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Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Costa Rican Scene Pt. 2

Let's once again take a look at my former residence of Costa Rica as we bring you a scene report from this Central American country. In the past forty years, travelers from all over have been making it a vacation hotbed. Celebrities own homes there, drawn in by the fabulous ocean, weather, mountains and night life. Many metal bands also make Central and South America prerequisite stops on their tours now. Even bands with little or no label support are financing small club gigs and have made Costa Rica one of their stops.

Whiplash will be making its first appearance ever in the isthmus nation on November 16th at Pepper's Club in Curridabat. Not only is guitarist/vocalist Tony Portaro determined to bring his old school thrash to the Ticos - he is just as hell bent on a fishing expedition. An avid troller of New Jersey rivers, Tony can sling a Minn Kota electric motor just as efficiently as his axe and plans on going up to the northern gulf of the Caribbean to do some serious Marlin fishing.

Similarly, brutal metal personality Shaun LaCanne never misses a chance to visit another country with Putrid Pile and sample all the local beers. Along with hitting Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Mexico, he took his Putrid Stench Of Death Over Central America tour to a club in San Pedro, Costa Rica on August 31st. He liked it so much that he played two nights and had local fans Roberto and El Diablo doing his security at the Mundoloco El Chante club and showing him all the local party action around San Jose.

And of course when these well known underground bands play Costa Rica, usually at least one of the many Tico metal bands will open for them. The scene has been growing in leaps and bounds in Costa Rica, spurred on by the bigger local acts such as Corpse Garden and Sight Of Emptiness. The Ticos are much like the Chileans in that they support their scene. The Sight Of Emptiness facebook page has close to 17K likes, which is pretty phenomenal for a country of only four million people. They even have a politician (Minister of Culture Manuel Obregon) playing keyboards on their newest album, "Instincts."

Today on Metal Underground, we will look at three rising stars on the Costa Rican scene - a trio of bands garnering a following and playing the various clubs surrounding the capital city of San Jose. All three represent a different genre of metal, with some having entered the scene anywhere from the nineties to a far more recent time.

Catarsis Incarne

San Jose death metal quartet Catarsis Incarne formed when guitarist/vocalist Esteban Monestel and bandmate Ignacio 'Nash' Blanco disbanded the group Katharsys. Recruiting other scene members for this new project, their first album "Katharma" was finally cranked out on the indie label Plectro records in 2011. That release dealt with themes against the religion that the Hispanic conquerors brought with them. Two promo videos for the album tracks "Falsos Hijos del Sol" and "Yo Me Cree" were launched that year and the the following one.

Catarsis Incarne's second release, "Presbere," is due out on October 12th. The first single from it, "4 de Julio," has been streaming since the fitting date of July 4th. Check it out below. It is not a patriotic song, as the title may lead some to believe. The Ticos' independence day is on Sept. 15th. The name of the song ties in with the title of the album. Pablo Presbere was a national indigenous hero who led a rebellion against the Spaniard colonists down in the southern Talamanca region back in 1709 and was killed by them on July 4th.

Catarsis Incarne - "4 de Julio"

Catarsis Incarne - "Falsos Hijos del Sol"

Paganus Doctrina

This act could be classified as a veteran band, as these Heredia natives have been around since the nineties. This new version of Paganus Doctrina that you hear is the same trio of old schoolers that had the very raw and cult 1995 demo "Natural Inbio del Paganismo" to their credit. A year after that one, they had provided a 22-minute black metal dirge anthem to a split they issued with Pseudostrattified Epithelium before dissolving into anonymity for twelve years.

By 2008, Paganus Doctrina was back in contention with a three-way split with Necrolisis and Morbid Funeral. In 2012, the band finally issued its truly long awaited debut "Omnipotense Aeternae Diabolous" on the Austrian label Ashen productions. Far from the raw, underproduced output of their demos - this twelve song album is one to behold with its production and good songwriting. The members of this black metal triumvirate are active in the underground in many ways. They run Call To The Infernal Hordes fanzine and Occult records.

Paganus Doctrina - "Ocularis Apep Ad Vortex Veritas"

Paganus Doctrina - "Codice XI"


San Jose groove metallers Norko will celebrate a decade of existence next year, having gotten their start by playing a small gig in a city park kiosk up in the hills of Escazu. The next six years brought with it a lot of line-up changes for Norko, in which a second guitarist was added and the bassist and drummer jumped ship. By 2012, the band finally enteredthe studio to record its debut "Aire Toxico."

After playing at the Costa Rican Metal Fest 2 last year, Sight Of Emptiness bassist/guitarist Diego Paniagua entered the group. They are now producing a new video for the single "Suspendido" from the album. Central American music blog Craneo Metal has also confirmed that Norko will be one of the bands representing Costa Rica at the Bone Breaker 2014 festival series in Europe.

Norko - "Pueblo"

Norko - "Carnada y Anzuelo"

Costa Rica is a country that supports its own metal scene and has the ideal ambiance for music and concerts. Not just the Ticos love it, as is evidenced by all the international bands that make of point of booking a gig when they tour Central and South America. Join us again next week when we unearth another genre or scene here at Metal Underground.

sonictherapy's avatar

Vicky Willis has been a freelance journalist and former college radio disc jockey for almost twenty years. She has been contributing to Metalunderground.com since 2010.

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