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Underground Metal Special: Nicaragua

Underground Metal Special: Nicaragua

by Luxi Lahtinen

All interviews conducted by Luxi Lahtinen

Nicaragua is not well known for its underground metal scene, but it is a country with a good number of metal bands like so many others on this planet. It's not even surprising to see an army of metal bands raising from this country, which has a very colorful history, but we will not talk about that as I don't have the skills to give you a history lesson. Instead, I would like to introduce a bunch of bands that took some time to tell us how they started, what the driving force was to become a metal musician, and what were some of the influences that they looked up to when they were young kids.

The Metal Crypt sincerely thanks everyone who contributed to this underground metal scene special of Nicaragua.

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

José Nicaragua (VHALDAGIO): The band was formed in approximately 2015. There was no specific goal just a strong desire to make record songs that I had written with the help of Aaron Canales (vocalist) and interpret the music that now is done under the name of Vhaldagio.

Moisés López (ESTRIL): We decided to form the band in the second half of 2015, encouraged by a collective dream of being part of the Nicaraguan music scene and having fun at concerts playing our own songs. The first achievement was the conjugation of all as members with the love of thrash metal we shared.

Rene Schock (FLESHTORTURE): Hi everyone, I am Rene Schock, Fleshtorture guitarist. I have been in the band since 2017. I am one of the newest members, because Fleshtorture started in 2004. However, my career as a metal musician goes back to 1995. Belonging to Fleshtorture has given me a lot of satisfaction in my career as a musician. It's a very stable band with a great trajectory across three studio albums. I participated in the most recent, Grotesca Doctrina de la Perversidad which makes me feel proud.

Fleshtorture was a brutal death metal band from the beginning, but they decided to change to death metal. That's when they wanted me to join the band and start to create new music with new riffs in the old-school death metal style, which I took as a very personal goal since it's the genre that I like the most and I think we managed to do it.

Yakrom (AVERSIA): Our initial goal was to record our own music and release all the material before the band or any member became known. Initially, we released our first EP and we did not reveal the members' identities. It was important that the public focused on the music and not the members of the band; therefore, our objective has always been and continues to be to record our music as we like it, aggressive, fast, with lyrics that speak about the common person and the miserable characteristics typical of their human nature.

Juan Castellón (DYING INSIDE): In 2007 two of the founders were playing heavy metal in another band, so Dying Inside was a side project to experiment with darker and heavier metal for us but quickly we got accepted by the fans, so we left our former band to dedicate our full time to Dying Inside.

David García (RAPAZ): When I formed Rapaz with two friends of mine, Javier and Nestor, I already had many songs written and waiting to be arranged. Then Oscar joined to play the drums. Javier and my original goal were to sound like some of our Argentinian metal influences. On September 30th, we are planning to release our first EP titled D.R.A.L.O.

Jorge Morales (AGÜIZOTES): When the band was formed, back in 2002, we were very young, and all we really wanted was to have a good time and show the people who watched us that we could do things, that we had skills, and that we could sound like the bands we admired. Then, as time went on, the goals started to rise, and we began to dream of being the best, of being a well-known band in our national scene.

How popular is metal music with its subgenres in your country these days? Are metalheads something one can see walking in the streets among the so-called regular people, wearing shirts from Maiden to Cannibal Corpse to Darkthrone, etc.?

José Nicaragua (VHALDAGIO): Metal music in my country had its best times in previous years. These days, you can still see small groups of metalheads in everyday life, but of course, it is much better when you get to meet them at metal concerts.

Moisés López (ESTRIL): Compared to about 10 or 15 years ago, the metal scene has dwindled both in the number of bands and people who enjoy the genre, displaced by indie rock or alternative rock in the concert scene, and other, non-related genres in musical tastes in general. In the streets, metalheads are hardly seen or heard talking about new bands within metal. However, there are still places where metalheads meet to hang out, share, attend concerts or simply enjoy an atmosphere with metal music.

Rene Schock (FLESHTORTURE): Today in our country, metal music is more accepted than 10 or 20 years ago, although I think that this has not only happened here, you know? The Internet has changed the game in favor of metal worldwide. In Nicaragua about 30 years ago, metal was not heard as much, however, the few of us who were involved in it did it from the heart. Today there are more metalheads, I have no doubt, but I think there are also some who use it as a fashion. You can see in the streets some young people wearing band t-shirts, as you mention, but if you ask some if they know the song titles, they don't know how to answer. It's sad, but it's the truth.

In the end, I can say that there is a metal community in our country and despite all the economic problems, we do the best we can to keep the flame of metal burning. Bands creating good music, people organizing concerts, supporting and listening to new music.

Yakrom (AVERSIA): Unfortunately, no, it is not at all common to see metal shirts in public anywhere in Nicaragua. In general, listening to or going to metal music concerts is synonymous with a disastrous, drunk, and destructive subculture. It is extremely difficult to find a single place to perform metal events, even worse than in the past. Today all we have are cover bands focused on music from 20 years ago. Possibly it is something innate in the Nicaraguan psyche that we continue talking about events that happened a long time ago (an earthquake that devastated our capital 50 years ago is still relevant news today) and unfortunately the organizers that remain have accentuated this gap for their own benefit, offering events with lousy and low production costs that emphasize the dirty image of the heavy metalhead. Unfortunately, when there is direct monetary benefit, the rest does not matter, similar to wanting to talk with a blind man about the color of the sky. So no, it's not easy to see, produce music or live life under the conviction of the metalhead.

Juan Castellón (DYING INSIDE): Metal music is very obscure, misunderstood, and unpopular for the people in Nicaragua. Maybe just one out of a dozen knows that metal music even exists these days. But there is a very small group of people that enjoy this music and will support the local bands very loyally.

David García (RAPAZ): The popularity of metal music in Nicaragua has dropped drastically compared to the '90s. That decade was the strongest for the metal subgenres in Nicaragua. Nowadays it is almost impossible to see a person wearing metal band shirts on the streets. We only have a bunch of these pseudo-metalheads walking on the streets who pretend to be real metalheads. They dress like surfers, rappers, or hip-hop artists. It's a rotten metal scene that we have these days in our country.

Jorge Morales (AGÜIZOTES): Metal is something popular in our country, and in the major cities, it's likely that you'll find someone wearing t-shirts of famous bands, including national bands. It's not strange at all, although it's not extremely common or mainstream, there is a significant number of metal and rock fans in Nicaragua.

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

José Nicaragua (VHALDAGIO): I am proud of the fact that many people like our music and it is accepted by metalheads and even by some who are not metalheads. We have tried so hard to get our music out to everyone and the humblest way possible as we do not have many economic resources, but a great musical spirit in all of us to make music.

Moisés López (ESTRIL): Currently the greatest achievements as a band have been the brotherhood between the members, the discipline to rehearse, and the production of new material for recording, which although a little slow, we have carried out to share with the public and evolve in our musical quality.

Rene Schock (FLESHTORTURE): I am personally proud to have supported the metal scene in my city, León, in the mid-90s. I used to save to buy instruments for my band, but after it disintegrated, I dedicated myself to renting my equipment for rehearsals at my house. The charge was something symbolic and I used it to buy more equipment. Almost all the bands from the city came to practice and many bands were born there in my house, which makes me very proud.

Another project that makes me proud was recording an album for the band Cabal, Cabalistica Engendracion del Mal, recorded in 1999 in my home studio at the time. Today that album is considered a true pillar of Nicaraguan death metal.

Regarding the present, I am proud to belong to Fleshtorture, to have recorded an album with them and to be signed to a foreign label, which is Brute Productions from Thailand. We are in the process of creating our next album which will be released in 2024, the 20th anniversary of the band.

Yakrom (AVERSIA): Having survived 26 years producing, making, writing, recording, and living metal music, this is our greatest achievement. Being one of the few that are still here, having recorded six albums in the same metal genre, having our own facilities, producing our music under our rules and thinking about what we want to do next.

Juan Castellón (DYING INSIDE): We released our full album in 2012, which still sounds very decent considering the technology back in those days. Over here there are very few artists that can achieve a full album. Also, we were the main headliner for some major musical festivals in our city. We also recorded some music videos for posterity.

David García (RAPAZ): I am proud of being in the Nicaraguan metal scene for a year now with my band Rapaz. Like I mentioned, we have some songs recorded and our first song, "Dead and Buried" reached the top spot on the metal charts on a local radio, and it stayed in this position for 11 weeks. We are also invited to play in Costa Rica in November and December this year.

Jorge Morales (AGÜIZOTES): I'm proud to be in the most important female metal vocal band nationally. Our only EP, Catalepsia, is well known on national metal radio and now on social media. As a band, we have achieved many things, such as being the opening act for bands like José Andrea Uroboros this past October, and before that, we were the opening act for Ángeles del Infierno and Paul Di'Anno, among others. Agüizotes has been a finalist in the battle of the bands a few years ago, and recently, we had a reunion concert that was well attended and accepted by both young and old school metal fans.

If I visited Nicaragua as a casual tourist, which would be the essential (metal) pubs and/or venues you'd introduce me to, knowing I am a metalhead who's seeking some cool places to hang around and perhaps even see some local metal bands live?

José Nicaragua (VHALDAGIO): In our capital, Managua, there are several places where you can listen to very good music, and some of them that also present live music, normally during weekends and they are perfect to go and see a metal band.

Moisés López (ESTRIL): Although there are metalhead-themed venues in other cities, such as La Frontera in the city of Granada, most metalhead pubs in the country are located in Managua, the capital. The most common and pleasant places to visit are Ron Kon Rolas, Rock Munchies Bar and Restaurant, Licenciado Cantinas and Rock House Bar in Zona Hippos, in the center of Managua. There are several more sites throughout the capital, but the ones mentioned above are the main ones.

Rene Schock (FLESHTORTURE): Unfortunately, there are not many places to offer, at least not in my city. There are no metal pubs but maybe some places where you can listen to some rock, but not metal. It's sad, but that's the way it is. All the pubs and bars in my city are places where they listen to all kinds of music except metal, but if you go to the capital, Managua, you can find some places where you have a great time. I know two pubs, Rock House Bar and Ron Kon Rolas, that have a good atmosphere. In the latter, local band concerts are often held.

Yakrom (AVERSIA): Honestly none. In Nicaragua there is no essential metal place that I can recommend. What's more, currently metal music as such practically does not exist in our country. Few bands are still fighting and doing their thing, but a good physical place to go and have a beer with good metal music with good sound, good atmosphere, good facilities, etc. does not exist. They existed at one time, but today it is not possible. If you were to come to Nicaragua as a tourist, we would prefer that you come to our facilities and then we personally take you to the places where our music is still alive and present, not necessarily bars or pubs, but where the metalhead still breathes is his pure form.

Juan Castellón (DYING INSIDE): Man, that's hard to answer. The political crisis changed a lot of things on my city and some cool pubs now are closed (Ambrosia Café Bar and Choza Nica). I don't know if there are some rock bars in the capital, but in my city (Estelí) since 2018 the metal bands and rock/metal venues are dead and gone.

David García (RAPAZ): OK, we have a few places in our country that are considered the places where you can hear some metal music played and off the top of my head, they are Ron Kon Rolas, The Mamuth Pub, Rock House, Licenciado Cantinas and Mystic Bar & Lounge.

Jorge Morales (AGÜIZOTES): If you come to Nicaragua, I recommend visiting Ron Kon Rolas and In The House, that are both great places to listen to metal and catch a live performance here in Managua.









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