So I am trying to start working as a full time freelance writer, or at least I am considering it now that I am “in between jobs”. I know that writing for a living might be more than just writing poetry or short stories so I considered submitting this list to a website but they are not accepting entries about music soooo I just don’t want this to go to waste plus all feedback is wanted/needed.
10 metal bands with interesting regional influences:
Metal is, perhaps, more a subculture than just a music genre. Every year we find new subgenres adding to the list of what metal is. At times it could be an artist being out of what we would imagine a metalhead is (hey, remember when we could see Christian bands like P.O.D. hanging out with the likes of limp bizkit?) or subgenres that end up being just a fad of the moment. In this article, I would like to focus on ten bands that changed a tiny bit of the metal landscape by being “just a tad out of the norm” representing influences from their own countries or instruments not normally found in metal.
1: Puya: Starting this list with, possibly, the band that had more commercial sound than most of the entries here; Puya is a progressive metal band with salsa and funk influences that started back in 1991. It could be argued that their Caribbean influences are to be more expected than the heavy riffs and the double bass drum over the congas and horns since Puerto Rico (where they come from) is more associated with salsa, and/or reggaeton than with hardcore metal. However it was that blend which helped them get a bigger recognition and a broader audiences who accepted them thanks to those musical elements and the subject of cultural identity, even their name alludes to it. Puya is the term used to describe a way of taking coffee; straight black and no sugar and it could be that same kick of hot black coffee is akin to the heaviness and aggression of their sound.
2: Whispered: This, may be a tad of a controversial entry due to the fact that Whispered takes inspiration from the Japanese folklore but are not Japanese themselves, similar to Flametal, later on. Finland has a long history of great metal bands (i.e. Nightwish, Sonata Arctica) this Finnish band mix Japanese aesthetics, to their head banging power/death metal sound. Although their sound coming up at times as gimmicky (think playing anime influenced RPG while listening to Children of Bodom) it works in their favor due to their seemingly honest interest on respecting the influences they take from Japan, either on themes or use of regional instruments. Kinda epic, right?
3: Guahaihoque: Since most of the heaviest bands come from Nordic backgrounds is very common to encounter folk metal with heavy influences from pagan religions and European folklore. Guahaihoque, however, comes from a totally different background. Starting in the late 90’s this Colombian band the name is taken from the Muisca (native indigenous tribe from Central America) lore and is the name of the Spirit of Death, guardian of the threshold to eternity. This band has death, doom, and trash as the base for their music mixing it with regional instruments to create what some have called ancestral chibcha folk metal; Chibcha being another name for the Muiscas. #headbanging a to fuete.
4: Kukulcan: While researching information for Guahaihoque I stumbled across this band from Tlaxcala, Mexico. The band takes its name from Kukulkán of one of the Mayan deities; literally meaning feathered and just like Gauhaihoque they dabble in themes of the Mayan religion and folklore. However it stands appart from the first one not only on specific tribal lore and religion, Kukulcan is first and foremost ancient folk and then metal. Interestingly enough, similarly to some Nordic Folk they have been involved in some controversy due to their links to groups who have ideologies influenced by Nazism… yes I know. The more I listen to this the more the mix makes sense to me.
5: Tengger Cavalry: Mongolian Folk Metal from New York. Because of course, why not? This band was founded by Chinese-Mongolian Nature Gangaibagal who not only throat sings but also plays the Morin Khuur, also called Mongolian Fiddle. While Tengger brings these elements in a powerful way mixing it with catchy riffs and other elements from the Mongolian culture. In the words of its front man, the Mongolian folklore is something that appeals to metal heads due to its epic attitude and warrior imagery. Replace Harley Davidson for a pure breed horse and you will get it.
6: Gybiaaw: Canada is home of the Tsimshians, indigenous tribe that calls home the Pacific Northwest. Their name is S’malygax for wolf and their songs are sang in that language. The music is pure death/black metal with intros drawn totally from the Tsmishian culture and at some points you will notice native drums giving a bigger sound. If you take samples of their music you may just hear metal with some drums underneath however the songs, sang on their native tongue represent that culture and does a great job having those musical nods to their roots in a way accessible to others around the world. Wait for it, waaaait for it.
7: Cemican: Coming back to Latin America, Cemican (from the Náhuatl meaning life, health and wisdom) bringing the prehispanic influences and imagery to thrash and death sounds, their shows use not only sounds that pay homage to their Náhuatl heritage but also uses quite a bit of the theatrical element to portray the religious sacrifices practiced by their ancestors to convey an atmosphere of mysticism This is, at least, as metal as any drunk viking.
8: Flametal: Sometimes an influence on metal doesn’t mean a particularly new instrument or drawing attention to a different ancient lore, sometimes is just a perfect blend of two genres that should have been working together for a long time. Benjamin Woods, from the U. S., is the guitar player who formed this band in 2004 taking the Flamenco music of Spain and married it to speed and power metal. This group in specific is instrumental only which allows the listener to enjoy the technical aspects of how the Spanish guitar is handled and contrast it to the rhythm guitars (which are more power metal) I would argue that although the sound is awesome it was missing the cante jondo an andalucian way of singing very distinctive of the flamenco music. Yet how come this is not more of a thing? it makes sense
9: Gevolt: Similar to Flametal the interesting thing of Gevolt it’s taking the way a particular culture does music and metalize it. This group formed in 2001 comes from Israel and mixes Yiddish music and folklore with industrial metal having fiddles with some interesting synths and great riffs. The music also brings the jewish culture to its public due to some of their music taken directly from their history.
Catchy, don’t understand a word, but it is catchy.
10: Harmasar: Since 2013 this band from Moldova was formed by drummer Mircea with members of other bands that wanted to explore more the folk side of the music as a way to celebrate their culture. Similar to most bands, specificly to Gevolt their songs are taken directly from historical battles of their country or tales taken from their folklore. Balls to the walls kinda metal.