Amygdala will likely be lumped in with Venom Prison due to being label mates on Prosthetic Records, but that’s lazy. Not every band screaming angrily about abortion is the same, and similarities beyond that are few and far between.
Amygdala hail from San Antonio and were better known in the hardcore scene. On their first EP, 2014’s The Horror Of Never Being Able To Forget and 2016’s Population Control, the band used a modified Anarchy symbol within the logo for their name and the music was some of the most brutally hardcore flavored screamo likely to make ears bleed. Additionally the band did more than just attack the patriarchy; being made up entirely of Latino migrant families, the group pointedly addressed what it’s like to be brown in an America led by Donald Trump.
There is a marked difference between Our Voices Will Soar Forever from the previous material and this is most noted within the track “Semillas.” Amygdala originally recorded the song live in 2016 at a Standing Rock benefit featuring a ceremony prayer by indigenous Guatemalans. Both versions begin with Quiñones’ profound screams, “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds. They tried to silence us, but you can’t silence a mind that’s free,” however the newly recorded studio version loses the ceremony and turns the 85 seconds left far more pummeling and impactful than before.
Even without the direct comparison, the sophomore release benefits from a superior recording that makes the band sound far more powerful in every way. There’s also complexity and nuance that the band likely grew into. The despondency of “18 Years and Counting” is not only within the poignant lyrics but also how the song goes from Deftones dissonance to spastic punk fury…The pro-choice screed “Our Bodies, Our Choice” shimmers impactfully while “Why Can’t I Heal,” a tale about abuse from the perspective of a survivor, is slow and haunting, a contradiction to the speed the band reveled in.
That said, there’s plenty of speed here. “It Takes a Village” is furious grindcore. However the better production coupled with more confident musicianship give it all a more metallic sound. “I Hate to Say It” is bludgeoning metalcore while “We Exist // Yo Existo” has epic groove metal rhythms. Hardcore bands “going metal” used to be the ultimate insult, but Amygdala takes the musicianship of metal while never losing the emotionality of hardcore that got them to this point. And they’re kicking in every door, and that includes the doors of fake allies (“Look Back and Reflect”).
It’s a bad time for the rights of people of color, and especially women of color, in this country. But it is a great time for powerful bands of color raging against all of the injustice. It’s a great time for Amygdala.