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Bala – Maleza Award winner

by Gary Hernandez at 07 June 2021, 7:17 PM

BALA is an Alternative/Metal duo out of Galicia, Spain. They formed in 2013 and have released three albums and one single (a SMASHNG PUMPKINS cover). Their latest album, “Maleza,” (trans: weeds) was released on May 14, 2021 on Century Media. Their first two albums, “Human Flesh” and “Lume,” both released on Matapadre, are raw and visceral and brutal and amazing. “Maleza” tops them.

You would think that six years on from their first album, V and Anx would maybe mellow out a bit and just calm the hell down. You would think that now that they are on a major label, they would suffer some sort of domestication — you know, get polished and refined. You would think that after touring internationally, pre-COVID of course, they might be stunned into submission by the enormity of the whole scene. And you would be wrong on all counts. This band is every bit as fierce and intense as they were when they started, maybe more so.

For the linguistically challenged — e.g., Americans and British — “bala” means “bullet.” And that pretty much captures the heart of this band. I’m surprised there aren’t at least six other metal bands with the same name . . . which brings up the first point. You won’t find BALA in The Metal Archives, at least not as of the writing of this review. Most people refer to them as Alternative or Punk. But here’s the thing: Metal is one part a musical aesthetic and 12,000 parts spirit. In my book, BALA is Metal. Which is to say, most metalheads upon listening to BALA’s music, upon hearing their lyrics, upon feeling their essence will recognize them as family.

So, this album. At twenty-five minutes, “Maleza” is either a long EP or a short LP. It explodes out of the barrel with “Agitar,” which musically is as crushing as they come but lyrically is so authentic and so human you wonder how all these sentiments can be in the same space at the same time. Then you remember, “Oh yeah, music, art, metal.” Eight tracks later you arrive at “Una Selva” (trans: a jungle), perhaps a nod to the title of this album (there is no title track, btw). This final song moves with Doom proportions and is both sludgy and volatile with fat, full-fisted riffs pounding your woofers like they hold a grudge. And in between these musical bookends is a veritable library of aggression and self-possession. At the end of the pandemic when there is so much navel gazing and social disruption, BALA breaks forward with a fierce optimism which says, “not me, not today.”

My pick of standout tracks today are “Agitar” for its sheer viscera; “X” for its simplicity and straightforward boots in face; “Quieres Entrar” (trans: you want to enter) for is oscillation from onslaught to haunt; and “Bessie” for its sheer massiveness. I say “today” because I haven’t taken this album off rotation since I got it, and every time I listen to it, I walk away with new favorites. Every track on this album is stunning. Oh, I should mention that both band members share vocal duties, and they also sing in both Spanish and English. Always a win to my ears.

Century Media has wasted no time in throwing support behind this album with five of the tracks already converted to video. I’m not complaining. I’m thrilled that this powerhouse duo is finally getting some well-deserved attention. Like the shark jaws on the cover, “Maleza” is primal, lethal, and gorgeous. A sweet 11 on the 10-point scale.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Agitar
2. Hoy No
3. X
4. Mi Orden
5. Cien Obstáculos
6. Quieres Entrar
7. Rituais
8. Bessie
9. Una Selva
Violeta Mosquera (“V”) – Drums, Vocals
Anxela Baltar (“Anx”) – Guitars, Vocals
Record Label: Century Media Records


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Edited 03 June 2023

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