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Los Gritos de Mayo: A Mexican Underground Heavy Metal Primer

Kevin Winter, Getty Images

As the greatest drinking holiday the United States ever concocted on behalf of Mexico arrives this Cinco de Mayo, Noisecreep seizes the chance to celebrate the most powerful, repulsive, and violent underground metal bands Mexico has presented to the world over the past 25 years. Save your mariachi music for your office party, this is how the real metal faithful get down South of the border.

¡Cheque la lista abajo!

Raped God 666 – “Massive Destruction Attack” from The Executioner

Whether or not you are celebrating any kind of holiday, a blistering dose of bullet-belted death/thrash is always a great start to a day, and so this modern-day assault squad gets our Mexican metal playlist going. These are the artists formerly known as Raped God, by the way, the 666 was added like an extra lashing to drive the point home.

Strike Master – “Black Violence” from Vicious Nightmare

One of the more recent entries on this playlist, Strike Master are a modern-day thrash metal flashback visiting high-speed violence upon a complacent and quiet world. For years, thrash metal seemed like a default setting for Mexican metal bands. Strike Master transcends the genre with frantic intensity.

The Chasm – “Revenge Rises” from Drowned in the Mournful Blood

The sole Mexican band to have been featured on the cover of Norway’s infamous Slayer Mag, The Chasm are a muscular and esoteric colossus of metal magic. They are unpredictable and savage, and totally effective at capturing metal at its most possessed and manic.

Cenotaph – “As the Darkness Borns” from Epic Tales

Though Cenotaph’s tortured screams over intricate guitar melodies sounds common in 2012, back in 1996 it was rare to hear anybody but Dissection or At the Gates pull off such a precise fusion of Iron Maiden and death metal. Close your eyes and ask yourself – where were you in 1996, when the dam began to burst?

Xibalba – “Xibalba” from Demo

Though only infrequently active, Xibalba has existed for over twenty years, and stands out in the annals of black metal for their cut of Mayan imagery and lyrical themes. I’m honestly totally in the dark about where this song comes from, but the combination of Mexican pyramids, carvings, churches, and corpse paint works in the same way that Viking imagery did for Norway’s bands.

Megaton – “Vida Despues de la Muerte” from Megaton

Though the Mexican metal scene went international with the advent of death and black metal, the original heavy metal wave included probably hundreds of enthusiastic headbangers like Megaton. These hombres released one album in 1988, and everything from the nuclear album art to the band member’s haircuts brings to mind a raging 1980s metal hoedown complete with cheap cassettes blasting from open pickup truck windows. ¡Viva el Megaton!

Toxodeath – “Voodoo Insanity” from Phantasms

Epic moshing from this horror obsessed trio, “Voodoo Insanity” hails from a recent discography release that recaps Toxodeth’s mid-1980s contributions to Mexican underground metal. Like the best of the bands on this playlist, Toxodeth pushes the envelope in some crude way, stitching chunks of metal together to create their own morbid atmosphere.

Shub Niggurath – “Zatanazombie” from Evilness and Darkness Prevails

One of Mexico’s original death metal crews, Shub Niggurath’s first demo tape surfaced in 1990. This early track summons universal death metal influences like Celtic Frost, Autopsy, and Satanism. Although the feeling is familiar, Shub Niggurath are true underground originals, melding various tempos and styles into an elaborate attack.

Sabacthani – “The Reformer” from The Reformer EP

Mexican bands are great at the deathly and thrashing contests, but here’s a melodic Gothenburg-style turn from Sabacthani, a five-piece from Mexico city who ride the riffs like a deadlier version and more sinning version of 3 Inches of Blood.

Disgorge – “Chronic Corpora Infest” from Gore Blessed to the Worms

Now that’s just downright disgusting… unless you’re talking about tequila worms, anyway. For those of you who thought “Disgorge Mexico” was nothing more than the title of an album by Canadian grindcore band Fuck the Facts -this is is how they’ll find you on May 6: puréed in the gore-grinder!

Ian Christe is the author of Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal, and the publisher of Bazillion Points Books, home to modern classics like Swedish Death Metal, Mean Deviation, Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries, and Eligiendo Muerte: La improbable historia del death metal y grindcore, por Albert Mudrian.

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