Calyx – Vientos arcaicos (2019)

Guest article by Belisario

Now that the end of 2019 is over, with its list-saturated madness, it is a good moment to look backwards in search for the decent albums we may have overlooked during the year. That might be the case of the debut album by a discrete Spanish band under the name of Calyx. Released in the month of May, it was published by no less than Iron Bonehead Productions, a well-known middle-sized label which is lately supporting smaller and lesser known bands, a move certainly worth praising.

Hailing from the city of Zaragoza, this young band has been active for the last six years, releasing a total of three demos before addressing the longer format, a strategy that tends to be increasingly scarce in the digital era, and naturally redounds to solid compositions and a confident performance. Vientos arcaicos is certainly not an earthquake that could shake the foundations of extreme metal as we know them, instead it is a genuine and clear expression of a band’s vision skillfully transformed into music.

The album’s formula is mainly rooted in a basic yet robust variety of black metal, which leaves enough space to assimilate other influences and develop each individual song. Many of the tracks sound like something that could be defined as black/thrash, although under the surface there is a restless crust punk element breathing at all times, bringing in dynamism without excessive simplification. Each song tends to articulate around strong riffs that follow one another, changing the course in a vigorous manner and using mood changes and even rhythm variations to revitalize the action and push it forwards.

As a general rule, each riff is repeated several times in a somewhat rigid way, yet the effect is always powerful. In the best songs, there is a recurrence of the initial motif upon reaching the end, played in a very similar form but not exactly the same, which provides a logical and coherent conclusion as well as an undeniable sense of completeness. This happens specially in the first half of the album, since the four final tracks, excepting maybe the last, are rather inferior, in spite of which the balance remains positive.

The band manages to compensate their manifestly humble technical skills through structural and organizational solutions which, despite being simple, are nonetheless quite effective, such as complementary derivations of a single riff or accentuated variations in rhythm. We find one single solo in the whole record, which is by no means spectacular, but this lack of adornments is compensated by the ability showcased by the band in crafting riffs that are simple but extremely powerful, captivating from the first listen.

Some songs are permeated by other recognizable subgenres, such as speed metal on “Asedio infernal”, but the band knows how to assimilate those influences in order to expand their scope of action without aping any specific reference. In general terms, we find a clear unity of style in spite of the diversity of structures and rhythms presented, and this is perhaps the biggest appeal this album has to offer and also its most laudable feature. All of the aforementioned reveals that this material was probably cultivated with patience and great care before the recording sessions, hence the positive result.

Along with the stylistic references mentioned above, the entire album is pervaded by medieval echoes, not only on the acoustic intervals that can be heard in the introduction, the conclusion and a couple of interludes, but also in the suggestive and catchy melodies played by the electric guitars. These recurrent elements relate to the topic dealt with, namely old tales and legends, recreating through sound what is also expressed in the lyrics. These are not only written in proper Spanish, they’re also quite suitable and evocative, despite the slight abuse of syntax inversions and the omission of articles for the sake of concision.

The care taken to write good texts as well as the use of the band’s native tongue instead of a standardized and hollow simple English are welcome features, although the music itself mirrors the magical, dark and ancient world which fascinates these young musicians. Said universe is also vividly portrayed in the album cover, which looks like an illustration from the “Leyendas” (“Legends”) by Spanish Romantic writer Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, clearly a strong inspiration for the lyrics, together with low-budget fantastic horror movies from the seventies, many of which were filmed in Spain.

As said in the beginning, Vientos arcaicos does not offer anything really new, nor any original reinterpretation of an established genre, but what it does offer is a quite personal and accomplished recombination of old influences and styles which gain a new dimension and therefore breathe with new life, something that is far from negligible.

Calyx is a newcomer with clear ideas that resolved to go beyond standard black/thrash, a usually powerful but also flat and simple mixture. It succeeds in its endeavor through its amalgam of metallic styles and punk energy, cohesive enough but also sufficiently diverse as to become permeated by its sources of inspiration and display a stunning variety of forms. The result is a straightforward but also authentic and evocative record, surpassing by far the usual generic and conventional product. It will please those who value the correspondence between vision and realization above merely technical considerations.

Originally published in Spanish at El Negro Metal:

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23 thoughts on “Calyx – Vientos arcaicos (2019)”

  1. kool AIDS says:

    did they make their logo look like “C U N T” on purpose?!

    anyway it’s an alright record because it has real riffs and leans on them pretty exclusively. it has a laid back vibe though. fine for a d&d sesh but hardly dripping with paralyzing anticosmic grimness.

    1. Belisario says:

      >> did they make their logo look like “C U N T” on purpose?!

      That’s part of the underlying punk spirit, I guess.

    2. C O C K says:

      good background music for porn

      1. kool AIDS says:

        what? maybe if you’re an edgy camgirl or some satanist twink. porn is for fags anyway. though I’d rather listen to those italian composers’ ’70s porno soundtracks than any modern/throwback black metal.

        1. what is joek says:

          as in it’s not very interesting on its own. most porn music sucks too.

          1. kool AIDS says:

            yeah most everything sucks, so what. but music that’s intended for use as background at least has an excuse for not being interesting enough on it’s own. black metal only suitable for ouija sessions with your fat girlfriends is particularly egregious. calyx gets a pass for having cool riffs but that’s partially due to the low standards to which black metal is held. like um sweeties write some fuckin riffs y’all.

            1. Gen XYZ says:

              I’ll write some fruity tremolo riffs only after you give me all your cummies, daddy.

              1. kool AIDS says:

                you couldn’t handle all my cummies young one

                1. Gen XYZ says:

                  OK boomer!

      2. Gen XYZ says:

        For porn you should perhaps inquire yourself with THAT other site.

        1. NWN War Metal Tranny Rapist says:

          Rape the shemales! Sodomize the transsexual ass! Through rape storms force we dominate the ladyboys! No tranny shall be spared.

          1. Gen XYZ says:

            You couldn’t even gape me as much as an extra large Bad Dragon™ Dildo without staining your Fallen Angel of Doom hoodie, deary.

            1. the hard try says:

              yes yes try

              1. Gen XYZ says:

                There is no “try” in my encyclopedia.

  2. Sperg Lusting After Golden Years says:

    Making demos is pointless. 1) you no longer need them to get signed to a label who will invest money into you so that you can make an album, have it marketed, pressed. Social Media, self funding in most cases.
    2) iron bonehead is not going to listen to your demo and tell you that you’re not good enough, 3) can quietly refine ones craft at home using modern recording and computers.

    1. kool AIDS says:

      everyone put out demos in the >golden years.

      social media is for fags and retards.

      self funding a recording that sounds as good as a pro studio recording is about 10x what it would cost to just rent a studio. you can self fund a demo though…

      your comment is dumb.

    2. Making a demo forces bands to clarify their thoughts. Highly advised.

      1. idiot says:

        See item 2. Absence of label/distribution negative feedback means you’ll get it from listeners eg sales. May as well put an album out and gauge the response. Unless time or money was some obstacle there’s no rational reason not too.

  3. Frozenlake says:

    Yes, I’m afraid you guys overlooked quite a lot of decent albums during the year. Nick’s list was a disappointment, apart from Trench Warfare and Polemicist. Mefitis sounds like it was designed by a group of University Professors. It perfectly encapsulates a certain set of tropes… and sucks the very life of it in the process. Embalmed death metal. Yawn.
    When will you ever talk about something a little more lively, urgent, vital? This all feels so contrived.
    Check out Fawn Limbs – Harm Remissions, and get your metal juices pumping.
    Cheers.

    1. Creed Braddock says:

      Jesus Christ. Fawn Limbs is just Car Bomb plus Dillinger Escape Plan. Do you really think that will be appreciated here?

    2. therapeofpunkswhocum says:

      Ha, clever. Fawn Limbs play Myspace grind.

    3. bloodypulp says:

      yes im afraid this sucks

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