Story time with TheKenWord is upon us again, frens. Today our tale begins waaaaaaayyyy out at sea, on a little boat that happens to hold a musical event or two. With me was my suave knight in shining beer cans, MarkZ, as we rocked out into the wee hours of the morn’. As the clock strikes five for the first time, and I begin to doze off, I see our inebriated stallion bumble his way around a dwindling pit, headbanging endearingly out of time (and possibly space). Who is this band anyway? Something called….. No Raza? OK, whatever. Anyway, the band’s saying they’ll do one more song. Cool. That means it’s almost time to get in line for the merch lottery. I try to call out to Z but he’s too busy trying to avoid the only person on the planet durnker than he, a diminutive girl who is either dancing derpfully or falling flamboyantly, it’s difficult to tell. No Raza finish their song, and then they play four more because they probably were also drunk and ecstatic to be there. Security staff comes around and the Alpha nods to his Betas, commanding them to go up to the stage and pull the plug. All the equipment dies unceremoniously. The band looks confused for a spell, as though they suddenly found themselves in fuckin’ Neverland or some shit, before shrugging and waving appreciatively—with just a hint of sadness for leaving the stage—at the sixteen people that comprised their audience. Z attempted to establish another pit at this juncture, as you do.
The moral of the story is that, even at ass-o’-clock in the morning, Colombian death metal quartet No Raza were able to keep not only themselves, but also their audience, awake and fairly hyped for an hour and twenty minutes. That’s nearly twice the span they had allotted. So you can bet your bottom dollar I was going to snag promo for their fourth and latest outing, Transcending Material Sins. Not a doubt crossed my mind that I was in for a treat. Meat and potatoes makes for fun death metal, and No Raza no tuvieron problemas serving up a boatload of it. For fifty-five minutes, these purveyors of punishment pummel your puny personages with pro-tier riffs and palpable propulsion.
Opener “On the Verge of Dying Out” showcases not one, not two, not three, but an indeterminate number of distinct riffs that carry its six minutes effortlessly along. The track serves well as a template for what No Raza‘s packing. Big riff energy extends well into the meat of the record, with standouts “Ancient Wars,” “Reborn,” and “Sail in Rot” reminiscent of Hate Eternal, a bare-bones Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Mutilated by Zombies, respectively. Through wisely integrated embellishments—often taking the form of trem-picked flourishes or a quick twang—No Raza kick their riffcraft up a notch above the status quo, resulting in memorable songs and catchy grooves. Closer “En Carne y Hueso” (a short instrumental outro comes after, but we don’t speak of such nonsense) is especially memorable right from the beginning with a viral riff that carries a grand melody with it. When the riff transforms into something decidedly un-melodic, songfuckery persists anyway thanks to an excellent sweeping lead and delicate clean-picked passages.
While the above examples prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that No Raza writes memorable death metal, they also write generic death metal. No new shenanigans are afoot, and the path taken is decidedly right-handed. “Alteración Mental” offers quality groove, but it’s stale enough that I crave something fresher. “Decontamination” and “Atrición” do their best to provide audiences with something slower to give the album a sense of ebb and flow, but both end up equating to filler. “Scorn” was so close to constituting a major highlight, but unfortunately the stereotypical mid-song jam drags it back down to “meh-plus.” Even the SepticFleshed “Fratricide” contains plenty of strong riffs to please any listener, yet also qualifies as a cookie-cutter death metal number and is therefore unremarkable.
Without the aforementioned songs, or at least if most of them spent more time in the cutting room, Transcending Material Sins could’ve been an unqualified success. Regardless, I still consider it a record worth spinning, with only minor miscalculations on No Raza‘s part. And if you ever get the chance to see them live, do yourselves a favor. Go. Get fucking krunk as fuck and open up that motherfucking pit.