Marcelo Camela – Metal – EP Review
Behold! The axe-man cometh!
How many times on these pages have I written about the impact of surprise? If you’ve been following along with our pages over the years, listening to our shows & whatnot – the name Marcelo Camela and his incredible guitar-skills should be plenty familiar to you. That being said, what might escape many, even our most dedicated readers – is that there has been an astounding amount of personal evolution in this artist as the years have gone on since our first encounter. At first we discovered a humble-but-proudly faith-based instrumentalist on the album Praise And Strings back in 2015; it boasted a set-list of songs strong enough to reach even those outside of religion, without question. In that same year, he’d even go on to challenge me even further by sending in a Christmas tune, and you all know how I generally feel about those (cue eye-roll)…yet this man’s musicianship and passion went on to beat the odds once more. From those two experiences alone, I could already tell that the amount of crossover appeal in Marcelo’s music was there and possessed the extraordinary ability to reach a massive amount of people, and that the way he played guitar was of a caliber that any real musician out there would not only completely respect, but they’d likely be in awe of it, just like I have been, many times now.
Flash-forward about three years, and Camela pops back into our world in 2018 with the lead-single “Make Life Look Beautiful” from the album Melodies In Motion, which we’d go on to review about six months down the road in 2019. And that’s the light-bulb moment for a few of you out there right now that are realizing where they remember the name from now – Marcelo Camela went on to be a part of our annual search for the year’s Best New Sound with an official nomination to our 2019 top-ten list. Well-deserved accolades…he did an amazing job on Melodies In Motion and gave these speakers of ours a solid reminder that he really is one of the best out there when it comes to technical proficiency & passion combined; some of us are lucky enough to get one or the other – Marcelo’s got both in spades. I wouldn’t say the faith-based aspect of his work was absent by any means…and I’m sure he wouldn’t say that either…I think this dude is always ridin’ high with the Lord, and right on, all the more power to them both at the end of the day – but that being said, it was toned-down on the surface-level in a way that might have even expanded the potential reach for an artist like Marcelo and the music he’s making. Even the songs seemed more radiant, alive, colorful…you could tell he was embracing his talent with the confidence it deserved…and let me tell ya, that combination at max-power is essentially impossible to beat…Camela more than proved he’s a modern-day virtuoso and one heck of a musician & songwriter.
In behind the scenes throughout the years I’ve also been lucky enough to have many conversations with Marcelo – and I can vouch with firsthand knowledge that he’s literally one of THE nicest people you’ll ever have the privilege to meet in one lifetime. No joke! Such a humble dude, always polite – I mean, listen to the last time we interviewed him on the SBS Podcast in 2019 – you can’t help but like this guy! So of course I can’t wait to get to this new record he’s got! Let me just push play on this new EP here, because I always…really…ummm…I…uhhh…that is I have…ummm…
…always enjoyed the sweet & sincere melodies he’s created…in the past…
Marcelo – what is THIS we have here?
Let me tell ya folks – you’ve never heard him like this before…and I suspect you’d have thought you’d never would – Marcelo dives deep into the mayhem of Metal with zero apologies and no holds barred. Not JUST Metal mind you – “Death Metal” – and that’s a quote from the man himself. Talk about surprising! I mean, c’mon…when was the last time you remember a dude switching it up from a fairly gentle faith-based demeanor into the raging chaos of Death Metal? I think we can all agree that, if it HAS happened somewhere in music’s history, it would certainly be a rare event to say the least, yes?
And NO…before you even think to ask – no Marcelo is not sitting at home in the middle of a pentagram, basking in goat-blood, and casting spells on the less fortunate souls out there now – just because he switches up the style & sound of his music is no reason to question his commitment to his faith. If anything, you’ll realize it’s likely quite the opposite; sure there are a few biblical references to be found along the way within the tortured screams that line the walls of this set-list…but that’s not the ultimate purpose behind a record like Metal. In my opinion, it runs so much deeper than that…this is an artist recognizing just how little awesomeness there tends to be within the music of the faith-based community and filling a genuine need with a whole range of styles that provide exciting new listening options where almost next to none had existed before. I don’t profess to know even half of what’s out there in the faith-based world of music…I know a bit…and I’m not saying I’ve been shown the top-shelf stuff necessarily…all I’m saying is that they could really use a champion of versatility and diversity in sound like Marcelo. He’s got the skills and passion that shine through no matter what mode you find him in – you’ll hear it even in the most extreme version of himself and the gnarly songs on the Metal EP.
To his credit, he sure ain’t tryin’ to hide this transition in sound, that I can tell ya. From the moment you click play and reveal the behemoth & beastly first cut “Betraying The King,” you get an extreme jolt to the system that tells you instantly you’re in for a savagely different experience from what you think you know about Camela’s music. He flips the script here, no doubt. There have been tiny peeks at this throughout the years in a brief moment of aggression or amped-up energy on a couple tunes – but Metal minces no meat when cutting straight to the bone about all this; it’s time to crank-up the rage to eleven and make some serious noise! “Betraying The King” comes out so intense that by the time you even look up to realize what just happened, you’ll already be onto the next cut; I sat here in a frozen mix of shock & awe as Marcelo ripped through the first song on his new EP and stormed into a punishing sound I just never would have expected from the guy! Like I’ve been tellin’ you all from the get-go here, surprise can be such an incredible aspect of music and help it make even more of an impact – and besides all that, having the creative courage and freedom to make whatever kind of song or record you wanna create is one of the greatest parts about the entire art that so many cut themselves right off from. Marcelo’s doing the exact opposite in exploring what other styles & genres have to offer, and vice-versa – it gives him the opportunity to test out his skills in a whole variety of new ways in the process – and ultimately, all that is going to benefit him as an artist as he continues to expand his talent. For us as listeners…sure, there IS going to be a few people out there that aren’t going to be able to hang with just how intense & dramatic this shift in sound truly IS…and I get that…but for others, Marcelo and his penchant for exploring new avenues of music is precisely what we’re looking for. A song like “Betraying The King” is so big & bold that you can’t help but sit, listen, and admire the fact that Camela has been so willing to make such a massive departure from what we know in his music to what we hear now…if it wasn’t for the persistent skill in his playing, you’d be inclined to call this a full 180 for certain.
When you realize & recognize just how true to the scorching style of Death Metal running rampant throughout that entire genre, it’s quite the testament to Marcelo’s versatility & ability to adapt and thrive inside of any environment. And I have no doubt a record like this would likely up his street-cred with the musicians out there as well; it can be hard to break the stigma that faith-based music can create in a career through the lighter folk-sounds it’s typically associated with – this proves it can be done by a man with a foot firmly in both worlds, unafraid to explore what he might find in either of’em. So it’s in saying that, I make no illusions here – Metal is a record for fans of the extreme for sure and not one created for the faint of heart – the music being made on this EP could knock a person flat on their ass if they got too close to the speakers and they weren’t prepared for the scathing sounds blasting out. Listen to the killer drums and the immediate intensity in the seething vocals of “The Rains” will ya? Where I come from, back in the ol’ hometown near Vancouver, BC, Canada – this would be considered essential listening by more than half the scene out there…they have a penchant for the hard stuff over there on the west coast. But of course, MANY of you out there do as well…and if you’re one of’em, then hey, this Bud’s for you – hoist up a pint and celebrate the sonic chaos surrounding you – it’s controlled & professional chaos mind-you, but chaos all the same. Death Metal would be one of the most niche genres out there in any corner of the music-scene…and I get that, it’s a lot for people to take in…but hearing songs done RIGHT in any style should also have an allure and attraction of its own, and I’d argue that’s what Camela’s got here. You might not put “The Rains” on in the office while you’re working any time soon (unless you’re the super badass dude in the back, you’re cool), but if this is the kind of music you like, you’ll be more than stoked to let this all rip loud’n’proud from the comfort of your own castle. While it’s hard to pin-down which of the three original cuts on this record would be ‘the single’ – I’d put “The Rains” out there as a strong candidate to be the track to lead listeners into the Metal EP…not because of any typical hooks or anything like that, but more because it punches out in such a powerful and determined way, that it would likely grab the attention of ears anywhere within a remote distance.
It’s almost like each of these songs decided to compete for the most gripping opening. Just when you thought it probably couldn’t get any more savage than the sound of “The Rains,” “Days Of Wrath” comes confidently off the bench and into the game to say ‘hold my beer’ and show the world what’s up when it comes to making monstrously mammoth material. Definitely some of my favorite guitar-work from Marcelo on this cut, and the lyricism of this track is some of the best you’ll find on the record as well. Hopefully he’ll include the liner-notes for you all when this record officially drops online on May 30th because I ain’t gonna sit here and pretend I got all the words from listening to the songs – like almost everything in the genre, there’s pretty much no way you could discern them without reading. And that’s FINE folks…different music for different functions, different moods, different modes – are you gonna try and convince me I need to know every word in order to scream along with Camela on “Days Of Wrath?” Because I haven’t so far, and neither will you…sometimes it just feels good to let one of those low guttural roars out, trust me, not only does it feel good, your neighbors will be sure to adhere to the ol’ social-distancing guidelines as a result as well – think of the benefits! “Days Of Wrath” is like the final scorching of the village you live in and a desperate plea for the Almighty to reach in and save you before you’re burned up along with it…it’s one massive mother of a song inside of a tight 4:14 and continues to let the Metal EP slay our faces off with searing hot sound that never gives us an inch of reprieve. To be fair, reprieve might be what’s being sought out in “Days Of Wrath,” but from the sounds of the blazing intensity lighting-up every corner of the atmosphere in this cut, chances are that the saving we’re seeking isn’t coming for any of us any time soon. One of the most effective dives into the genre for Camela, “Days Of Wrath” sounds like our LAST days are right ahead – you’ve been warned.
By taking on a whole different style of music this time around, it’s also opened the door for Marcelo to represent some of his influences from the heavy-side of sound with two cover songs to finish off the Metal EP. The first of which, is “The Weak Willed” originally by All That Remains, covered brilliantly by Camela and bringing serious justice to his tributary version – he holds absolutely nothing back and brings every ounce of the confidence & commitment he brings to his original music. Or in other words, he’s as jaw-dropping to listen to as you have always known him to be – perhaps magnified within these monstrous moments on the Metal EP, but he’s still the same incredible player he’s always been. Hearing him in this setting and savaging his amplifiers and the mic as hard as he has, along with the punishing drums that have been included on cuts like “The Weak Willed” have really shown us a whole new dimension of what he’s capable of. Not like somewhere inside us all we didn’t think he had it in him, but just in case, you’ve now got full audible proof that Camela has the chops it takes for the Death Metal genre. You’ll find a lot of his own greatest moments are underneath the surface…between the rhythm guitars grinding, the relentless beating of drums, and furious vocals bellowing and screaming into the mic, it might take more than a few spins to fully appreciate the true scale & magnitude of all that is being put into these songs, but with a dedicated listen, you’ll certainly hear he’s put in the work.
SOMEHOW…the man has continually driven this set to victory through sheer sonic force. I honestly don’t know that any one tune could be singled out as any more or less savage than the next one, or the song before it…the Metal EP has an undeniable consistency and never lets its grip on you loosen. Marcelo ends super strong on the enormous sounds his cover of “Within Destruction” originally by As I Lay Dying, strapping on his big giant audio boots one last time to make certain our villages are squashed as he stomps out this final track. Give the man some real credit for doing what he’s done here on this record…it’s ambitious, it’s adventurous, it’s exciting, and it’s got teeth that could rip your ears right off your face if you’re not careful…it’s no easy task to just switch up a style as completely & totally as Camela has here, and he’s genuinely pulled it off. I’m no giant advocate of Death Metal at the end of the day on the whole…it’s a really hard genre to find a nice gentle melody inside of, know what I mean? But I’ve certainly heard enough in my lifetime to know when it’s done right, with the passion & respect it deserves…you can’t go into this kind of music half-assed, or you’ll be eaten by wolves and internet trolls instantly – facts. Camela has proven his ability to adapt & thrive through the remarkable consistency on display throughout this set of five songs and his clear dedication to excellence…quite simply, there couldn’t be a true fan of the genre out there that wouldn’t appreciate the music on the Metal EP. He’s crushing it hard at the end on his cover of “Within Destruction” and kicking out the jams with steel toes – the rumble & rattle of this last cut is supreme…and like, LISTEN to this dude surge into the two-minute mark post-breakdown will ya? If that doesn’t prove what I’ve been tellin’ ya all along about Marcelo’s ability to blow your mind with commitment & musicianship at maximum force, damn near nothing will.
Marcelo Camela is making a comeback to the SBS Podcast in an upcoming episode soon as part of the Covid Relief 2020 project at sleepingbagstudios…we MIGHT even have an EXCLUSIVE peek at his next record that you wanna make sure to tune-in for as well, just sayin.’ You’ll be the first to know when those specials on the show drop onto the internet – until then, find out more about Marcelo Camela at his official homepage at: https://www.marcelocamela.com
Join the thousands of bands & artists reviewed at sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!