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Criaturas - Oscuridad Eterna

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Artist: Criaturas

Album: Oscuridad Eterna

Label: Trabuc/Lengua Armada Discos

Review date: Nov. 8, 2012

I’ve heard three great hardcore punk records in the last year, each of them drifting to my ears months after their official release. It’s as hard as ever to say what is “official” for a band at the margins. An act might get their tracks up for downloading, but when it comes to the task of gathering actual listeners, the web of gigging between crappy retail gigs, and face-to-face recommendations still matters as much as the capital-W Web. While the Internet has done a lot for mobility, momentum still gathers around bands in the biggest music scenes. The time for a set of recordings to reach the crowd that’s gonna love them can still take years.

The first record that got me this year came from Rational Animals. Their Bock Rock Parade comes the closest of these bands to artfulness, with big polluted clouds of pencil-neck dude grief floating over the metalized tone. Record No. 2 was Primitive, pure massholes-and-elbows pitboss work from Boston Strangler. Both of those records made appearances on Still Single. So lets talk about Criaturas’ Oscuridad Eterna.

Criaturas is from Austin, have played low on the Chaos in Tejas bill, and look to have spread their screeching as far as Portland and Prague. Oscuridad Eterna had a vinyl run, and you can stream it (but not buy it) on Bandcamp. The vinyl was put out first in Spain, then by one of the guys in Los Crudos, and like that Chicago band, Criaturas are Americans singing in Spanish.

This stuff will never get near the ears of those it would annoy, but just knowing that Texas thrash is alive, well and barking en Español messes with the right verities of Red State America. Yet, what Criaturas does isn’t so dependent on the legibility of lyrics. This is the sort of record where each measure feels faster than the last. It’s about sounding committed. While my grasp of Spanish is mooey mal, I don’t feel left out. Surely that’s how the earliest hardcore sounded to kids around the world who were cribbing their English from Kojak when they sent their demos off to Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The theme and opener “Criaturas,” as with lot of the songs, works like first-gen HC. It’s a pogo that moves too fast. The tempo is ratcheted just past the point where you could land in time to spring for the next beat. Guitars run through known chords, but the chokehold of the marching prevents them from breathing easy. Breathing is left to Dru Molina. Her screech is at the center of what keeps even the most jittery tracks on course. Hardcore singers don’t need to do much beyond locking into a range that cuts through distortion, but Monlina provides more than angry froth. She’s uncommonly rhythmic for this kinda stuff. When the band is at its most furious, like the three-song pileup near the end of the record, she’s still working off the riffs. Or rather, she’s part of them; her yelps land along the upstrokes. As I first realized with the Juanita y los Feos album earlier this year, Spanish syllables have an advantage over English when punk accelerates.

There are very few resting points on this record, but its 18 minutes feel complete. Tracks like “Esperanza” suggest this band could loosen up without getting soft. It’s as close as they come to melodic, and it shows off some creative playing that is hard to make out when the discharge is gushing. But enough talk about the future. This is the now.

By Ben Donnelly

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