Clava: Brazilian Outfit Drops Politically-Minded ‘90s-Style Metallic Hardcore on New Record

Photo: Bruno Dafoto Martins

Clava is a '90s-style metallic hardcore band from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil No Echo wanted to get on your radar. "We started the band in 2020, I was getting a tattoo from (drummer) Vitor and we were talking about bands we liked and we kinda joked about starting a straight edge band like Coke Bust," says guitarist/vocalist Guilherme Kirk. "It wasn’t until a couple of months later that we actually started talking seriously about it and started thinking about who we would invite to join so we could start jamming.

"After that, we invited Alex (vocals), whom we knew from attending local shows, and always saw him selling vegan burgers and zines that he wrote. We loved his style of writing so we invited him to sing in the band and soon after that, we invited João Yates (bassist) to play with us. At the time we first invited him, he was really busy so he thought it would be best to not join."

Clava pressed on, developing their stylistic and songwriting approach along the way. "I guess our first EP, Declaração de Guerra dos Condenados da Terra, is a reflection of that period of trying to discover what we wanted to do. In the meantime, between the first rehearsals and the recording of the EP, our friend Alberto Tie Dye (Morte Em Espiral) played with us for a couple of weeks but it didn’t work out for him, so I ended up recording guitars and bass on the first EP.

"After the release of the EP and the comeback of local shows, we invited João again to play bass and he accepted this time, and with that, we started rehearsing for shows and working on the songs for the album. ”

Said album, Sudaméfrica, was released in August:

Guilherme talks Clava influences: "I guess the band would fall into the general metallic hardcore category. We all really like many types of hardcore, punk, metal, and everything in between. We try to incorporate in a cohesive way everything we like into Clava’s songs, trying to make a band we would like to hear. To try to materialize our influences I asked everyone three bands that they would say are influences to them, so here it is:

  • Alex: I Shot Cyrus, Rage Against the Machine, Parte Cinza
  • Guilherme: Colligere, The Black Dahlia Murder, Point of No Return
  • Yates: Sunami, Tragedy, Ground
  • Vitor: Excessive Force, Trial, Coke Bust

Clava vocalist Alex de la Rocha says the following about the band's lyrical point of view: "Before we say our opinion, it is necessary to contextualize where we say it from and where we want to get to, after all, every speech starts from somewhere, influenced by perspectives that reflect its influences and political objectives. I believe it is important to talk about urban and social geography to situate readers within the context in which I exist and how that context influences me.

"Each band member has their own way of looking at politics, and when I, Alex, write, I try to reflect what we all have in common. I start from a life experience inherent to a black man who grew up in a poor region of the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro, a neighborhood far from the capital. For those who don't know Rio, it is not just the South Zone of the territory, with its beautiful beaches and tourist attractions. To give you an idea, I come from a neighborhood two hours away from the Capital. It is no wonder that the metropolitan region that is not a business card (Baixada Fluminense, Zona Norte and Zona Oeste) is known as a dormitory city, because in addition to the enormous time it takes to get to work, we have to deal with a overcrowded public transport that is not integrated into the regions to which they belong. It is easier to go from the Baixada to the South Zone than to travel within the Baixada Fluminense itself. 

"There is a race that inhabits these regions, they are mostly black people, as opposed to those who inhabit the rich territory - mostly white people. And those who work the most are black women, the vast majority of whom are single mothers, who, in addition to fulfilling the function in their services, have all the responsibility for domestic work. In this region it is not common to have so many hardcore, metal, rock bands in general."

"The hardcore and metal scene in Rio de Janeiro, as in many places, has more white men than any other social category. After all, these are the people who have access and time available to look for, listen to, meet and play in bands. So, there is a challenge, which is not only pointing out what our challenges are, but getting to the scene, get to form a band. Therefore, race, gender and social class are interconnected and inseparable to think about the struggle we face.

"I talk about neocolonialism - the way we are underdeveloped by rich countries that exploit our work paying a very low salary that only meets our basic needs to continue to live it. When I talk about sovereignty and self-determination, about popular veganism, we don't want people to eat vegan fast food. We want people to change their relationship with food as a whole, but even that is difficult when we go to the market and all food has pesticides, in addition to an increasing amount of ultra-processed foods, including vegan food. It's absurd to call a plant-based burger vegan, when it's from a company that kills animals for human consumption. 

"Organic food is already very expensive. I already worked in a gourmet market and saw it happening on a daily basis. Most of the discarded food could be reused, but is discarded. Daily, we threw pounds of food in the trash. A small and derisory part was donated to a center that took care of the children, but only for the company to be tax exempt. Do you have an idea that between 60% and 80% of organic food on the market went to waste? Few people bought it because it was too expensive. And that's in the richest neighborhood in the North Zone! That's when I realized how this great company was allied to agribusiness. Because they make organic products more expensive so that people buy cheaper ones, with pesticides. We are targets of this nutrition, for years we have been a large laboratory of pesticides that are not even allowed experiments in "first world" countries (reinforcing: that they are only like that because they exploit underdeveloped countries in Latin and Central America, Africa and Asia). 

"I talk more about blackness than racism. Because I'm tired of talking about violence, and I don't know if you know, but police violence here is 5 times greater than in the USA. We don't have the biggest prison population in the world because we don't have more prisons, and the police believe that it's more efficient to kill a suspect. 40% of those incarcerated were not tried and convicted. And guess the race of 80% of this entire population deprived of their liberty. But what I really care about is thinking about new possibilities, new forms, another aesthetic, another content in the lyrics.

"I sing more about life than death, about hope and work. About refusing and, starting from this refusal, thinking about a new world and new forms of relationships. In 'The becoming-black of the world' music from our first EP (2021) I say that 'those who left the big night fear no evil. Therefore, there is no power to control them.' You can read this as people breaking free from an old colonial bond, but also as people coming from a place of great power. In the song that opens Sudaméfrica, 'Oeste,' the first stanza is: 'Burn that flag, tear down the walls, statues and buildings that the metropolis sustains.'

"I start from an excerpt I read in the One Piece manga (Burn that flag), when Luffy asks Robin if she wants the gang to save her, and tells Usopp to burn the World Government flag. May all the colonial and imperialist symbols burn. Next, I sing 'Tear down the walls' in allusion to the Trump Administration's promise to restrict access to the territory of a people that has been stolen, and that finds support not only here but in many parts of the world. "Statues'' on the occasion of the symbolic act of setting fire to the statue of Borba Gato, a colonizer who was a pioneer, a group responsible for decimating thousands of indigenous people in the colonial period and 'and buildings' because a police base was burned in the USA, and historically, the military police emerged in Brazil to protect the Portuguese Crown that was coming to Brazil, it is no wonder that its symbol, to this day, is a crown on top of two crossed weapons, and two branches around it, one of cana- of sugar and another of coffee, representing the slaveholding latifundia of the time. 

"I listed events in Brazil and the USA because they were mentioned a lot in the news, TV and social networks, at the time I wrote this track, and because this is the police that until today defends the bourgeois order while criminalizing and executing the poor, in their mostly young blacks. This international relationship appears later, in the last song of the album that entitles it, when I relate the struggle of different parts of the world and their diverse experiences, all from a socialist perspective, for a better world. In 'Sudaméfrica' you hear me saying: 'We will persist in being who we are for so long, and in reinventing what it is to be.' And it's about our ancestral relationship with this territory, our ancestors, our food, our culture as a whole. But a culture that knows how to incorporate elements from other cultures in its exchanges and interactions, and can even change, but without ceasing to be itself."


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When asked about what other bands in Brazil No Echo readers should be checking out right now, Guilherme shares this: "Besides our other projects Langor (black metal), Violentact (death metal), Liträo (sludge metal), Carne Espectro (grindcore) Morri (crust punk), and Desdito (post-hardcore), there are awesome active bands over here like Institution (metallic hardcore), Sangue de Bode (blackened hardcore), Bayside Kings (hardcore), Lasso (hardcore punk), Budang (hardcore punk), Cäbränegrä (powerviolence/grind), Mee (metallic hardcore), and Vazio (black metal)."

Sudam​é​frica is available now on Bandcamp. Hit this link to see all of the band's streaming options.


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