10 March 2022

8 Kalacas Fronteras Review

8 Kalacas – Fronteras

When I first read of this band two things stood out.
Those two things were the Mexican influence on their sound and their title of the godfathers of skacore.
Now if I think of a Mexican rock/metal/punk band my mind drifts immediately to the genre blending melting pot of sonic theatrics from Molotov. Skacore on the other band brings me very much back to Britain and the fantastic antics of Capdown.
Two bands that I wouldn’t normally put together. Which upon reflection was me being rather short sighted, as both bands, much like 8 Kalacas mix punk, rock, metal, ska and more into their sound.
And all 3 of them sound like they are having the times of their lives whilst making it.
All 3 also sound like they will be ridiculous fun live.
And all 3 are tinged with elements of social commentary, even if that commentary is wrapped up behind dub, two tone or mariachi sounds.
But, enough comparisons to amazing band’s, can 8 Kalacas stand on their own two, or more accurately, fourteen feet?
Yes, oh yes they can.
This is an album that smashes as much as it funks. Usually at the same time. It’s quite an achievement to evoke the idea of actual slam dancing!
The songs are held together brilliantly by each part being given enough room to shine.
It’s entirely feasible that having riffs this big and drums this heavy could easily overpower and render the trumpet and trombone pointless. Quite the opposite is achieved as timing is everything, and everything gets its time to shine, Mutate is a perfect example of a song where huge riff threatens to crush you just for the brass melody to lift you back up and get you jumping around again. It’s a neat trick and one the band use sparingly.
The band also jump from neck snapping grooves into two tone skanking guitars in ways that I’m pretty sure should be illegal.
R2rito and Esquizofrenia being two sterling examples of this approach. R2rito has a little more 90s Snapcase to the guitars in the second half as they layer the vocals over some wonderfully simple breakdown riffs.
Their willingness to just riff it up stamps it’s feet later in the album as Garras attempts to blast your brains out of your head with some earth shaking guitars.
Going back to R2rito again, there’s bits of near blast beat drums over some beefy hardcore riffs before they drop into that skank again, I mean who the hell does that?
Thankfully someone thought it would be a good idea, as it works fantastically.
Then as if throwing 3 or 4 different paces into their songs isn’t enough, they lift off the pedal for a few as Luna, Gato and Labios Negros ease away from the massive riffs and let the sway and swagger of the mariachi elements take the lead, the songs are still swift, but no where near as hectic as what has come before them, the vocals are more restrained and melodic, and the brass players take the lead with the main hooks for the songs.
It further cements the idea that styles and genres seem to mean nothing to this band as they move through the sonic landscape taking bits and pieces as they please, it raises a smile of excitement as you don’t know what they are going to throw at you next, always keeping the listener guessing.
The description of skacore feels very accurate, but at the same time also sells them a little short as the mariachi elements add more than just the touch of ska to the hardcore and punk sounds running through the music. They much like Molotov that I mentioned right at the beginning, seem to be of the thinking of there’s so many genres, but we don’t have anywhere near enough time to fit them all in, so touch on as many as they can, and it doesn’t feel contrived or forced, it just works, it really shouldn’t do, but it does.
Utterly and completely amazing record.
Turn on the stereo, press play, smile like an idiot, repeat.
Your summer soundtrack has arrived early in time for Easter.

8 Kalacas (spoken Ocho Kalacas) release Fronteras on March 25th via Atomic Fire Records.
Check out the singles via the videos below