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Underground Metal Special: Paraguay

Underground Metal Special: Paraguay

by Luxi Lahtinen

Have you ever been curious about the Paraguayan underground metal scene, what it is like and what it has to offer? I know I have always been curious about the underground scenes from different countries, the more obscure, the better.

Every time I browse through bands from the Paraguayan metal scene, the more I'm surprised in a positive way. Paraguay has a lot of potential in terms of quality underground metal bands.

So, let's welcome Paraguay, specifically a bunch of musicians from several underground metal bands who will introduce us to the country's surprisingly vast and vivid metal scene. We here at the old tower of The Metal Crypt asked them a couple of well-selected questions regarding the country's metal music culture and we are very thankful to all the people who shared their thoughts.

All interviews by Luxi Lahtinen

When you decided to form/join this band, what did you want to achieve?

Victor Ocampos (ARIMAN): Singer Gustavo Mereles and I decided to form a heavy metal band in 2003 after the split of another band called Mantra. We recruited a bassist, a drummer and another lead guitarist and our aims were to play in local gigs in our city, write our own songs and perhaps be considered one of the best heavy metal bands in our country. There were very few metal bands in Paraguay and most played thrash metal.

Gran Morales (PATADA VOLADORA): When we started this band, the goal was to assemble a street protest group and use the languages of Paraguay, which are Guarani and Spanish, to get our message through.

Victor H Romero (UFOLOGIST): First of all, I want to thank The Metal Crypt for this great opportunity for me and the scene in my country.

I founded this band with the intention of being able to capture the sounds I have in my head. It was also the result of several failed attempts to form a band with other musicians that eventually led me to go it alone.

Uzy Barriocanal (VIOLACIÓN MENTAL): When we decided to form the band in 2012, we only wanted to have fun and play some covers of music we like. We started with some Black Sabbath and Sepultura. Sometime later we felt more confident in our playing and decided to play a free show at the house of our vocalist. That was fun and we wanted to play more shows.

I think our first achievement will be when we start to be invited by producers to play more shows. Then we want to make our own music.

Lucas Minardi (CANCEROUS SOCIAL THOUGHTS): The band was formed in mid-2017. The idea was to make grindcore with themes related to the destruction of nature and the environment, all because of greed and all the blindness caused by money and power. Human beings destroy everything in their path, leaving a devastated planet. The tireless wars, death, chaos, chained minds manipulated with propaganda and violence, the consumerist system and politicians making use of them.

Martin Diaz (VISCERA EXPOSED): It is important to clarify that Viscera Exposed was born from other important metal bands in Paraguay. In mid-2016 the band's first rehearsals took place and today it is still active with the aim to record new stuff.

The main objectives of the band are to maintain opportunities for live shows and record new material, with hopes of getting some attention from record labels.

R. Doom (LUCIFER'S CHILDREN): Actually, we just wanted to rehearse and have a good time on the weekends doing heavy/doom metal, which is our favorite genre (Witchfinder General is the best band of all time!!!!!). We planned to record a full-length album, which we achieved when Devil Worship was released. The record had a great reach over the doom metal scene around the world.

Andres Godoy (ABOMINATION): Abomination is a death metal band from the city of San Lorenzo, Paraguay. It was originally formed by brothers Javier Rojas (guitar) and David Rojas (drums) in 1995. I joined the band in 2004. In the beginning I had many dreams and ideas that I thought we would accomplish as a band (make records, local concerts, international gigs and tours, and maybe a living out of it). But in time I realized those goals weren't realistic for most of us metalheads here in our country. But, of course, that was not an excuse to stop or to feel sorry for us. I told the rest of the band that we should save some money and pay for the recording sessions and start thinking about releasing our music on our own and we did it. In 2007 we recorded the very first official demo of the band called Infected Souls, with four tracks of pure, raw, obscure and violent death metal without compromise.

Oga (CEREBRAL SUPPURATION): The body began to rot in the middle of 2022. The idea from the beginning was to spit goregrind focused on topics such as death, gore and pathologies, having as an influence the purulent stench that satisfies us.

Oscar (CEREBRAL SUPPURATION): Our main goal was to make goregrind as well as we could, inspired by bands we admire and hoping it will be well received by people within the genre.

With Cerebral Suppuration the main thing was to try to recreate a sound like one of our favorite and unique bands within goregrind, Lymphatic Phlegm.

José Mario (INSIDIOUS IMPALER): Yes, from the beginning I have had personal goals of express everything that I carried inside and to make my loud ideas and compositions inspired by the metal of yesteryear heard. The main objective was always to release materials and play as much as possible, which we have done but not to the extent we planned. We have had several problems since the creation of the band in 2016, problems with the training mainly, so things were delayed a bit. Currently we are finally on track to record our first album.

Daniel Larroza (VERTHEBRAL): Since the beginning our main goal was to release an album that would transcend the borders of Paraguay. We wanted to show that it was possible to produce good death metal music even coming from an unknown country in South America. We want an international reach and that's very difficult to achieve for any band nowadays, seeing as so many new bands are emerging day by day, releasing music every day. There's a lot of competition. We were very lucky at finding good record labels around the world, releasing our albums and spreading our music in several countries. They trusted in our music and that was very important for us because no one gives you anything for free.

Luis Battilana (BLASPHEMER): First off, greetings to the whole staff of The Metal Crypt from us. It's a true joy to be a part of this special about our country and our underground metal scene!

When I started the band in 2011, it was pretty tough for me to get things rolling. Why, I hear some of you asking? Well, our country is a complicated place to start a band and have a career playing in a metal band. We only had a few resources available for developing our music. At the very beginning our style was focused on the old black metal style, basically in the vein of Celtic frost, Immortal, and a little of Behemoth's blackened death metal era. Our goals were pretty simple; play music that we liked and drink beer, haha! But in time our skills improved so we wanted to achieve more and do our best with our style of metal music.

Today, when I look back, I have to say I am very proud of all those things that have happened to us with our music, and, of course, getting our debut album out in 2015, titled Arasunu.

Pablo Cristaldo (MINYMA): My goals, probably, were to make my music known, songs that had been written for a long time, and I didn't want to let them die without trying. And another of my goals was to find the course of my life with respect to music, if it was possible for me to start a career with my musical vocation, and it seems to be possible.

What are you most proud of regarding past and/or present achievements of your band so far?

Victor Ocampos (ARIMAN): There are some very interesting things that we are proud of. One is that nowadays we are recognized by the underground as an important band in Paraguay. People chant the band's name and sing our songs, and we released two albums thus far, one of them in Brazil.

Gran Morales (PATADA VOLADORA): The most important achievement is that many people identify with what we do, and this makes us very proud and has opened doors for us to play in various parts of Paraguay and Argentina.

Victor H Romero (UFOLOGIST): I don't know if proud is the exact word. I'd rather say satisfaction. But then again, I don't focus on those things, simply achieving the goal once I've reached it. I no longer worry about whether I feel proud or not, it is simply a mission accomplished and on to the next objective. I consider myself progressive. I don't stop to enjoy the past, rather I enjoy designing the present to go to the future.

Uzy Barriocanal (VIOLACIÓN MENTAL): I feel very proud of what we have achieved so far. I mean, I'm proud of some really great shows we played. I'm glad to see that people enjoy our music, merch, etc., and all that is great for us and keeps us motivated. In 2015, we recorded our demo Carniceria Primera Metropolitana and most recently, in October 2022, we recorded Vomitando Caos which is a live album. I believe our next achievement will be to finally make our first pro studio album and take things to another level.

Lucas Minardi (CANCEROUS SOCIAL THOUGHTS): We are proud of having recorded our first album in 2017, titled Distopia, and the fact our second album is on the way. I think it will be the most important thing the band has achieved thus far.

Martin Diaz (VISCERA EXPOSED): What makes me most proud is the level of musical maturity that has been achieved with so many years of work. Each composition demonstrates the potential that we want to achieve as an extreme metal band with our songs containing powerful and direct riffs accompanied by powerful and technical drums.

R. Doom (LUCIFER'S CHILDREN): To be recognized as an important and representative doom metal band from South America. And to have released all of our stuff on vinyl in Europe as well. Maybe it sounds kind of normal to bands around the world but being a Paraguayan band it's a great success.

Andres Godoy (ABOMINATION): Oh, in the year 2017 we were contacted by a German tape record label, Caco-Daemon Records, and they offered to release our 2014 To Torture and Murder demo. That was THE most awesome thing in the world for us because being a not well-known band outside Paraguay we managed to catch the attention of this label who directed some serious attention to our music. That would later become a vinyl release by Seven Metal Inches Records, also from Germany, and owned by the same person. So we could not be much happier and thankful to Andreas Hertkorn, he is the guy.

Oga (CEREBRAL SUPPURATION): Being able to record our material, which received a good reception from the zombies hungry for pus and clots.

Oscar (CEREBRAL SUPPURATION): As Oga said, being able to release the Carcinosis and Cerebral Suppuration material is a great achievement for us. Through that we also met several new friends, gained the support and approval of people who have been in the goregrind scene for years and years, and made friends with labels along with support from people who like our music.

Misanthrope Josexxx (INSIDIOUS IMPALER): What I can really be proud of with Insidious Impaler is that the sound we've managed to bring out is the true sound that's been in my mind since I started listening to metal. I've always wanted to scream and play like Sarcófago, Sepultura, Razor, Morbid Angel, Blasphemy, Unleashed, Autopsy, Immortal, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Mortuary Drape, Rotting Christ, Cancer, Death, Sacrifice, Slaughter, Deicide, and Vulcano. They've been a constant in my life since I started listening to metal, and I'm glad I have taken all those bands and included an influence from each of them. We have had several events in different parts of the country and also abroad, where our music has always been well received by people who really understand the beastly sound that extreme metal in all its variants must have. At the end of 2022, we participated in the tribute to Sarcófago here in Paraguay with local bands, and after a few days, we flew to the city of Buenos Aires to participate in another tribute to Sarcófago, which was a pretty brutal experience for us.

Daniel Larroza (VERTHEBRAL): The most important thing is the way that I would like to be remembered with Verthebral. It's a band with very good albums with great compositions, that was true in style and brutal on stage. I would like all of our albums to leave a historical legacy in the Paraguayan death metal scene. I think it's amazing when new people find our music, and then have a big surprise because we are from an exotic country. People are more curious when they find a new death metal band from an unknown place.

Luis Battilana (BLASPHEMER): As I mentioned earlier, I'm proud of our band because of these great musicians around me, plus having the chance to work with some awesome musicians from famous bands who participated on our second album. Musicians from Rotting Christ, Yoth Iria, Destruction and musicians who work in a supergroup like Vivaldi Metal Project, not to forget Tim "Ripper" Owens. Also, I am also proud of myself as I participated in one other folk-metal-inspired album, recording some guitar parts with some people from Six Feet Under and Rings of Saturn. Even if this folk metal project had a rough start, I am so happy that I was able to be a part of it with all of these fine musicians.

Pablo Cristaldo (MINYMA): I think I'm proud to know that there are people who may like my music, and who could support me by virtue of the music I make, while they also find a reward for that support with quality music.

How popular is metal in your country today compared to 10-15 years ago? Are metalheads something one can see walking on the streets among so-called "regular people", wearing shirts from Maiden to Morbid Angel to Mayhem, etc.?

Victor Ocampos (ARIMAN): Metal music is in the minority in the country, but compared to a few years ago, I find it is getting better in some ways. First of all, because some big metal bands like Accept, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Kreator, Saxon, etc., have come here to play, that attracts a lot of new fans to the underground movement. The quality of the venues has also improved, and now it is easier to access metal music. And yes, you can find metalheads with their metal shirts walking on the streets and even working in shopping centers with their shirts on.

Gran Morales (PATADA VOLADORA): There are many metalheads here in Paraguay. In fact, the metal scene has been growing a lot in the last few years, and there are many good bands in each metal subgenre, plus one can also see people on the street wearing their t-shirts of local metal bands.

Victor H Romero (UFOLOGIST): Metal here currently has many followers. All this started in the '80s in the middle of the dictatorship but that didn't stop the number of fans from increasing. I can say unofficially that the number of metalheads exceeds a million or more out of a population of 7 million inhabitants. Bands like Iron Maiden have come here and tickets are always sold out.

In the very beginning we were frowned upon, but that has changed. It is very common to see t-shirts of all subgenres on the streets and people now take it as something normal. The truth is that people's mentality has changed a lot since the end of the dictatorship and metal fans are considered educated people.

Uzy Barriocanal (VIOLACIÓN MENTAL): These days it is very natural to see people in black band shirts, weird haircuts, piercings, tattoos, etc., so metal is very well accepted on the streets of our home country.

Lucas Minardi (CANCEROUS SOCIAL THOUGHTS): There is a relatively large scene in Paraguay, considering that we have about 7 million inhabitants (more or less) living in this country. And yes, you can see people on our streets wearing t-shirts of metal groups.

Martin Diaz (VISCERA EXPOSED): In Paraguay, although you may not know it, we have some legendary bands that have left their marks in our scene over the years. Some of them have been a source of inspiration for us in some way as musicians and showed us a path to follow. Currently metal over here is overshadowed by trendy and commercial things, which is a pity. But fortunately, there are a bunch of true metalheads who don't care for this commercial side at all and love some of those bands that we have always loved and followed. There is never a lack of love for bands like Metallica, Motörhead, Ozzy, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, etc.

R. Doom (LUCIFER'S CHILDREN): You don't see normal people wearing metal t-shirts usually, maybe Metallica t-shirts, which is very common in any place, I believe hahaha...!!! In fact, at local metal shows there are fewer people compared to 10-15 years ago. Sad to say, there are a lot of people on our small local scene doing "metal," but they don't call themselves "metalheads." Harsh reality.

Andres Godoy (ABOMINATION): Well, let's say that it got trendier amongst teenagers and youngsters because of social media, but it is still not quite accepted by the general audience or mainstream media, and it is very much an underground scene. I mean, I would dare to say that metal itself is global like almost any other music genre, but every country has its own identity in that regard. It's the music and everything within it that connects us despite the many different subgenres within metal. There is diversity even in the most underground scene or area. Yes, you can see metalheads wearing their favorite band t-shirt almost in every city in the country. We might not be a vast crowd, but we're almost all across the country.

Oga (CEREBRAL SUPPURATION): Paraguay has a very good metal scene. I recommend delving into its lands and discovering music that will surely be liked by many. Currently, many works with excellent prospects are coming to light.

Oscar (CEREBRAL SUPPURATION): Paraguay has always had a good and respected metal scene and currently there are many new bands releasing new material in different subgenres for all tastes. In our case the advancement of technology has helped a lot, since it is possible to record our music at home with the sound that we want without going to a studio. In our case we record everything at home; guitars, bass, voice, we mix or even edit material in a DIY way.

Ten or 15 years ago it was much more difficult and possibly there were great bands that couldn't release any material due to those problems.

Misanthrope Josexxx (INSIDIOUS IMPALER): Metal here is well known, and it is said that the metalhead public is the most loyal public. I have friends who have been metalheads for years and years, some since the '80s in Paraguay. As there are people who really take this as a lifestyle, there are also several posers without identity who fortunately are showing their true face over time. Their opinions never mattered and will never matter.

I could say that the scene in Paraguay today is not as big as it was 10-15 years ago, since currently there are many divisions between the national bands, be it heavy metal, thrash metal, death or black metal. I think 15 or 20 years ago the events were different, there was less technology and more feeling and more unity among metalheads (of course, I've heard all this from people who really lived through that era, and it doesn't change it for anything).

Yes, the metalheads here are something normal on the streets. I usually come across the odd maniac on the streets of Asuncion, or any nearby place.

Daniel Larroza (VERTHEBRAL): Metal music definitely is not popular in my country. There's not much information about our metal scene out there. Most of the bands are concentrated in the capital city Asunción, so the biggest shows and festivals are there. They have a few rock and metal pubs. We are from Ciudad del Este, the second most important city after Asunción. We are the only death metal band from our city. The main problem with our scene is the lack of support. When a band begins to grow, they definitely need economic support to record an album and there's no hope for financial return if you play death metal. Not much money invested is invested and there is no return and most of the bands break up for this reason or they stop their activities after a few years.

Luis Battilana (BLASPHEMER): In our country, metal music is some sort of taboo, among some regular people anyway (thinking it's Devil's music). In the '90s, people were trying to get rock and metal music promoted in our country, but every time some politicians came along and made things really hard for us metalheads. People over here should appreciate the diversity of people with different tastes and such. We are not made from the same mold, you know. Let's hope politicians get smarter in our country and understand the metal culture of our nation a bit better someday.

Yes, a casual tourist can also see people walking on the streets of Paraguay wearing different band t-shirts. Also, metal concerts are held here almost every weekend.

Pablo Cristaldo (MINYMA): Metal is not really popular in my home country, especially since tropical rhythms and the infamous reggaeton predominate. And metalheads are not frequent either, we are a very small group of faithful metal lovers, although there is enough freedom of artistic expression, with some concerts not so massive and quite calm, and non-metalheads respect our tastes and our events. That hasn't changed muchover the years.

It would be great if this changes and we can enjoy more crowded concerts between Paraguayan bands, unlike concerts by international bands where, curiously, a large number of people attend.

Paraguay, unfortunately, isn't considered a hotbed for metal music. Have you and/or your band ever thought of relocating to some other country and making your career somewhere else?

Victor Ocampos (ARIMAN): That is something we long to achieve, but we have to work on other stuff to pay dues and make a living. We are still waiting for some calls from Argentina or Brazil. Our second album was recorded in English, because in Brazil they consume music sung in English more than in Spanish or Portuguese.

Gran Morales (PATADA VOLADORA): We will probably not be the seeds of metal for many younger bands over here in our own country, but I believe we have generated some recognized and loved groups in South America, bands like The Force (thrash metal), Friday 13 (heavy metal), and Neighborhood Autopsy among others. We are on the right road and covering new territory more and more. We don't want to leave the country because we love our language, our people, and our drugs, haha!

Victor H Romero (UFOLOGIST): Unfortunately, my country hardly appears on the world scene but not because there is no potential. As I have said, there is no industry that supports the metal culture, there are no professional metal producers and, unfortunately, there is nothing like that. Everything is done independently. At the same time, we are a country that does not have the ease of purchasing power that some other countries have for buying good equipment. Here music is an expensive and long-suffering sport. But despite that, the scene is very dynamic. Personally, I don't care if I go to another country or stay but for me it would be an incredible achievement to achieve success without leaving my country.

Uzy Barriocanal (VIOLACIÓN MENTAL): Yes, in fact we are already considering relocating the band. I think most bands in our country have considered the same thing at least once. However, that means a huge money risk and overall economic difficulties, so we keep working from here to gather some money by taking a part in worldwide metal compilations, playing shows in our neighbor countries and cities, sharing our vision through our music and maintaining our own style without compromise.

Lucas Minardi (CANCEROUS SOCIAL THOUGHTS): Indeed, it is very difficult for us to do something on our own in this country due to lack of resources, but since we do not have the support or true resources to undertake such a radical leap like moving to another country, most likely we'll continue doing music from our home country in the future as well.

Martin Diaz (VISCERA EXPOSED): Rather than relocating to some other country, we are hoping to catch some attention from record labels abroad that could help us spread our music around the world or organize a tour for us. We have learned to love our country's metal scene and are proud of everything that has been achieved in our country so far. Sure, the metal scene of Paraguay is not known worldwide, but I assure you that you can find some very brutal bands from our Guarani soil.

R. Doom (LUCIFER'S CHILDREN): Good Question, and the answer is yes, we talked about that possibility, but it's kind of hard relocating to a foreign country. Each of us finished college and have our professions, jobs, and stuff like that.

Andres Godoy (ABOMINATION): Yes, that's a fact, Paraguay isn't considered a mandatory visit for most bands that come from Europe or the USA. Maybe because there's little information about metal bands. We have bands that deserve some attention and a chance to show the world that metal actually exists here. We may lack good promotion, record labels, economic issues, but what you guys are doing is one small but very important step in making it happen. Hopefully, one day, we might have an interview in Canada, too. ;o)

Oga & Oscar (CEREBRAL SUPPURATION): We never thought about it, and it will not be an option for us. We will continue here doing what we like and trying to grow the extreme music scene in Paraguay!

Misanthrope Josexxx (INSIDIOUS IMPALER): Actually Paraguay has quite a metal history. Extreme music here has been a constant since the '80s and '90s with bands like Rawhide, Corrosion, Funeral, Sabaoth, Metal Urbano, Khyron (antes Witchtower), Adonay, Abomination, Batallon, Destroy, Disincarnated, Overlord, Powerdrive, and Viernes 13, then in the 2000s several of the most brutal bands were born that today are classics of Paraguay like Violent Attack, Infernal Command, Motorized, To Arkham, Bestial Terror, Caceria, Ekron Cult, Evil Force, and Master of Cruelty, just to name some mythical bands of true metal from Paraguay!!! The list grows and grows. Paraguayan metal is glorious in all its variants and leaves the flag of South American metal flying high!

Job opportunities in other "first world" countries have never crossed my mind. Without really considering moving my band to another country, I have thought of it as a possibility in case I move to another country for a few years, since that without playing metal I cannot live, BUT, I have not really considered it in that sense, since Paraguay is the country in which I want to live and in which I like to do what I enjoy the most, listen, live and play Metal!!!

Daniel Larroza (VERTHEBRAL): We know that Verthebral needs to keep growing with every album, and we want to reach more people with our music. But as an underground death metal band we are realistic, and we know that it's impossible to survive playing in a metal band. We don't make money with the band, it's more like a passion, and outside the band everyone has their job, therefore moving to another country and trying our luck is out of our plans.

Luis Battilana (BLASPHEMER): We are hoping to continue with our band in the future and record our third album in some European country. With regret in my heart, it is very difficult to continue the band in Paraguay due to all kinds of limitations that we have in many ways. That is why I am preparing to take the next step without fear, without turning around and without looking back. It's more challenging to come from a distant country like my home country is, and to get our message through with our second language (i.e., Spanish)... "against all the world" as I have always put it (the slogan since I started this band).

Pablo Cristaldo (MINYMA): Of course, but for monetary reasons it is not very likely that we will be able to make a career in other countries. We are not a nation that is characterized by being economically prosperous, our purchasing power is limited compared to the US, Canada or Europe in general, so it is difficult for us in that sense. But above all things, and to overcome these difficulties, we have decided to record our songs in English, in such a way that, when it is the release of our first material, we can aim at the international market thanks to the current means of distribution, such as streaming platforms and social networks. We expect that release to be soon.















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