In mid-December of last year the Obama Administration announced an array of changes in U.S. governmental policies affecting relationships with Cuba (summarized here), including the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, easing of travel restrictions, and permitting certain kinds of import-export trade. Putting aside all the political hot air about the decision that has been vented in the U.S. since then, there’s no doubt it will be the start of dramatic changes inside Cuba itself.
Those changes were inevitable, it was just a question of when. Some observers are adamant that the effects will be negative, some are equally adamant they will be positive. They will probably be both good and bad.
From afar, Cuba has looked to me like a place where life has been frozen in time since the 1950s. There’s a kind of dilapidated charm to the photos and videos and descriptions of life that I’ve seen and read. I don’t mean to be condescending — I readily admit that I have no clear idea of what it’s actually like to exist there from day to day and year to year. But whatever that reality is, it’s going to change, just as the outward appearance of the cities and towns is going to change.
One of many aspects of Cuban life I know nothing about is the extent to which there is a metal underground in the country. I learned something about that from watching the video you’re about to see, which also captures some of those outward scenes of daily life and place mentioned above.
The video is a mini-documentary that follows a French alternative hardcore band named The Prestige during their two-week visit to Cuba, where they were invited to tour and to perform at the winter edition of something called the Brutal Beatdown Fest, which is apparently the island’s only international extreme music fest.
The video is narrated by the band’s Alex Diaz and it was directed by “Berzerker“, who did a truly beautiful job. The video’s name is “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” — and of course there’s music at the end, which sounds good to me.
As you’ll learn from the video, metal and rock music were prohibited in Cuba until recently (Sepultura appears to have been the first metal band to play in Cuba when they performed there in 2005.) But as you’ll also see, there are definitely metalheads in Cuba. Undoubtedly, there will be more and more over time, as those changes discussed at the outset of this post begin to happen. Whatever else occurs, that seems like a good thing.
P.S. The Prestige have a new album coming out this April via Party Smasher, Inc., and you can now download for free a first track entitled “Léger de Main”, either from the band’s web site or from their Bandcamp page. I’ve included a stream of that song below the video — and you’ll recognize it from the closing part of the video.
Ah, now you show your true Communist colours!
My true colors are more in the vein of cigars, rum, and son cubano. 🙂
Great piece, and some good music to boot.
there’s a cuban metal band i like called Combat Noise, they’re really awesome 🙂
You know of one more Cuban metal band than I do. 🙂