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Last Year, I challenged myself to round up one month's worth of bands from outside Western Europe and English-speaking countries. Doing this just once a year isn't enough. Metal originated in English-speaking countries, and is often performed in English by people who only speak it as a second language, usually by people of purely European descent. Europe and America remain the genre's largest markets. But focusing on those markets and traditions ignores a bounty of great bands from the rest of the world.

In this series we will celebrate those bands. This is metal without borders.

In the first installment, Chile. The South American country has an active black and death metal scene with growing international recognition and, to be sure, there's some of that here. However, after following up on a band we covered last year, I fell into Bandcamp rabbit hole leading to several great thrash groups. The best are below.

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Fellow IO staffer Greg Majewski covered Santiago’s Mortal Whisper in one of the very first Bandcamp Vaults posts. At that time the band only had a rehearsal demo to their name, but those two rough cuts sparkled at times as brightly Rough Cutt. Their debut self-titled EP still has some wrinkles to iron out - José Tapia has a great voice but has trouble staying on the beat. What works, though, really works. In a world where Metallica don’t even play the bridge in “Battery” anymore, Mortal Whisper write great bridges with complex and interweaving guitar and bass.

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Under an immaculate line-drawn ink cover and after an appropriately ominous intro lurks the blackest thrash of this roundup. Invisible Force play only at high speed with heavy distortion, and wouldn’t look out of place on Hells Headbangers’ roster of bands. Sometimes the band resorts to whammy dive bombs to remind the listener that yes, there’s solid Slayer-worship underpinning the churning chaos. At their best, they remind me of Goatwhore, though without that band’s penchant for tee-shirt worthy lyrics.

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The space left in the wake of Vektor’s implosion is not entirely vacant. Talagante’s Ripper likewise play a mix of technical death metal and thrash with a deep space aesthetic. The Paolo Girardi album cover to Experiment of Existence suggests another extraordinarily murky group, but Ripper keep their instruments fairly well-differentiated, all the better to make room for the bass work of Pablo Cortés. Cortés shreds all over every part of the record, and while guitarists Daniel Poblete and Patricio “Venus Torment” Spalinger peacock respectable chops on the record as well but seriously, listen to the bass solo that makes up the entirety of “Chromatic Fantasy” and try to keep a straight face.

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Santiago’s Dangerous tagged their album Metal Heritage on bandcamp with only one other band: Exodus. I can see why. These no-nonsense pit-starting songs never overstay their welcome, and focus more on the double time skank nuts-and-bolts of the genre than proper song structure. These guitarists, though, display more virtuosic flair than Gary Holt tends to. Even outside of dedicated solo sections, Dangerous employ twin harmonies and flurries of neoclassical hammer-and-pulls.

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The lone black metal release in this roundup, Inalienable Catharsis by Temucuo's Praecognitvm came out in August, but is being picked up for a cassette release by Iron Bonehead. Normally that label selects more adventurous fare than this, but as far as atmospheric black metal goes, Praecognitum aren't half bad. their propensity to switch from an otherwise happy sounding chord into dissonance does well for them in songs like "Forest of Shattered Souls".

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And finally something really nasty. Infamovs play death metal at the most formless and chasmic side of that genre’s spectrum. The leads pierce in the way old school bands do, but the riffs bubble, ebb and flow like they only can in a post-Portal world, even if Under the Seals of Death has a lot more form to it than Portal. Though it’s a world away from the reverent thrash that Dangerous play, they both run into the similar issue not sounding distinctly Chilean, or at least of-themselves. In the case of Infamovs, that seems to be part of the point. Unmoored from reality, maybe even unhinged, they don’t just slot in well with the stew of modern death metal, they melt into it.

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