Travel down South of the border (and if you’re Canadian, do yourself a favour and skip the US entirely) to a lawless city of vice and danger—Tijuana, Mexico. A city overrun with drugs and annoying American tourists, the perfect conditions to form an angry death metal band like Among Cowards. Although formed in 2015, the members have been involved in the Baja California metal scene for the past 15 years. Operating in secret, they emerged from the shadows this past April with their debut self-titled EP.
This first taste is a message of defiance, “No Slave, No Master” opens with the heavy distortion of Ramon Ramos, followed by the double-bass kick of Luis Roman and the deep growl of Diego Ramirez. The lyrics are in basic English, but Ramirez doesn’t need profound poetry to vent his wrath towards politicians and organized religion. He cuts straight to the point, describing the violence and propaganda swarming around him, without remaining vague in his description. It’s a pissed-off nihilistic look at the human condition that has existed decades, not limited to the specific timeframe of the Trump era.
Ramos and bassist Uval Ramirez provide the perfect balance of caveman riffs and frantic thrash shredding. There’s the occasional solo in “The Great Decay” and “Gagged By Faith,” but it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Within four bars, Ramos returns to palm-muting over Roman’s blast beats.
There’s not too much variety found in these four tracks. Among Cowards stick to a formula, committing a consistent sound throughout. But if you like your death metal fast, heavy and simple, then you’ll eat this up by the spoonful. Some similar sounding artists off the top of my head are Rotten Sound, or fellow Mexican band Brujeria (and judging by their revolving door of mysterious members, I bet that at some point, at least one member of Among Cowards donned a black bandana before starting their own project).
Written by Chris Aitkens
*edited by Danielle Kenedy