Band: Still Louder
Album: In Hostilia
In Hostilia is the debut full-length album of the Panamanian heavy metal band Still Louder. The first thing you’ll notice about them is that they sing all their songs in their native tongue, thus sparing themselves of any possible ridicule resulting from horrible attempts at writing English lyrics. And I commend them for this. Especially since – lyrically speaking – they put off the image of being a serious band and should be willing to sacrifice whatever comedic value that they would provide in writing a bunch of poorly translated English lyrics.
Still Louder are certainly on the heavier, speedier, and more aggressive side of the heavy metal spectrum, but don’t have quite the density in their music to fall into the power metal category. If anything were to place them into the power metal category, it would likely fall on the percussion, which is thick and powerful and liberal with blast beats. In fact, the percussionist is a little too liberal with the blast beats, and has a tendency to throw them in at odd times when doing so doesn’t add to the music but ends up being distracting and detracts from the presentation. Their vocalist is decent and has a nice rasp to his delivery, which fits their angry politically-charged lyrics quite well. But other than this salient quality, nothing much really stands out about him. My only real criticism of the vocals is that at times they are way too high in the mix and drown out the rhythm guitar, which to me is tantamount to the cold-blooded murder of riffs. I need to hear those things loud and clear.
After a piano and voiceover introduction, the album opens with what is possibly the strongest song on the album, “Guerras”. It starts with an absolutely killer riff and simply does not let up the whole way through. It’s absolutely perfect for an opening track and presents all their best sides, but unfortunately most of the remainder of the songs on the album pale in comparison. There are certainly other strong tracks like “La Furia” and “Mujer de Hielo”, both of which feature some fantastic riffing as well as some stellar lead guitar work. But then you have the track “Volverás” which could have been a heavy metal ballad, but somehow manages to morph into an alternative rock/grunge hybrid straight out of the nineties.
So even though this is traditional heavy metal in the grand scheme of things, it’s definitely a far more modern flavour of metal, with influences from more recent musical movements outside of metal. And whilst this by no means should be a show-stopper, it is nevertheless true that for those of us who are purists with our metal, things like this can leave a bit of a sour taste in our mouths.
Overall, this is a decent first effort, but aside from the highlight tracks there isn’t really anything super memorable here. I don’t want to give the idea that the songs are filler because I certainly don’t see them that way; they just didn’t have any staying power with me after several times through. But they weren’t repetitive of their own work or rehashed ideas from other bands’ leftovers. And when I listened to them more closely, it was clear that some effort had been put into the composition; it’s just that the final result didn’t stick to my ribs.
But don’t let that stop you from giving this album a chance. The opening and closing tracks would be worthwhile indicators of whether this would be a band that would warrant further exploration for you.
Check ’em out here: https://stilllouder.bandcamp.com/album/in-hostilia