Heavy Metal Music And Community In Puerto Rico
(Puerto Rico Heavy Metal Studies)
Rafael Hernández Colón (governor of Puerto Rico until 1993) once said: "Salsa music comes from the heart of the people of Puerto Rico, from Puerto Rico’s soul. Rock comes from the outside. Although many Puerto Ricans enjoy it, it is not a proper expression of the heart of the people." Well, I suppose he couldn’t be further from the truth, because the Metal scene overthere has been active for 30 years now and while I write these lines there’s already 136 Heavy Metal related acts from Puerto Rico listed at Metal Archives (and that not even includes regular Rock / Hardrock). But compared to Germany (9429 entries), Sweden (3893 entries), the Netherlands (2030 entries) or the rest of the United States (21374 entries) it’s still a very small scene of course. The first band I personally ever heard from Puerto Rico were melodic / progressive Hardrockers MATTADOR that released a quite impressive full length album entitled "Save Us From Ourselves" back in 1994. And over the years I also recognized names like DANTESCO, CARDINAL SIN and GODLESS… But that’s pretty much it when it comes to my knowledge about the scene down there, I guess. "Puerto Rico Heavy Metal Studies" (a group of academics and Metal fans from Puerto Rico), wanted to change that and worked on an in-depth documentary about the Heavy Metal scene on the Caribbean Island. And the result is "The Distorted Island – Heavy Metal Music And Community In Puerto Rico". The whole movie is in Spanish (with English subtitles) and was professionally shot in black and white. The language barrier makes it pretty difficult for a non native speaker to follow the movie sometimes because you have to read the subtitles all the time which often distracts from watching the actual footage. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad movie. It’s actually a pretty interesting one which kicks off with a focus on Puerto Rico’s Thrash Metallers CARDINAL SIN (the country’s very first Metal band who later relocated to Boston where they even played shows with DEATH ANGEL, FORBIDDEN, WHITE ZOMBIE, BIOHAZARD). This chapter is directly followed by lots of information about the beginning of the Christian Metal movement (with its "Metal Mission" community and early bands like XACROSAINT or DEATHLESS) and of course bands that were against all religions, like POWER LORD or DANTESCO. All that slowly but surely resulted in a very healthy scene and even gave birth to an act like PUYA, the first band from Puerto Rico that got signed by MCA Records. They play a mix of Salsa and Heavy Metal and became quite famous with several albums released and lots of bigger tours and festival appearances. The movie gets completed by features on DANTESCO (Epic Doom Metal), ORGANIC INFEST (Death Metal with two bass players and no guitars!), HUMANIST (Black Metal), GODLESS (Black Metal), DEATH ARRANGEMENT (female fronted Death / Thrash Metal) and MATRIARCH (an all female extreme Metal act). All of them include several comments from former band members and people involved in the Puerto Rican Metal underground as well as live or video footage. A little tribute to DEATH ARRANGEMENT / RABIA singer Damaris Negrón closes this highly interesting movie (she sadly passed away in 2012). "The Distorted Island" already received an Excellence Award from the Rincón International Film Festival (RIFF), so if you would like to find out more about the evolution of Metal on a Caribbean Island, it is definitely highly recommended. The whole package additionally features two audio CDs (with a total playing time of 143:03min!) that offers songs from no less than 30 Puerto Rican Metal bands (CARDINAL SIN, GODLESS, DEATHLESS, ORGANIC, PERPETUAL, SERPENTERIUM, TINIEBLAS, TAVÚ, PACTO DE SANGRE, SEPULCHRAL, ALL THAT I BLEED, INFECTORIA, SACRILEGIO, MATRIARCH, DANTESCO, AURA AZUL, ALAS NEGRAS, ATHAXIA, PIT FIGHT DEMOLITION, SACRED GUARDIAN, ABISMO NUCLEAR, SOLVO ANIMUS, THE MIRAGE THEORY, SEVERE MUTILATION, ZAFAKON, BASTARD CHAIN, DOOMLORD, PROTOCOLS, DEMENTIUM and CALAMITY). The CDs have been compiled by Voices contributor Rafael Bracero (Khaosmaster Records, Puerto Rico Metal Alliance), who did a tremendous job with it for sure! For all further info about the movie (or how you can obtain a copy of it – your DVD player needs to be able to play the NTSC format) check out www.facebook.com/thedistortedisland or www.facebook.com/puertoricoheavymetalstudies. An official trailer you will find at this location.