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Long Live Bolivian Metal!!

May 4, 2013

View of Illimani, La Paz, Bolivia

Gazing out my window at the majestic, snow-capped peaks surrounding me, I continue to be astonished at the breadth and intensity of the metal music scene here in La Paz, Bolivia.  I guess what astounds me most is how every niche genre of modern and old school metal seems to have its local fan base and, even more remarkably, its own home-grown band worshiping at its altar somewhere in the hidden corners of La Paz.  My reason tells me I should not be surprised given the cosmic universality of metal’s connection to the most primeval vibrations of our primordial human souls.  And yet I still stand all amazed at the contrast between the beautiful National Geographic costumes, landscapes and faces I see every day and the Aymara-tinged heavy metal maelstrom I know to be lurking just underneath.

It’s about the hair too, of course.  As a pale, chubby-faced white kid from the Utah suburbs, I could only fantasize about having the flowing, thick locks that these youth of the Bolivian high plains enjoy as a birthright.  Science would certainly possibly tell us, based on this writer’s rigorously unempirical observation, that the precise Precambrian gene mutation that would eventually lead to the evolution of super cool headbanging hair definitely may have arisen in prehistoric La Paz.  (Just watch the first video below if you need more scientifical proofiness.)

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a couple of Bolivian bands that epitomize both the glorious fun and the no-shit devotion within the local metal scene.  They are ArmadurA, described somewhere on the web as “Heavy Power Folk Metal” and probably Bolivia’s most “successful” metal band based on their having produced at least one studio album, and Antifona, an operatic metal band with two female vocalists that have recently begun composing a few of their own tunes after previously mainly playing covers.  While performing for tiny, albeit enthusiastic crowds in crappy dungeons and with no hope of becoming rock and roll superstars, these metal heads play from the gut.  They really mean it.

ArmadurA          Antifona

Below are two YouTube videos of ArmadurA, the first being a performance in March 2013 on a low-budget Bolivian TV show dedicated to the local rock scene and the second an example of the band’s occasional mixing of traditional Andean instruments and rhythms into their heartfelt power metal.  Following those two videos, I’ve uploaded a video I personally made of Antifona playing at a dingy local metal club on 5 April 2013.  The weaknesses in sound and “visual composition” quality are mine, but the earnest commitment to craft is all Antifona.  Enjoy!

From → Music

  1. Nice post and great blog…I have to get here more often !1

    • Much appreciated. I’ve dug around in the depths of your cave and enjoyed it immensely also. I intend to continue the spelunking.

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