly be surprised by the material on offer which can’t be classified as extreme progressive metal as there’s not much actual extremity going on. This is a larger-than-life odyssey that may be hard to listen to from beginning to end at one sit, but will by all means serve as a perennial example of one of the longest, most entangled, works of art within the metal circuit.