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Exterminio Ritual or How to Mutilate the Goat - 40%

Tlacaxipehualiztli, June 10th, 2013

Mexican label American Line is a metal stronghold. Joel released many good and great underground records. But this time, something is broken, however I don’t treat Guerra Total’s “Más Allá de la Tumba” as the biggest mistake in metal world. This is my first meeting with this band and now I do not know if I want to hear the debut or the newest one from 2012. Musically they perform very popular (nowadays!) kind of metal, and describe their music as ‘black speed metal’. They are almost right, everything is deeply rooted in the eighties, but there is a need to add to their style simple thrash as well, you know, old Slayer, old Running Wild and so on. Even I started to write about unpleasant things, let’s focus on positive stuff. For sure one of the highlight is the work of rhythm guitars where Colombians show a potential, just take a listen to “Exterminio Ritual”, the title track, “Tormento Nuklear” or “I Am the Werewolf”. Sometimes played fast, sometimes slow which seems to be a better direction for the band. Though I heard those groups of riffs a million times, I think they really moved me straight into the magic of old times. Vocals are maintained rather in black way with very seldom eruptions of falsetto, good point for the band that some song are sung in Spanish, definitely better choice than English in this case. The rhythm section bravely follows the guitars, but with no any spectacular show, just an usual work…

Thus, it’s time to write about the worse side of the album, so let’s listen to the guitar leads carefully. The first one appears in the second song (the opening track is just an intro) about 1:16 played by Death Fiend of Haunted Graveyard & Black Bishop of the Undead. To put briefly, this is horrible! It is played in very chaotic way, but in the negative meaning of it. I can only feel some kind of sick cacophony supported by weak technique that completely ruins the song. Also sound realization of guitar leads should be mentioned here, cause it sounds like… keyboards! Awful! Unfortunately the similar scenario is present in other songs. And if the song has quite good riffs structure, the overall impression is destroyed by these unrehearsed, not thought out piece of playing. The leading example: just take a listen to the last track “I Am the Werewolf” maintained in cool Motörhead vein. The real disaster comes with the opening seconds of the first guitar lead which is absolutely one the worst solo I’ve ever heard in my metal life. By the way, the second one isn’t better…

The next thing that makes me annoy a lot, is using of horror-like introductions. As a whole, the album has almost 37 minutes, without intros – 31 or something. But this is a gross exaggeration. Guys, you are thrash/speed band, I understand one intro on the beginning, maybe the second one on the end. Thus the band serves almost six minutes of dawdling with a total defeat in the title track: opening intro lasts 1:18, but this sweet (?!) melody taken from a nice wedding or some love television series makes me vomit! Is it the call of Cthulhu? NO! Is it scary? NO! Is it the worst intro in metal music? YES! And even if they assure us about creating horror atmosphere in their music, I cannot believe them. During listening to the album, I don’t go in fear and trembling. I can hear only these awful leads and intros.

They wrote in the booklet: “metal is destruction”. Yep, they’re damn right, but these words don’t refer to their music. Guerra Total failed, but using my vivid imagination, I can remove guitar leads and intros, and I will get pretty good old school stuff, definitely nothing new, yet enjoyable and full of metal. For sure the Colombians have a power to create cool parts of rhythm guitar, but solos should be improved next time. This piece of music is simply weak.

Black Thrash Speed Metal Symphony - 80%

TheStormIRide, April 26th, 2013

Everyone knows South America is a hotbed of dirty black metal, thrash and speed metal combinations. Maybe it’s the rich history of bands playing this style or maybe it’s the simple fact that the denizens of the southern hemisphere just want to have fun with the style. Whatever the reason for the over pouring of bands from the region, the simple fact is that when it comes to dirty amalgamations of the aforementioned genres, South America has the market pretty much cornered (aside from all the Japanese legends, you know). Guerra Total is a Colombian act that falls perfectly into line with most of the continent’s output, blending good old fashioned eighties speed metal with dirty, thrashy, black metal.

Guerra Total’s music on “Más Allá de la Tumba” is simple and straight forward. The guitars are the most prominent element here. There are riffs galore on this album, mostly being a simple chunky thrash style a la early Megadeth as heard on “Cenobits” or a straight up speed metal blitz on tracks like “Black Goat of the Woods” and “I am the Werewolf”. The riffs go from catchy, grooving palm muting to fast paced and punchy fret board running. The combination of speed metal and thrashiness sits very well with the rather thin and dirty production, but it also adds a very eighties, punkish feel. Being influenced by speed metal a great deal, there are some really interesting lead lines that just scream mid-eighties German speed metal. The leads aren’t the focal point of the music, but the shredding lines on “Terror Thrash” and “Holocausto Zombi” are impressive enough to grab the listener’s attention. The drums are relatively standard, mostly being a fast fairly paced rock rhythm, but with the production’s focus on the guitar riffs, it’s not that big of a deal. The bass and snare drum are extremely muffled, giving a fairly hollow sound, but there’s enough power to the drumming to keep from being completely washed out. Rolls and fills are throughout the album and are always fast paced. There are a few points that slow down to a crawl, but the guitars stay gritty and punk-infused during these parts. Most of the band’s black metal influence is shown through the raspy, throat torn vocalization. The vocals start out with a shrieking falsetto, but the majority is a very raspy, black metal style that comes across as more of a shout than a scream. They’re gruff, they’re dirty and the sloppy vocals match the music perfectly.

The music on “Más Allá de la Tumba” is a black thrash slash speed metal amalgamate that should please fans of the dirty and raw metal styles that frequently come out of South America. The music is fast paced and dirty yet competently performed. I can make comparisons all day, but the music here speaks for itself. Guerra Total play a competent brand of black thrash and speed metal with a punkish flair. This is recommended to fans of dirty thrash and raw speed metal and the standard South American combination of black metal with the above mentioned styles. This is far from the most inventive album out there, but it’s played well enough to stand a little ahead of the pack.

Originally written for The Metal Observer: