Album Review – Quilombo / Itankale EP (2019)

The history and evolution of Afro-descendants told by the black hands of a ruthless Death Metal and Grindcore unity from Brazil.

Formed in 2018 by drummer and vocalist Panda Reis (Oligarquia, Armagedom, Brigada do Ódio, Heresia 666), who’s also involved in several amazing endeavors such as an educational and cultural project named Coyote Vive, and guitarist and bassist Allan Kallid (Oligarquia) in São Paulo, the most populous city in Brazil and one of the biggest cities in the world, Death Metal/Grindcore unity Quilombo is among us to tell the evolution of Afro-descendants all over the world as well as the technological history from the African continent in their debut EP, entitled Itankale. Their main objective with Itankale is not political, though, but to unveil the truth about the African slaves taken from their homelands, from their people and from their culture to live a new reality in Brazil, the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery, using the most underground of all music styles, our relentless Heavy Metal, as the perfect soundtrack for their speech.

Featuring an impactful artwork by Brazilian artist Artur Fontenelle, showing some of the greatest icons in the African-American history, and recorded and mixed at O Beco Estudio, Itankale is the voice of the voiceless, telling the history of slavery from the standpoint of the slaves themselves, who were discriminated, persecuted, tortured, raped and killed, but that never gave up, surviving an endless period of pain in the hands of the white man. Furthermore, according to Panda and Allan themselves, Quilombo are not trying to generate any controversy, fights or turmoil with other people, but to provide the view of those who were not allowed to write or speak to anyone about their reality. Based on historical sources that have been ignored until now purely due to ideological and political issues to maintain the status quo, Quilombo will crush your senses with their visceral Death Metal in Itankale, writing with their own black hands about all the suffering and sorrow that haunted the souls of their African ancestors for centuries.

In the opening track, simply titled Melanina (or “melanin” in English), we already face an intro that’s completely different from everything you might have ever heard, showcasing intonations and vocalizations inspired by the African culture before exploding into a sonic devastation overflowing rebelliousness and rage, led by Panda’s demented drumming and sick growls while Allan cuts our skin deep with his riffs. Put differently, this is one of those songs that will leave a mark on your psyche, sounding very unique and raw like the music found in Sepultura’s masterpiece Roots. Ancestralidade (“ancestry”) is another song with an eccentric intro that morphs into a carnivorous feast of Death Metal where Panda smashes his drums like a beast, also vociferating the song’s austere lyrics deeply and rabidly and with guest Binho Gerônimo bringing an extra kick to the music with his tribal percussion, followed by Treze Nações (“thirteen nations”), showcasing a capoeira-inspired intro and of course sheer savagery in the form of Death Metal and Grindcore, sounding as fast and heavy as it can be. Needless to say, Panda shows no mercy for his drums while Allan is on fire with his riffs, with their already violent musicality being effectively spiced up by guest Guilherme Sorbello’s deranged vocals.

Once again paying a powerful tribute to their Africa roots and their music, Descendentes de Reis (“descendants of kings”) reminds me of some of the most brutal creations by their countrymen Ratos de Porão, which obviously translates into awesomeness, whereas in Semideusas (“demigods”) it’s time to talk (and growl) about the importance of women in the African culture, flirting with old school Punk Rock. In addition, the wicked guitar riffs and solos by Allan mixed with Panda’s infernal roars provide the listener all that’s needed for some brutal slamming into the circle pit. And closing the EP we have Diáspora D.C. (“diaspora A.D.”), bringing hints of classic Reggae music in its intro but again quickly morphing into one final blast of aggressive and frantic Death Metal, with Panda sounding truly enraged on vocals and with its primeval, tribal finale putting a glorious ending to the album.

If you want to put your hands on Itankale, which by the way is available for a full listen on SoundCloud, you can contact Quilombo directly through their Facebook page or by sending an email to Panda himself, with the cost of the physical copy of the album being only 10 Brazilian Reais (plus shipping costs). The band is also working on several partnerships to distribute their album all over the Brazilian territory, with stores like Paranoid Records and Die Hard Records, both located in the famous Galeria do Rock in São Paulo, already being confirmed as part of the band’s distribution list. It’s not everyday that we are able to enjoy such distinguished and meaningful album of extreme music, and let’s hope that Quilombo keep giving a (heavy and thunderous) voice to all Afro-descendants for many years to come, it doesn’t matter if they’re metalheads or not.

Best moments of the album: Melanina and Treze Nações.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Poluição Sonora Records

Track listing
1. Melanina 6:44
2. Ancestralidade 4:33
3. Treze Nações 1:43
4. Descendentes de Reis 1:53
5. Semideusas 2:54
6. Diáspora D.C. 1:49

Band members
Panda Reis – vocals, drums
Allan Kalid – guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Bruno – bass (recording)
Binho Gerônimo – percussion
Guilherme Sorbello – vocals on “Treze Nações”

Album Review – Ways. / Aftermath EP (2018)

One of the most promising alternative bands from France returns with another powerful, dynamic and melodic display of modern-day rock and metal music.

After a promising career start with the release of their debut EP Watching From Afar, in 2016, Paris-based Alternative Rock/Metal act Ways. is back with the second installment of their always-evolving musical path, entitled Aftermath, an 8-track EP that brings all the band’s characteristic elements from their previous release, sounding powerful, dynamic and melodic throughout its almost 27 minutes of music.

Featuring a minimalistic and stylish artwork by Maxime Larrouturou, Aftermath once again presents an inspired band mixing several influences and styles in their music, from Alternative Rock and Metal to Post-Hardcore, while at the same time maintaining a very cohesive and solid core essence. Comprised of Clément on vocals, Bruno and Nico on the guitars, newcomer Niko on bass, and Tony on drums, Ways. are ready to strike once again with their uncompromising, unrelenting and modern music, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time listening to their unique creations in Aftermath.

Sheer melancholy flows from the guitars by Bruno and Nico in the introspective intro Twilight Until Dawn, before the band begins firing an acid message together with their aggressive, adrenaline-fueled instrumental in the modern-day Alternative Metal tune Death Row, with Clément growling the song’s lyrics in a desperate and anguished mode (“But the people around me / Don’t seem to want to play with me. / My neighbors, day after day, / Are caught, / The cages emptied and filled, / The door is closed behind me, / I believe in a game full of life and joy”). In However…, Rock N’ Roll riffs are blended with the more aggressive lines of Alternative Metal, with Tony smashing his drums and, consequently, giving the song a stronger vibe, while Clément presents some cleaner vocals amidst his furious screams; whereas in And Nobody Cares, Ways. accelerate their speed and increase their electricity, bringing hints of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore to their characteristic sonority. In a nutshell, this is the song tailored for banging your heads nonstop, thanks to the crushing riffs by Bruno and Nico and the violent beats by Tony.

So Far So Good brings forward a belligerent sound led by the razor-edged riffs by the band’s guitar duo, while bassist Niko joins Tony to create a beyond dense background. Then we have a somber, pensive instrumental bridge titled Thirteen, setting the tone for the also fierce With Love, the most alternative of all songs from the EP, ignited by the metallic bass by Niko and with Clément delivering his piercing clean vocals as well as his deranged growls while the rest of the band fires melodious and heavy sounds from start to finish. And lastly, as a bonus track the band offers us all I See No Beauty, showcasing more of their slashing Alternative Metal and Rock and presenting austere lyrics about ecology, global warming, poaching and animals mistreatment (“Dropped in the jungle, / Still so young, / I try using violence, / I test, / I experience, / I grow up and feed myself / I see no beauty in the species that made me”).

To sum up, the second step in the career of Ways. is beyond solid and promising, showcasing a band that’s even sharper and more focused than before, and if you want to show your support to this French quintet go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on YouTube, and purchase Aftermath (which is available for a full listen on Spotify or on YouTube) from the band’s own BandCamp page. I’m certain that the next step for this talented Post-Hardcore/Metal act will be the release of their first full-length album, which will represent the combination of a lot of hard work, dedication and energy, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes for that to happen, if it’s as half as good as the music found in Aftermath it will certainly be worth the wait.

Best moments of the album: Death Row and And Nobody Cares.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Twilight Until Dawn 2:01
2. Death Row 3:14
3. However… 3:13
4. And Nobody Cares 3:32
5. So Far So Good 3:44
6. Thirteen 2:20
7. With Love 6:02

Bonus track
8. I See No Beauty 2:41

Band members
Clément – vocals
Bruno – guitar
Nico – guitar
Niko – bass
Tony – drums

Album Review – Ways. / Watching From Afar EP (2016)

Mixing several influences and musical styles from Alternative Rock to Post-Hardcore, this up-and-coming French quintet might be exactly what you’re looking for in modern heavy music.

Rating5

ways_watching-from-afarMixing several influences and musical styles, French Alternative Rock/Metal act Ways. might be exactly what you’re looking for in alternative music, offering a wide variety of genres in their compositions that will please fans of heavier groups such as Deftones, Marilyn Manson and Killswitch Engage, to radio-friendly bands like Foo Fighters. And that harmonious but still fierce fusion of styles can be easily witnessed in their debut EP entitled Watching From Afar, a six-track album that nicely summarizes what Ways. are capable of, their main influences and their goals with their music.

Formed in 2013 in Paris, France, this talented quintet brings forward dynamic and melodic music displaying elements from Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal and Post-Hardcore, among others, always keeping their musicality fresh and vibrant throughout the almost 20 minutes in Watching From Afar. You’ll be positively surprised by the band due to all their sudden tempo changes and variations, going from harsh and desperate screams to gentle vocals and smooth guitar sounds. Featuring a sexy artwork by French photographer Sebastien Bessac, Watching From Afar can entertain you at a pub, at home, in your car or anywhere else good music is required.

In the opening track, titled My Blue Stain, a melodic beginning quickly turns into a blend of Metalcore and Alternative Metal, with lead singer Clément smoothly transitioning from harsh screams to clean vocals. Furthermore, it’s easy to notice influences from Deftones and In Flames, among other bands, in all instruments, which is also the case in As A Duty, showcasing a lighter side of the band with Bruno and Nico doing a great job on guitars, firing gentle lines and heavier riffs in sync with the vocals by Clément. Overflowing anguish and melancholy, this nice composition displays hints of Alternative Rock (in special during the song’s calm passages) that add an extra flavor to the overall result. And in Misty Hope, despite starting in a calm and relaxing way, vocal lines keep fierce and deranged, being recommended for fans of Foo Fighters and Deftones in pursuit of a higher level of aggressiveness in music. In addition to that, drummer Tony leads the song’s pace with his rhythmic beats, increasing its effectiveness and appeal for the delight of the listener.

waysThe title-track Watching From Afar is an instrumental track that’s more progressive and introspective than everything else in the album (and also the shortest of all songs), a nice display of dexterity by all band members leading up to the melancholic tune Something To Say…, where the groovy and smooth lines by session bassist Thomas Houche, together with the atmospheric riffs by Bruno and Nico, provide all the support for another passionate performance by Clément on vocals. Watching From Afar closes with Twenty First Sectuary, the heaviest and in my opinion the best composition of the album, getting closer to Melodic Death Metal without losing the harmony of Metalcore. Not only all guitar lines by Bruno and Nico sound amazing in this chant, but Tony also pounds his drums harder than in any other song of the album, translating into more electricity and consequently accrediting it to be one of the best options for the band’s live performances.

You can get more details on the music and career by Ways. by visiting their Facebook page, YouTube channel and Instagram, and if you want to purchase Watching From Afar, simply go to their BandCamp page for a preview of the album and to get a physical copy of it, or you can also get it on iTunes, supporting not only Ways. but the entire heavy music independent scene. As previously mentioned, Ways. can offer you a wide range of heavy, classic and soft rock in their compositions, making your day better with their pleasant musicality and showing you that Watching From Afar is just the beginning and a nice sample of what’s coming next for those talented French musicians.

Best moments of the album: My Blue Stain and Twenty First Sectuary.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. My Blue Stain 3:17
2. As A Duty 4:48
3. Misty Hope 3:17
4. Watching From Afar 2:13
5. Something To Say… 3:11
6. Twenty First Sectuary 3:39

Band members
Clément – vocals
Bruno – guitar
Nico – guitar
Elo – bass
Tony – drums

Guest musician
Thomas Houche – bass (session)