It’s been six years since Latino hardcore fury group La Armada released their full-length, self-titled debut album.
It has been nearly four years since the Dominican-turned-Chicagoan based band released Crisis, a highly political seven-track EP that solidified the band’s unique crossover sound–a blending of hardcore punk and metal with native Dominican rhythms.
It’s been over four months since the group’s last Chicago appearance when the five-piece band hosted a Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief benefit show at the Cobra Lounge back in early December 2017.
It has now been two weeks since La Armada released their long-awaited album, Anti-Colonial Vol. 1.
On Saturday, April 14, La Armada officially debuted the new LP at their record release show at the Near West Side venue and brewery, Cobra Lounge. The show celebrated the release of Anti-Colonial Vol. 1 with a stacked metal lineup, political activism and the premiere of new La Armada merch and variant vinyl records.
New-to-the-scene hardcore group Bad Blood was the first to take the stage. Their brutal slams and heavy breakdowns warmed up a hesitant crowd. The band played songs off their EP Jawshot, as well as a few unrecorded tracks.
“We try to bring mixed bills to our all-ages shows, and our friends at Cobra Lounge are always happy to host, said La Armada bassist Mani Marte. “We know Bad Blood from playing local shows; the guitar player actually used to go to a lot of our shows back in the day. They are one of my favorite local bands right now and we were glad to have them on the show. ”
Next on the lineup was KNAAVES a hardcore heavy metal group from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The band put out a two-track release in February, featuring the tracks “January” and “Nine Lives Lost.”
“KNAAVES are our homies from Milwaukee. They just released an EP, January, and we kind of traded hometown shows with them over the weekend,” said Marte.
Another out-of-town-act, sludgey doom metal band Fister from St. Louis, Missouri, was the final group to play before La Armada performed. Fister’s set only contained three songs, though they played for the same length of time as the other bands. Their performance combined heavy riffs and a smoke machine with insane waves of ear-rattling feedback.
“Fister is part of a St. Louis-based record label that helps us with the distribution of our merch. We’ve been trying to play a show with them for a while and decided that this one was the perfect opportunity,” said Marte.
After Fister exited the stage, the five members of La Armada began their soundcheck. Before beginning their headlining set, the band gathered side stage to take whiskey shots together.
Unlike many record release shows where the band plays their new record in its entirety, La Armada incorporated old fan favorites throughout their set. Songs written in English, such as “Chiraq,” the title track off of Crisis, and the newly-released “Homan Square” off of Anti-Colonial Vol. 1 were played in contrast to the band’s songs written in Spanish, such as “Los Intocables.”
“Spanish is our native language, but after years of living in Chicago, we’ve felt the need to sing about local issues affecting our community. Writing in English just felt like the best way to get out message out there for everyone to hear,” said Marte. “Songs like ‘Chiraq,’ ‘Unquenchable’ or ‘Homan Square’ are good examples of this. On the other hand, we still keep our relationship with the DR and Latin America very close and the songs in which we talk about these places are in Spanish.”
La Armada’s political and community activism doesn’t stop with writing political songs in both Spanish and English. In December, the group played a benefit show for victims of the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, and they will also be playing a benefit for the Little Village Summer Softball League on April 26 at ChiTown Futbol.
At their record release show, La Armada featured #NoCopAcademy, a campaign supported by many local community organizations that seeks to defund Chicago Police Department spending and to reallocate those funds towards marginalized communities in Chicago. #NoCopAcademy is a movement that is fighting for better-funded public schools, mental health centers, job training and career building programs and other beneficial resources in some of the most marginalized communities in the city.
Finally, if you’re one of the many fans wondering if Anti-Colonial Vol. 1 is foreshadowing a followup release, we have an answer for you: “Absolutely.”
“The writing process for this record was very demanding. We composed a lot of material but only ended up polishing a handful of the songs that we felt were relevant to this particular release,” said Marte. “There will be a volume two soon. We are already working on it.”
You can hear La Armada’s mix of hardcore punk, metal, and island rhythms yourself at Decline’s record release show. The show will take place on April 26 at Chi-Town Futbol with Chicagoans Racetraitor, Through n Through and 2MinuteMinor.