I wrote a piece called Heavy Metal, Masculinity, and Me for an online magazine called Weiss Guy. The articles are relevant, personal, and political. I am proud to be part of the launch. Here is the link, you will find my piece under ‘Guest Writer’.
The most compelling compliment a writer can get is feedback in discussion. Efe shares his knowledge of Chilean metal.
The Chilean Metal History, Francisco “Efe” Montecinos
In the early 80’s the young lads of the big cities that had enough money to travel abroad had their first glimpse of Thrash Metal. They started gathering together and tape trading began. As years passed, Thrash Metal became something more popular, and people started recording tapes (at those times it was impossible to get your hands on certain records here). The same thing happened with patches; people started creating their own.
The first Chilean Metal Bands arose, bands like Necrosis (our pioneer thrash metal band that is still in the business, I had the opportunity to speak with their drummer who is the only person to sell Dean Guitars and Ddrums in our country). Massakre and other bands started getting gyms and municipal spaces for gigs; which was a problem; to get those spaces they had to lie saying they played “altiplanic traditional music”. When they actually played on stage, all hell broke loose.
Chilean fans lived in a very secluded society which Metalheads were looked down upon, even feared, leading to anger and THRASH! During gigs, people hung from the ceiling in gyms (no kidding here) fights were normal and most of the time the shows were incomplete because of the havoc on and near the stage. After those gigs, the Chilean thrash army rode to the streets still moshing (no kidding here either) and police started being harder on them.
I was at a conference and asked Massakre’s leader the weirdest thing that ever happened at a gig. During the show, people started jumping onstage and moshing (which is a pain in the ass if you’re playing guitar or singing) so he hit some random guy and a huge battle started. The police came and the band had to unplug their stuff, get in their van and run away (Bonnie & Clyde style). They also had a mascot called “The Bestial Fucker”. That poor guy always got caught, beat, and came back for more.
Chilean Metal fans were hardcore, violent machines of thrash. This, and the sociopolitical hard times that were passing (at those times Chile was at the edge of a civil war) made life for metalheads a little bit difficult. The police went berserk on them because they thought metalheads were criminals, which lead to more anger, and more violence turning hardcore metal fans into types of guerrilla leaders. Happily it wasn’t THAT bad because the police usually threatened metalheads with closing music stores (we only had a few at the time). Upon that threat, Metalheads settled down a bit.
Fanzines were one of the main pillars in the Metal scene, because they were THE ONLY WAY in which you could learn about other bands and legends such as Exodus, Megadeth, Slayer, etc, and also about local Metal bands and gigs.
Metalzines were very important for Chilean Metalheads, because they were the voice of our kin, the roar from the northwest, the calling of Metal, and we shared (I say we, because at that time I was around 5 or 6 years old and I was part of it) our duty as Metalheads, to spread the fire (as fuelled by fire would say xD) and keep the roar going. We photocopied these fanzines and gave them to every metalhead we saw on the street.
The society and the police had an eye on metalheads. Fanzines were like a dark, secret society. With time, things began to calm down a bit. The police and society started to see us as a group of kids who wanted to have fun in a different way; a bit of a violent way, but different than the norm at the time.
Peace eventually came for everyone and the tape trading transferred to public places (which are still reunion centres for Metalheads). Fanzines and tapes were distributed everywhere and Metalheads ruled. People had an image of Metalheads as Rebel Cowboys from Hell who wanted to have fun while being possessed by music (not very different from what we are though XD) but respect came anyway.
With time posers appeared and hip-hop arrived with full strength, but you could still see the same Metalheads who were carried to prison during the hard times of Chilean Metal; the same fans that had cigarettes burnt in their skin at the hands of the police, who were banned from some cities downtown. These same people are now working, making records, and spreading the roar and the love for Metal. As weird as it may sound, making Metal is all about Love.
That’s a short story about how things were here, but recently a book was published with very awesome material (which Chilean Metalheads read with nostalgia). The book explains the scene in more detail, taking us back to the dark days of Chilean Metal; full of violence, adrenaline and of course, LOTS of Metal!
The book is called Retrospectiva al Metal Chileno (1983-1993) “the first ten years of National Thrash” which is something more or less the “Retrospective to Chilean Metal”. It’s a huge seller here. They also have a collector’s version which comes with a Vinyl of the TOP TEN most influential songs of the time; pretty good stuff with national bands like Atomic Aggressor, Rust/Warpath, Squad, D.T.H., Darkness, Belial, Betrayed and many more.
And that’s the story of how Metal came to life here; through violence, hope, and Metal Heroes who fought against all odds and the Love for Metal.
Here’s a Review of the book in Spanish:
Retrospectiva Al Metal Chileno