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Experimental/Post Metal • Brazil

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Papangu biography
"Four-piece band from João Pessoa, Brazil. Formed in 2012 as a stoner rock trio, PAPANGU quickly moved into sludge metal and prog rock territory after the inclusion of a second guitarist/vocalist. Influenced by the modernist literature of Northeastern Brazil-a hardy, arid region historically plagued by inequality and violence-, the band exclusively writes music in their native Portuguese, and aims to reclaim the space for progressive and ambitious Brazilian rock left empty after the Tropicália movement (and later, pop rock and axé-influenced music) toned down experimentalism in Brazilian music." - Marco Mayer

PAPANGU released their first album "Holoceno" in 2021 consisting of material written between 2019-2021 with their core lineup consisting of Marco MAYER (bass, vocals, guitars, keyboards), Hector RUSLAN (guitar, vocals), Rai ACCIOLY (guitar, vocals) and Nichollas JAQUES (background vocals) along with several special guests. This is a concept album whose main character is a bandit from Brazil's backlands who starts a chain reaction that could set of an environmental disaster unless he can find a way to stop it.

PAPANGU blends aspects of sludge metal and zeuhl mixed with prog, stoner rock, post rock and Brazilian traditions. Listeners will find similarites to certain artists such as LE GRAND SBAM, KOLLAPSE, JORDSJO, CORIMA, Laurent THIBAULT, Chistian VANDER and MAGMA.

-----Thanks to The Neck Romancer for providing information-----

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PAPANGU discography

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4.41 | 29 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Holoceno by PAPANGU album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.41 | 29 ratings

Papangu Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

5 stars Zeuhl and metal are two genres which I've long felt would make fantastic bedfellows, but almost every instance of an attempted fusion I've found has been lackluster. Magma's ?lag Tanz EP bills itself as jazz-metal, and that's not too far off the mark; and the bands ni and PoiL frequently have moments where these two styles merge. Most other attempts at blending zeuhl and metal have come off as muddled, meandering morasses of aimless dissonance and irregular drumming.

Brazil's Papangu, though, might be the best-realized example of zeuhl metal I've run across to date. Holoceno, their debut album, has been seven years in the making, and it tells the story of an environmental apocalypse--something Brazilians would understandably have on their minds.

The album opens with the instrumental "Ave-Bala". This song's opening riff is equal parts Blood Mountain and Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh, with the percussion of Larks' Tongues in Aspic. It's a sludgy, foreboding, and furious introductory track.

"Agua Branca" bursts open with a throbbing, fuzzy, bass-heavy sound, which is balanced against more delicate moments of post-rock-inspired guitar lines. Crashing cymbals of an unusual sonic quality add to the oversaturated sound, and a haunting synthesizer adds a spooky twist in the song's closing moments.

"São Francisco" incorporates rhythms of Papangu's native Northeastern Brazil under death metal-inspired guitars. Rhythms and riffs become more complex, overlapping and interweaving with one another. Passages of this song mix a martial drumbeat with frenetic, twisting guitar lines to achieve a near-hypnotic effect.

The opening notes of "Bacia das Almas" immediately convey urgency. The watery guitar effects add an element of artsy post-punk character, and that's only enhanced by the relatively pared-back instrumentation. Plonking cowbell complements this track's incessant drive. Out of nowhere, a glimmering, cybertronic synthesizer solo emerges before the song's final verse. The drumming on this album--provided by Torstein Lofthus of Shining and Elephant9--is nothing short of masterful, and the gradual increase in intensity really drives home the sense of impending doom.

We finally encounter a song which is not just pure aggression out of the gate with "Terra Arrasada". Murky doom metal gradually fades in. It's a hazy, mantra-like atmosphere with towering walls of distorted guitar. This track gives me strong flashes of Oranssi Pazuzu's last release with its abstract riffs and raspy vocals. The song's quieter moments reveal subtle jazz licks, but they're soon swallowed up by icy walls of black metal. Around the halfway point, more Brazilian rhythms make an appearance, and the way they're folded into the metal instrumentation is perfect.

"Lobisomem" opens with an extended fade-in of black metal atmospherics before exploding into pure fury. There's an askew clean guitar riff that makes a striking impression in the moments between verses, and even a break of bluesy stoner-doom for a few bars before launching into some spacey jazz metal. Seven Impale saxophonist Benjamin Mekki Widerøe makes a guest appearance here, and his contributions add a mournful tenor. Around this song's midpoint is the most obvious Magma homage yet: skittering snare drum and cosmic ambience recall "Theusz Hamtaahk". It resolves to a bruising sludge metal passage topped with wailing saxophone.

Holoceno ends on its 10-minute title track. Warbling synth pads and gentle acoustic guitars give the listener their calmest moment on the album. This is about as close to conventional progressive rock as shows up here. When the saxophone enters, it calls to mind a better version of Gilmour-era Pink Floyd. At around five minutes in, though, the song suddenly shifts to a Van der Graaf-y riff led by saxophone and pounded out aggressively on the drums. It feels like a maelstrom is building, and when it finally lands, it does not disappoint. It's huge, evil, and overpowering avant-garde metal. Tight, technical guitar parts lay the backing for dramatic saxophone and vocal lines. "Holoceno" somehow keeps upping the intensity, bringing the album to a downright-apocalyptic conclusion.

I did not expect to be reviewing two absolutely stellar avant-prog releases back-to-back, but here we are. Papangu effortlessly weaves together avant-garde, sludge, and zeuhl influences into a menacing, murky album. Holoceno is full of dark, twisting guitar lines and absolutely thunderous drums. I was absolutely blown away by this album, and I cannot recommend it enough. I've been listening to this on repeat since I first ran across it, and I find new things to love on each listen.

Review originally posted here:

 Holoceno by PAPANGU album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.41 | 29 ratings

Papangu Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
Prog Reviewer

5 stars You know, I am honestly surprised there are not a lot of Prog Metal bands out there that merge a heavy and brutal sound with Zeuhl music. I mean, it isn't uncommon to see or hear bands feeling some love for Zeuhl bands like Magma; Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree has expressed his love for the genre and Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth also really adores Zeuhl a lot. I never, though, heard any mix of Prog Metal and Zeuhl together, besides Magma's ?laǧ Tanƶ. No, I want real, true, Zeuhl Metal. Heavier sounds mixed with jazzy and modern classicism that is so strange in its approach. Luckily, released last year, Holoceno by Papangu, answers my deepest desires.

I said "answers", but what I meant was "absolutely blowing my mind and body". Dear lord, this album is so good. Every track here feels like my body is getting pounded by extreme and heavy metal while a jazzist serenades my corpse, and I absolutely love it. The first track of Ave-Bala just gets me ready for this giant roller coaster of an album. Winding and strange passages of music mixed with a large focus on instrumentation and surrealism; not backing off on what Zeuhl is, but what Zeuhl can be in a Metal context.

The huge jazz sound on here just really adds to the flavors for me. I absolutely love how, while it is a Metal album, they put huge focus on the brass movements, creating this giant, big band feel on the whole record. They play so well with the intense guitars that it takes a unique approach to Metal music that I haven't heard before, and I am all for it.

That is not the only good thing here, nah-ah. The drums, man I love those drums. Just the extreme, mathematical, and slamming drums applied here just makes me salivate. They remind me a lot of Zach Hill's drumming styles, but a lot less snare focused and more bass drum focused. They know how to pound away into your ears, but they still know how to step back a bit and let the other instruments shine. They really do take and hone in on Christian Vander's drumming styles and not only run with them, but make it their own.

If I had only one critique for this album, it's more of a nitpick, but it's so good that I feel as though it might be TOO good, that a possible next release the band might do, might not reach the same highs as this record. We'll never know until the future arrives, but this album is so well made and so polished that I fear they won't ever achieve this high level of greatness again. That is just my own two cents though.

Talk about an amazing and highly underrated release. This first album from Papangu has become one of my favorites of the 2020s so far, and I think it might be quickly becoming my favorite of the previous year. Seriously, if you haven't heard this album yet, do yourself a huge favor and listen to it. You'll get some great music out of it.

 Holoceno by PAPANGU album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.41 | 29 ratings

Papangu Experimental/Post Metal

Review by nick_h_nz
Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars [Originally published as a mini-review at The Progressive Aspect]

Holy crap! This album is amazing, and easily one of the most impressive from 2021. Certainly, it is the most impactful debut of 2021 that I've heard. If I had to pigeonhole the band, I guess I'd call them prog metal - but there is so much in their music, as can be seen from the tags they've used on their Bandcamp page. While not sounding really like any of these, Papangu is reminiscent to me of a melange of Magma and Mastodon, generated by Guayo and Gentle Giant, blended with Bowie and Bubu, curated by King Crimson and Kayo Dot, and overseen by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Shining. Honestly the sheer eclecticism of Papagnu's sound is amazing just in the way it is all pulled together without sounding convoluted and impenetrable. The music is avant, but accessibly so.

One of the Bandcamp tags is 'Zeuhl', and you can certainly hear several elements of this in Papagnu's sound - and in particular in the martial rhythms that pervade the album. However, rather than sounding otherworldly, they sound rooted to the geographic origins of the band. I'm not at all familiar with Brazilian folk music, but much of Papangu's music sounds traditional and tribal. Even the psychedelia of their music is less from the hallucinogenic qualities of Pink Floyd and Hawkwind, than from Psilocybin and Ayahuasca. I love how much of their own culture Papangu has poured into their music, and melded beautifully with styles from across the world and across the ages. I have railed against the term world music in the past, but with Holoceno, Papangu have created some superb world music, boundless in breadth, depth and inspiration.

Holoceno is an incredibly ambitious album for a debut, and it could so easily have fallen flat on its face. Rather, it so very quickly attained an almost cult status, that only five or six months after its release, it was unsurprising to see it appearing in so many end-of-year lists. Yet, while there has been a social media storm over just how mind-blowing this debut is, it's been largely contained to metal circles. And that's a great shame, as while there's no doubt much for metal lovers to get their teeth into, there's so much more, and (particularly if you like either the French or Japanese brands of Zeuhl) plenty for adventurous listeners willing to give this band a listen. The execution of Papangu's confluence of sounds and styles is exceptional and flawless, the musicianship is of a very high level, and the album has beautiful production. This is the sort of innovative album that the phrase "it shouldn't work" was made for. But it does. It works in a magnificent and addictive way, and I can't wait to hear what the band comes up with next. Given this debut was seven years in the making, I rather hope I don't need to wait that long?

 Holoceno by PAPANGU album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.41 | 29 ratings

Papangu Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars One of the things i love about the internet age is that the entire history of music has been laid bare and pretty much put on an equal playing field without record companies dictating what should be heard and what should be jettisoned to the trash bin. As this age continues on, newer musicians have pretty much embraced the entire musical history as their influence instead of a few bands that existed as they grew up. This has seriously challenged the notion of labeling as the desire to create music without any restrictions continues to grow although plenty of retro bands are happy to stick to a designed genre.

Musical complacency is certainly not the case for Brazilian band PAPANGU which formed in 2012 in the city of Joāo Pessoa but has only finally released its debut HOLOCENO in 2021. Initially the band was content as a simple stoner rock trio but as time went on got into sludge metal and eventually the more progressive angsty sludge metal of early Mastodon. But why stop there? The band was equally fascinated by the tripped out zeuhl rhythms of bands like Magma and after seven years of stewing these ingredients in the cauldron of their own making, PAPANGU has hit the ground running with a rather unique mix of musical ideas in a combo effect that i have never heard before!

The band consists of Marco Mayer (bass, vocals, synthesizer), Hector Mota (guitar, vocals, percussion), Rai Accioly (guitar, vocals) and Nichollas Jaques (drums, percussion) who all came from various musical backgrounds including punk rock, thrash metal and doom metal. Their mission is to do to metal what Brazilian musician Edu Lobo did to traditional Brazilian music in the 1970s. Inspirations include not only Magma and Mastodon but Edu Lobo himself who performed traditional bossa nova and a style called MPB, short for short for música popular brasileira, is a loosely defined genre that formed in the mid-1960s as a modernised version of bossa nova and samba-canção which adopted foreign styles of music.

Add to those formidable influences, King Crimson styled progginess adds an extra helping of tight-knit time signature workouts. The band sings exclusively in Portuguese so therefore one could conclude that PAPANGU implements the zeuhl rhythmic drive of Magma, the metal intensity of Mastodon, the prog rock overdrive of King Crimson and melds it all with the immediacy of traditional Brazilian musical styles heard especially in the lyrical deliveries. HOLOCENO is listed as a concept album but i have no friggin clue as to what that may be about since my Portuguese is rather weak as far as understanding it spoken or sung.

Given these opposing influences on board it might sound like a tall order to fill but PAPANGU manages to keep the songs diverse with some sounding like "Bacia das Almas" resembling more energetic and heavy carnival music while "Terra Arrasada" taking on a menacing doom metal tone. There are also four guest musicians adding the tones and timbres of extra percussion, minimoogs, saxophones and extra dialogue. Add to that the production is excellent and a remix of "Açougue das Almas" which features Kayo Dot's Toby Driver in the mixer's chair is available on some editions as a bonus track.

Well, HOLOCENO pretty much checks off many things i love about adventurous music. It's proggy, it's heavy, it's experimental yet familiar. It's accessible yet weird as hell. It's irreverence towards the status quo is high and the passion is on fire! The zeuhl rhythms keep it from spiraling out of control and the highly creative mojo on display keeps it from getting stale. This is really an outstanding example of progressive music that progresses without sacrificing the somewhat ossified terminology that has come into play. Highly recommended for those who love bands like Kayo Dot, King Crimson and even Norway's Shining. Avant-garde and unusual but chock full of sounds that will remind you of some of your favorites!

Thanks to tcat for the artist addition.

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