The history of Heavy Metal in Peru is a long & winding road paved with adversity & conflict plus unbridled enthusiasm overcoming all odds in the quest for the ultimate killer riff. This search assists its practitioners in ushering an alternate reality, thereby transcending the everyday banality of daily life in the capital of Lima & it's surrounding provinces. Earlier groundwork is laid in the 1970's by such greats as TARKUS & PAX, both heavy rock bands that help foster a tradition of electric guitar-based music in the nation's consciousness. By the time the 80's rolls around, a vicious trifecta effect of terrorism/corrupt government/drug trafficking coupled with outrageous inflation & social inequality, all point to Peru heading down a one way apocalyptic path to hell in a handbasket.
This is not exactly fertile ground to get a group going with your fellow headbanging enthusiasts. Kudos to the bands that persevered during those dark days. Apart from the everyday terror of car-bombs & political violence. On a musical level; they also had to deal with rudimentary equipment/studios, frequent electricity outages, makeshift concerts, a hostile society at large that did not know what to make of long hair, loud music & "occult" lyrical themes.
I've chosen to highlight 10 of what I consider the most important bands of that tumultuous decade. They are evenly split between the early nwobhm/hard rock inspired ones to black/death metal groups & the trash/crossover contingent. Scene veterans will argue about a particular band's omission, but for the sake of brevity, these are my choices. As always, a little blurb is included for each band, but I'll let the music do the talking. At the end you'll find links for every imaginable band that ever gave the devil's horns salute in the land of the Incas.
Classic NWOBHM inspired band that formed in '84 & like most groups from that period, left no vinyl documentation, just a demo from '87. The following song is a call to arms for the Metal Militia in Lima. They periodically play out & as of this writing, their singer Aris “Coco” Gonzales joins fellow 80’s titans ARMAGEDON on stage, bringing his charismatic vocal stylings to old & new fans alike.
”Llegaron Los Guerreros Del Metal..."
These guys existed from '82 to '85 & always considered themselves a hard rock band with Metal flourishes. Their brief lifespan influenced countless bands, laying down the foundation for a thriving scene. This song is a new recording, in 2012, of an old tune. Proper documentation of all their material will be out by the end of the year. For now you can pick up their new split 7" with current Doom merchants DON JUAN MATUS here:
One of the few bands that actually managed to release an lp in '88. They've persevered throughout the years, updating their earlier Priest/Maiden sound to fit contemporary stylings. They relocated out of the country for a spell, then moved back to Lima & underwent various line-up changes, the only constant being the founding Tuesta brothers & their vision of flying the Metal flag. Case in point is this tune from a rare '84 cassette.
As the situation in Peru deteriorated by the mid-80's, bands responded in equal measure by making their music as brutal as possible. These dark lords formed in '86 & laid down some of the most extreme sounds of that era. Euronymous from Mayhem wanted to put their material out, unfortunately that never came about, but they did release several lp's throughout the years & are currently active. Their legendary "Guerreros De La Muerte" demo from 1986 recently came out on Nuclear War Now! records.
Long standing (since '86) black/death metal practitioners & still going strong to this day. Their brutal sound inspired an international following, leading them to become the first Peruvian Metal band to sign to a german label in the 90's & tour continuously throughout Europe & the US. A tribute record called "Death Rules Supreme" came out a couple of years ago featuring 11 international bands covering their songs, showing the extent of their influence. Their recent US tour in 2012 brought them to Brooklyn, NY with their bestial live sound on full display.
One of the earliest extreme Death Metal bands, formed in 1984. They did not get to release an actual demo until ‘92. No good quality recordings exist of their earlier extreme beginnings, just memories of their raucous live shows. Somewhere along the way they started to incorporate longer musical passages interlaced with Peruvian folk instruments such as flutes/wind pipes. The end result, that thrives to this day, is a unique synthesis of Andean mystical themes with a heavy progressive vibe that updates & expands the Metal tradition in Peru. RIP to keyboard player Georgy Espiritu, who sadly passed away in 2012. The following is a tune off their 1999 lp “Testimonios”.
Trash metal legends that existed from '87 to '89. Their raw sound combined HC/Punk & Metal in the best crossover fashion. The members later went on to NOVA LIMA, an Afro-Peruvian folk ensemble that's gained international acclaim. Curriculum Mortis have recently reunited & are playing live shows to coincide with the vinyl Lp reissue of their amazing "Sentencia De Muerte" demo from '87. The Lp is available from the Ultra-Sonido imprint out of Massachusetts.
The parallel 80's HC scene in Lima saw varied interaction with the Metal hordes so it was only natural that a band with roots in both camps would appear. Formed by the drummer of HC titans ATAQUE FRONTAL & members of Trash purveyors SEPULCRO. Situacion Hostil's crossover sound appealed to thrashers of all stripes, leaving in their wake a legacy of memorable concerts & this killer demo from '88, which was reissued as a split cd with HC maniacs KAOS GENERAL in 1999.
A great bay area trash influenced band that got together in '86. They put out a couple of demos, 1st one in '89 & a later one with English lyrics in '90. Technically precise riffs & longer groove-oriented time signatures separated these guys from the earlier strain of classic Metal or the more extreme sounds. This relaxed & confident pace is a fitting soundtrack to the end of that decade & the turning point of the 1990 presidential elections plus other factors that helped pull the country out of its self-inflicted downward spiral.
I have to include one more to the list, the aforementioned PAX in the beginning of this piece. A sentimental favorite, they started out in 1970 as a heavy guitar based pyschedelic rock band & put out a legendary fuzz laden Lp. In 1984 they released this 7" that shows the NWOBHM influence updating their hard rock sound. Whether they know it or not, heavy metal bands in Peru owe a huge debt of influence to these pioneers.
Here’s to the warriors from those days that toiled sweat, blood & tears to make their visions come true. There are tons of other bands that deserve mention like SACRA, MAZO, ALMAS IMMORTALES, SENTENCIA, ARMAGEDON, JERUSALEN, MORTORIO, PENITENCIA, GRAEL, DESARME, HASTUR, DHARMA, DESASTRE, ANAL VOMIT, INSANER..& that’s just bands from the 80’s, the story is being written as we speak.
For an extensive list of bands old/new, check Encyclopedia Metallum:
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