Chicago’s La Armada, originally formed in the Dominican Republic, has been grinding for years and creating visceral political music. Their work is a straight up middle finger to oppression and all forms of injustice. Their latest record, Anti-Colonial Vol. 1— out this week on Creep—is a call to justice that everyone needs to hear. Along with La Armada's storytelling, the band offers a solid variety of technicality across their music. When combined, both these qualities come together and make engaging political art.
With themes touching upon racism, police brutality, and corrupt politicians, La Armada immediately kicks things off with a bang. After a brief introduction, “Unquenchable” opens on a sporadic guitar and drum rhythm. The vocals shout over the instrumentation with additional guitar work shredding into the mix. The lyrics shout, “Prisons get filled with innocent lives / South of the border/ they’re building a wall / For-profit,” adding to the political charge.
The lyrics exude evocatively, and at times, heartbreaking imagery. "The Auction" is actually based on a poem about selling slaves, and mothers having to watch their children being taken away. The track comes crashing in with a drumming beatdown. Vocals shout over a tumultuous bass rhythm. There's a relentless hardcore pattern that eventually gives way to a shot of thrash fury, via an ascending guitar tempo.
Later on in the album, “Fire” shoots off a high-tempo drum beat, the guitar releasing a bright twang alongside the pummeling instrumentation. Moving to a hardcore rhythm, the song continues to produce a whip-lashing rhythm. The lyrics state, “[…] Fascist state on the brink of / Complete destruction / We will react against / We will!"
Throughout the album, each song contains a passionate anger, the instrumentation thrashing towards mayhem. Alberto Marte (bass) and Luis Martinez (drums) lay down the low-end that leads the band. Jonathan Salazar and Paul Rivera (guitars) introduce various shifts in pitch and constantly play different tempos. Javier Fernandez (vocals) adds an extra touch of brutality, weaving in his native language into his vocal presentation. It’s certainly a unique element to the music, building upon to the work’s poetic power.
Compared to other tracks, the band scales back on the speed in “Homan Square." This allows for moments where the rhythm will intensify and stand out, making for a bombastic blend of instrumentation. “The Balance Of Terror” wraps things up on a savage blend of melody and rhythm. The progression packs thumping bass, crashing drums, and catchy guitar tones that make for a satisfying conclusion to the record.
Anti-Colonial Vol. 1’s is an album that will have you ready to fight against all the injustice in the world. Each song shares a tale that will open people's eyes to pain and suffering around the world (or within their own home). In the spirit of political music, La Armada has crafted a special collection of moving songs, while also making sure the music sounds damn awesome. This is crossover that has a lot more to offer, always tossing in something unexpected with each track. Anti-Colonial Vol. 1 is the sort of music that embodies the hardcore/punk and thrash mentality.