Papangu
Holoceno


4.5
superb

Review

by WattPheasant USER (51 Reviews)
July 13th, 2021 | 74 replies


Release Date: 06/25/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An incredibly musically ambitious album that is executed as well as it is envisioned. 7 years in the making, Holoceno combines progressive sludge metal with elements of avant garde and zeuhl.

Imagine that every album that has ever been made was to be represented by various pebbles. This would make the world of music a seemingly endless dune of rocky, sandy clutter. When one decides to shovel deep into the figurative sediment of any genre they love, they will soon come to the grim realization that the majority of albums out there rarely ever reach the light of day; buried by time and competition. They will make small contributions to an established scene, and are added to the layered sediment that makes up this vast ocean of music. It comes down to how often these bands are dug up and listened to that makes them stay afloat. This is why I do what I do. My goal is to dig deep into this ground of music to uncover the lost gems that have been buried under the thick clutter of music. Additionally, to help fresh gems stay buoyant while they have that shot at getting the recognition they deserve before time passes them by.

And speaking of fresh gems, we have this album. Holoceno is a debut album that has had seven years in the making, and unlike Fear Inoculum, the amount of time that has been spent perfecting this album did not result in a bloated product by any means. To cut to the chase, Holoceno essentially checks most of the boxes of what I am looking for in a new progressive metal album. It is impressively innovative and has stepped in grounds no other band has done successfully before. It contains incredibly creative songwriting, jaw-dropping instrumental solos, and technical musicianship. Its riffs are both effective and aplenty. The rhythm section in this album is almost unmatched by most other bands in general. It is mixed and produced appropriately. And the subject matter attempts to shed light on issues that are of greater importance than any one of us.

What I can tell about the concept of the album is that it is an occult story of a bandit who sees a vision of his inevitable demise which caused a domino effect that will lead to the upcoming destruction of the entire planet via ecological collapse. He then tries to make a devilish pact with a mysteriously powerful figure to change the course of fate. The story feels very "Pandora's Box" themed, and is also where we get this absolutely amazing, ugly, yet beautiful album artwork.

As the band has stated, their album is inspired by Brazilian modernist literature, as well as "ecological eschatology", meaning that the ultimate theological fate of humankind lies on us destroying the world's ecosystem through centuries of industrialized abuse to the plants, animals, and other life forms of the Earth, which will result in our end as well. The combined forces of mass negligence and greed of the rich and powerful will lead us to destroy our home, which will hinder our chances of survival in the unforgiving cosmos. It seems like the progressive metal albums that have been coming out of Brazil have been especially politically motivated as they are at the epicenter of the Holocene Extinction through the Bolsonaro administration and in burning the Amazon rain forest. This gives the album great historical significance as a piece of art.

If one were to try and categorize this album into genres, I think they would find influences in the following in order: sludge metal, progressive metal, zeuhl, avant garde, and progressive rock. Before doing research for this band, I had been fairly familiar with most of these genres except for zeuhl. This is where I had begun a small detour into the zeuhl essentials so that I could figure out what this sound was that I was hearing in Holoceno that I could not yet distinguish. The band mentioned that Magma was a significant influence on their sound. The super jazzy and grandiose rhythms from zeuhl really show in a big way on Holoceno, which makes it a strange first couple listens for those who are not familiar with the genre. Other influences the band had mentioned were King Crimson and Mastodon, which make sense. The overall sound of the album is very dark, angry, and at times, mournful. And what better way to portray sad and angry music than with that thick, fuzzy, sludgy overtone. The kind of riffs you get on this album are often similar to what you might find from a Bizzaro World of Mastodon's Remission. Additionally, the King Crimson influence shows in their proggy, staccato rhythm sections.

The only other two albums out there that I could find (and I looked fairly thoroughly) that combine sludge, avant garde, and zeuhl are Great Sage, Equal of Heaven by Guapo, and Volume Obliteration Transcendence by Yeti; both were released over 15 years ago. This confluence of genres is something that is incredibly difficult to pull off, and from listening to the two albums back to back it is evident that neither of them did it even close to as successfully as Holoceno. This is partly because Holoceno is produced exceptionally well compared to the other two, but I think it is more because Papangu wrote their songs around more progressive metal focused values where the others did not. What I mean by this is that the songs are built on very strong, odd time-signature riffs, where the compositions build to their climaxes with guitar, synth, or saxophone solos. The other albums focused more on building dissonant atmospheres and more noise-rock guitar chords, not a lot of riffs. By combining the previously mentioned genres with progressive metal, Holoceno becomes the first of its kind.

I'd also like to mention the high level of musicianship that this album presents. The main members of Papangu are well-practiced, and every performance in this album is stellar. The guest musicians on this album also do an incredible job. Uaná Barreto plays the synth solos on "Bacia das Almas" and "Água Branca", and Luis Souto Major plays the dark synth on "Holoceno" for atmosphere. The last two tracks have amazing saxophone performances by Benjamin Mekki Widerøe, from the jazz fusion prog band Seven Impale. However, if any musician takes the cake on Holoceno it would have to be Torstein Lofthus the main drummer of Shining - Blackjazz. He simply plays on another level which is something you need to hear to believe.

So far this is the most innovative album I've reviewed. And it feels good to say that it is executed just as well as its vision intended it to be. This is not just an ordinary piece of music that gets released and is forgotten, it genuinely feels like a historical piece of art. Both for breaking new ground in the music world and for its political undertones regarding our fate as a species. Holoceno is fit for fans of progressive sludge, or anybody that likes prog metal that strays on the darker, grittier side of things. For fans of avant garde metal, this is an essential underground album, and for fans of zeuhl/metal fusions it almost does not get better than this. Show Papangu some love!



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user ratings (85)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
BitterJalapenoJr
July 13th 2021


50 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review. I listened to this twice today. Certainly a lot to digest. Fascinating stuff!

Digging: Suppression - The Sorrow Of Soul Through Flesh

parksungjoon
July 14th 2021


42774 Comments


Cool review dude will have to check at some point pos'd

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2021


17107 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I like this review. Gonna add this album to my playlists and see if it comes around any time soon. That artwork is pretty swell - it looks familiar, but I can't put my finger on where I've seen something similar.

Evok
Contributing Reviewer
July 15th 2021


8884 Comments


Well I'll be damned. Gotta hear this one now.

@Nocte, at first glance it reminded me of Abyssal's A Beacon in the Husk

Digging: Ike Quebec - Easy Living

Sowing
Moderator
July 15th 2021


40922 Comments


This really is an excellent review. Your analogies in the first paragraph are spot-on. Keep up the great writing.

Digging: Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

necropig
July 16th 2021


6500 Comments


funky

Digging: Wallfahrer - Den Menschen So Fern

bloc
July 16th 2021


68457 Comments


Not too familiar/into that avant-garde metal shit, but this was somewhat enjoyable

edit: holy fuck Sowing cut off the Season nice

Digging: Ibibio Sound Machine - Electricity

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2021


2000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, pos. Just checked this today and it's fucking wild. "Torstein Lofthus the main drummer of Shining - Blackjazz" aaahhh, this makes sense, I was thinking the kid was wild. Interesting that those synth solos are features too, they go off.

DDDeftoneDDD
July 29th 2021


20128 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hell yess! TKS for the rec Mr. Milo.

Digging: Gospel - The Loser

DDDeftoneDDD
July 29th 2021


20128 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

ooooh they got a Toby Diver remix, kay

Demon of the Fall
July 29th 2021


24590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review, pos.



Stellar artwork + experimental sludge combo has me very intrigued. I like the concept as well. Will endeavour to check this at some point.

Digging: Gospel - The Loser

DDDeftoneDDD
July 29th 2021


20128 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

OK, this was too damn awesome. Review is really cool (with the obvious exception being the FI reference XD).



"I think they would find influences in the following in order: sludge metal, progressive metal, zeuhl, avant garde, and progressive rock."

Definitely this, but I would like to open the debate to something that I found reminiscent in their DNA that is the vibe from Tropicalia movement (take the example of the melodic vocals on São Francisco's refrain). Sure, they're from Brasil, so I may be biased, but also maybe they don't feel the need to call it out on their bandcamp, since its the embryonic phase of Brazilian progrock, by merging their genres (Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Os Mutantes etc)

tectactoe
July 30th 2021


5550 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. Nice album, too. Reminiscent of a less monolithic version of Neptunian Maximalism’s EONS. (The avant- and brutal-prog parts, not the drone stuff.)

Digging: Coconuts - 2

Demon of the Fall
July 30th 2021


24590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don’t really know what I just heard yet I like it. Cool.



The existence of this Zeuhl prog thing was news to me, had to look it up when I saw it mentioned - literally a complete pleb in that regard. Interesting mix of styles here. I like how full it sounds, the jazz-like segments are badass. It’s pretty relentless yet it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I can here the sludge influences yet it sounds totally different from what you’d expect from that style. Good stuff indeed.

DDDeftoneDDD
August 2nd 2021


20128 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"I can hear the sludge influences yet it sounds totally different from what you’d expect from that style"

totally agree!



regarding the Zeuhl prog thing, I had to look it up as well...generally, regarding Magma's sound I used to call it kraut rock, maybe wrongly tho lol since I guess Kraut is more of a German thing than French.

Demon of the Fall
August 6th 2021


24590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Guess I should check out Magma.

DDDeftoneDDD
August 6th 2021


20128 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

only checked Kobaia and Mekanïk Destruktiw Kommandoh but I should get on them hard as well

Inoculaeted
August 12th 2021


979 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I want every comment from this album to appear on my discussions tab. THIS. FUCKING. RULES.

monocaust
August 13th 2021


25 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

first and last track are so fucking good

DDDeftoneDDD
August 17th 2021


20128 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

oh damn. Cool this entered on BNM section.



and yap, track Holoceno is The shit!



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