I could open this review by writing something trite like, “When it’s done well, whether listeners comprehend the language that a song was written in or not is irrelevant; its meaning will come through in the passion with which it was performed.” But that would probably make some readers scoff. It should – such statements are often heavy-handed and surprisingly artless – but the truth is that something does indeed translate when one listens to and is captivated by music that was written in a language with which a listener is unfamiliar; it can be incredibly affecting. One listen to the La Llama Que Nunca Se Apaga EP by Yesterday’s Heroes proves that point. The four songs on this Colombian quartet’s new release are incredibly powerful, and I say that while also admitting that my knowledge of Spanish is elementary at best.
A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the La Llama Que Nunca Se Apaga 7” EP by Yesterday’s Heroes.
Regardless of their ability to understand the finer linguistic points, La Llama Que Nunca Se Apaga‘s opening title track will still hit listeners like a dead-blow hammer to the chest. There, guitarist Camilo, bassist Beta and drummer Cruz converge and blast listeners like Colombia’s answer to NOFX – the drums hit as hard as Smelly and the guitars are so tight they’re almost vacuum-sealed; combined, they simultaneously batter and dazzle listeners. That instrumental beginning alone should be enough to get hearts beating a little harder, but the real fist-pumping will begin when listeners hear singer Diego crash into the mix and proceed to spit acid in every corner of the song. Sounding as though he’s been downing bottles of Aguardiente Antioqueno and at least four CAO Colombia Vallenatos a day since puberty, Diego and his vocal manner instantly cut an imposing image. Not one lyrical stanza in this performance fails to sound like a vitriolic indictment – regardless of whether or not listeners can comprehend what he’s saying.
After the first two-minute tirade closes, Yesterday’s Heroes masterfully keep the EP’s energy up and run just a little longer (read: a bit closer in style to Rise Against) for “Donde Estan?” (“Where Are They?” in English). This time, while the vocal is in no way more tuneful, Yesterday’s Heroes mimic a sound much closer to melodic hardcore and really give listeners a better idea of what they’re capable of. Rather than just belting full-tilt as they did through the duration of “La Llama Que Nunca Se Apaga,” the band inserts a few more dynamic shifts into “Donde Estan?” which immediately makes for a more even and satisfying experience. Here, Camilo proves that he’s capable of building a vibe instead of just melting listeners’ faces as a palm-muted bridge plays intensely and Diego happily rattles cages. When the song snaps to a close, it does so with such force that listeners won’t be able to stop themselves from flinching when they hear it – it’s such a fantastic experience.
After the A-side has run its course and listeners have hurriedly flipped to the B-, side the energy endures as Yesterday’s Heroes continue in a pattern which is more melodic hardcore than Oi through “Mi Tierra” (“My Land”), which actually trumps the quality of “La Llama Que Nunca Se Apaga.” Here, the guitars cuts deep and clean as Camilo sticks to an “all-power-chords-all-the-time form strapped to a breakneck pace, to which the rhythm section ably paces. That’s cool on its own, but the really attention-grabbing aspect of “Mi Terra” is Diego’s vocal performance; the singer manages to present a less guttural vocal tone without losing any power or potency whatsoever. The difference is shocking and really presents a host of possibilities that the A-side of this EP didn’t; in “Mi Terra,” Yesterday’s Heroes prove they’re capable of more than just making ears bleed.
The band continues the innovative trend by including some flamenco-sounding guitar in the intro for “A Mis Enemigos” (“To My Enemies”) which contrasts a very even-tempered vocal performance of fairly ominous subject matter (the first verse goes, “We were given up for dead / They feasted without knowing / We are waiting / The time to go / To My Enemies,” roughly translated) before once again blowing the whole song up with concussive drums and live-wire guitars and melting down the final moments of the EP’s running. It’s unbelievable; the band sort of got the sides backwards for a conventional vinyl release, but La Llama Que Nunca Se Apaga still plays well because the best fireworks come last.
All of that said, and the La Llama Que Nunca Se Apaga EP sounds pretty awesome right? It is – so it would be wise if readers got busy and tracked a copy down for themselves. The current pressing of La Llama Que Nunca Se Apaga is a limited-edition of just 240 copies so timing is of the essence. After they’re gone, those who miss out will have to wait for the band’s next release to catch up with the band – but those who do get copies will definitely be sold on the prospect of looking for the next one when it comes too.
The La Llama Que Nunca Se Apaga 7” EP is out now. Buy it here, directly from Streetrock Records. www.streetrockrecords.net/cube/ordering-and-shipping-info.html