Armageddon...The Apocolypse,... The Rapture, call it what you want, is predicted to be just around the corner for us as a race of people, it's sad but we only have ourselves to blame. Of course musicians being musicians such a global catastrophe cannot not be allowed to pass without someone writing a song about it or basing an album around the concept of a world coming to terms with its own demise. Puerto Rico's Iglesia Atomica, Agustín “Chito” Criollo (bass/keyboards); Martín Latimer (guitars) and Herb Pérez (drums/percussion), are the latest band to throw their hats into the Armageddon ring however their approach, on their latest album "La Guerra del Fin del Mundo", is not one of chronicling the planet's final days but more a plea for those that may survive such an apocalyptical event to learn from the mistakes of the past and forget about the new gods we worshiped at the altars of technology, greed and war and instead look to the old gods to rediscover our connection with nature and the planet lying beneath our feet. The fact that Iglesia Atomica attempt to convey this message via the medium of instrumental music does make things a little more difficult but thankfully each songs part in the whole is explained on the albums sleeve notes (or for digital buyers can be found on the bands Bandcamp page).
" starts the ball rolling, a song portraying man's obsession with technology and the effects that this obsession has had on the natural resources we as a people rely on to survive. The song starts with the sound of birds singing and water running beneath the sound ringing guitar arpeggios, the occasional shaking of a prayer stick and shamanic chanting evoking images of fertility rites and harvest rituals. Slowly the gently plucked arpeggios fade away and make way for a more swirling guitar dynamic pushed by deep booming liquid bass and superbly executed drumming that is cleverly played both on and just behind the beat. The song gradually grows in intensity with Criollo
laying down some absolutely wicked grooviness for Latimer
to decorate with his lead work, the guitarist ripping one scorching and emotive solo after another from his finger worn fretboard, together the band flying so high that at times they are in danger of burning up. At around the songs halfway mark the band begin to cool things down a little and with the arrival of an absolutely delicious bass solo from Criollo
the band drop into a hazy lysergic groove that also sees Criollo's
keyboards taking some of the weight off of Latimer's
shoulders, and Perez
shifting his drumming attack from feral and tribalistic to a mixture of jazzy, complex and intricate. As the song nears its conclusion the need to fly takes over the band again and they once again take off on another guitar screaming foray into the stratosphere before finally finishing on a Floyd
ian flavoured psychedelic fade out.
"Atomo Verde No.5" is up next, its theme of greed, excess and neglect is perfectly portrayed by a series of fiercely addictive guitar motifs, chopped out funky chord progressions, swirling keyboard textures and some truly outstanding drum work.
"La Guerra del Fin del Mundo
", follows and deals with the existence of old gods and the preparations for a battle they wished they didn't have to fight but can't avoid. It is a song that mixes the less aggressive and more lysergic aspects of Iglesia Atomica's
sound with touches of fusion-like jazz funkiness (is that Criollo
slapping his bass that we are hearing?) and spacey ambience, the band even going as far as to throw in a little Appalachian
bluegrass for good measure.
"Un Dios Enemigo" reflects, musically, the war of the old gods against the new gods with crunching metallic guitar riffs and thundering rhythms played with relentless intensity against a backdrop of sampled voices shouting, screaming in anguish, anger, fear and fury. Suddenly a lull, marked by a lilting hazy psychedelic section, appears both in the battle and the music portraying that battle and allows the sound of nature to filter through all the devastation and destruction that has been wrought only to be suddenly drowned out as the war machine restarts its engines.
" brings the story to not so much a conclusion but to a choice, do we the survivors of the war follow the model that brought us to this point in our existence and thus start the whole vicious cycle all over again or do we follow the model that our earliest ancestors followed and learn to accept nature as our one true god and be thankful for all the gifts she has to offer us. Iglesia Atomica
reflect this dichotomy with a song that begins restrained and low key then slowly climbs to a crescendo, Latimer's
guitar soaring over a back drop of evocative and sensuous Floydian
- like grooves expertly delivered by Criollo
, the song bringing this story/album not so much to an end but more to the close of a chapter in an ongoing saga.
Not really a tale of condemnation and not exactly a tale of destruction or retribution "La Guerra del Fin del Mundo" is more a tale of hope, hope that the next generation will grasp the nettle and force a change, hope that we can find a more organic, natural way to live and hope that we will always have hope.
© 2020 Frazer Jones