La Vida Es Un Mus
I am constantly at war with the immediate need to genrefy everything that floats through the invisible waves of sound to eventually settle heavily on my brain. This occurs even when an artist is entirely unclassifiable. It’s especially discomfiting when a lot of what I hear has no such relatable effect. Hell, I’d even push that so far as to say that most of what I hear in passing has no resounding or lasting impact on me emotionally or even philosophically.
It’s no surprise then that when I listen to ‘Metamorfosi’ by Barcelona’s Una Bèstia Incontrolable that it immediately and intrinsically harkens back to some of the more challenging works of audial art that I’ve summarily been subjected to since my obsession with music first took hold. Neurosis’ ‘Souls At Zero’ would be a fine initial point of reference along with the epic masterpiece ‘Lach!’ by the German avant-crust group Ambush. ‘Il Seme Della Devianza’ by Italian anarchist collective Contropotere, too, and I’d be remiss not to drop Rorschach’s ‘Protestant’ in that same hat. But this mammoth of sound also reminds me of Neu! and Sonic Youth by proxy, Faust and Ararat probably because the latter is Argentinian which is in no way the same as Una Bèstia Incontrolable being fucking Spanish…
I’ve spent this time rambling instead of conveying what this album even sounds like. I think at its heart it’s only classifiable as punk because that’s the scene from which the members hail… specifically under the crust banner with names like Mobcharge and Totälickers under their belts. This is journey music, though, fit for entrancement. Full of swells and climaxes and build-ups and crescendos. It is music meant to see the listener surpass insurmountable odds under the guise of being meditatively dour and taciturn.
Guillem Cortés’ guitars are a cacophonous tornado of HM2 fed distortion overdriven by a Way Huge Swollen Pickle. That’s speculation, of course, but his playing is sinewy and snakelike when soloing which recalls the forlorn and melancholic soundtracks accompanying the films of Leone, Corbucci or Castellari. It’s an evocation not often achieved within punk, let alone other styles of subversive music.
The bass playing is a driving pulse, propelled by Daniel Muerte here to keep the rest of the composition from flying off the rails along with the militaristic rhythms of Letxón’s percussion. Both elements driving steadily and increasing in urgency until the few moments where Una Bèstia Incontrolable is unleashed into a flurry of hardcore madness and cacophony.
Probably one of the most important elements of the album, or really anything touched by the band, is the inimitable vocals of Xavi, whose cadence and accents watermark the album and give it even further distinction from their hardcore peers. His lyrics are deceptively inaccessible and are printed both in the native Spanish as well as English and their seeming simplicity belies the need to be more verbose. His topics are heady to say the least, encompassing all manner of ego, emotive and exasperated lamentations of urbanization and the loss of cultural identity. I expect, though, that due to the prose, the lyrical meaning of the album will be interpreted differently by any who listen.
Suffice to say I am enthralled by this release. It’s so many things without conforming to any sort of genre convention or disappointing predictability that often weighs heavily upon offerings within the punk or metal worlds. It’s challenging without sacrificing accessibility, uplifting in its quandary of philosophy or humanity. An aural blast of desert-toned fuzzy warmth and fucking bleakness of the concrete jungle stealing culture and identity. It’s stellar, and in short one of the most compelling things I think I’ll have the privilege to hear in 2017.