28 Dec 2021 - Thorsten
Progressive Sludge Metal | Repose Records | Release date: 25 Jun 2021
I honestly hate it when things like the following happen. I literally hate it and I will also later one tell you why. One of my most hated “events” is when at the end of the year someone claims to have found that one record from that year that we should all listen to because it is the record of the year - and I have never heard about the record or the band. Being curious me I have to check it out and now comes that “hate” moment – the person on social media was right! Maybe this is not THE album of 2021, but shit, it’s really, really good because it stills my eclectic mindset like only a few have done in 2021. And we here at VoS urgently need someone from South America to prevent us from not listening to records like Papangu’s amazing Holoceno! Urgently!!
As soon as I got through with like half of the first spin of Papangu’s full-length debut Holoceno I was taken aback by what I heard: This band from America’s eastern-most point (a place called João Pessoa in Brazil which was also appointed by UNESCO as an important city of handicraft) gives us basically every style known in the metal dictionary on this record. And everything under the helm of progressive metal in the Fall of Troy-sense which implies that it’s leaning much more to the (partially) hardcore-infused side. But the band even hits on the noir jazz side of things with the title track which also ends the records with a long elegant form of Latin style. A bit as if Candy Dulfer was doing a jam with Carlos Santana to the somewhat tricky beats of Timbaland, when he was still relevant. Interestingly it sounds as if there were two tracks with horn instruments used in this song – one accompanying the drums and one for the melody. These 10 minutes were some of the most interesting I heard in 2021 – too late, damn.
However, let’s not purvey the impression of having to deal with some Brazilian form of Noir Jazz – this record is heavy and it shows its roots on its sleeves, yes. You find loads of tribal drumming and percussion on this record – which is interesting as it was not done by a Brazilian, not even in Brazil, but by Norwegian drummer Torstein Lofthus! The famous jazz and fusion drummer recorded his drums in Oslo and one can hear his experience and perfect timing on this record because if he wasn’t that good and the drumming on Holoceno was a bit off, the whole record would be nothing but utter chaos.
As we are already speaking about “famous” people involved – Toby Driver remixed one of the tracks and James Plotkin has worked his mastering magic so that the whole thing also sounds darn good! (Note to self: get James to send you a note for every album he’s involved in!) The way this record jumps from style to style with the help of either blastbeat attacks or slightly distorted elements (for example in the second track ”Água Branca”) is really breathtaking. That they are then also self-confident enough to have ”São Francisco” and its uptempo drums, the shifty guitar work and the death-metal vocals as the third track is also a sign that they know about their skills.
The lyrics are also something that intrigues me about the record – for they are in Portuguese and I do not understand a word of it That certainly gives Papangu a bonafide bonus for being kind of exotic to my ears when it comes to the lyrics, however it should be noted that the clean vocals are highly melodious and also the growls and high-pitched screams (note ”Terra Arrasada”) are not unusual on this record but rather perfect add-ons to a sound, dominated by the fusion-like drumming, the swirling guitars and sometimes the moog (listen to their perfect 70s soundalike with track four, ”Bacia Das Almas” - which brings them pretty close to, dare I say it, The Mars Volta?).
This band is something that everybody, EVERYBODY, should be listening to! I was late to the party and it bothers me a lot! And as I said it before – we urgently need some reviewer from South America to not let something like this happen again! Papangu, ladies and gentlemen, Papangu rule! Muito obrigado, rapazes!