Somebody call Officer Reese’s because Massa Nera got their peanut butter in Quiet Fear’s chocolate and the result is so delicious it’s almost criminal.

Release date: January 12, 2024 | Persistent Vision Records | Massa Nera Links | Quiet Fear Links

Cuatro Vientos // Cinco Soles (Four Winds // Five Suns) is the latest project by two screamo bands Massa Nera from New Jersey and Quiet Fear from Los Angeles. Located on opposite ends of the United States they have gathered together for this record which showcases the product of their combined talents. Billed by their label as a collaborative split album, a true collaboration is exactly what this album is. Or as Persistent Vision put it: ‘Meant as a cohesive piece of art, Massa Nera and Quiet Fear worked to highlight rhythm and other non-traditional elements of hardcore without forgoing aggression. Together, the bands create a unique sonic world for Quatro Vientos // Cinco Soles in which the listener can become fully immersed.’

Splits have a deep history in punk/indie broadly and hardcore/screamo specifically. From 1982’s now classic Faith / Void split, to last year’s Joyce Manor / Tigers Jaw split. Descended from singles, splits fill a similar role by cheaply getting music into the hands of fans. The name split itself comes from the vinyl being literally split in half with one band on Side A and another on Side B. This goes back to when actual tape was the recording medium du jour which was an expensive and time limited commodity, roughly 15 minutes per tape. So by getting into the studio with another band they could save money by pressing a shorter 7” or 10” split compared to the often prohibitive cost for one band to put out a full 12” LP. Labels also use splits as an opportunity to promote their bands and increase exposure. However Cuatro Vientos // Cinco Soles is not just a split, it’s a synthesis. By the end of the album you literally can’t tell who is doing what anymore since the closing track is co-written and performed by both bands.

A good collaboration is like a stylistic tug of war. There’s a push and pull out of the artist’s perspective comfort zones to ideally end up somewhere they couldn’t have gotten on their own. To overgeneralize with Cuatro Vientos // Cinco Soles, Massa Nera are more focused and Quiet Fear are more adventurous. Before delving further into the treat this album is, let’s take a moment to look at the ingredients they’ve mixed together. For those that may not be familiar with one or both bands here’s a brief rundown on their most recent offerings.

Massa Nera’s last album was 2022’s epic Derramar | Querer | Borrar. Massa Nera pulled from a wide range of influences including post-rock, classical, hardcore, jazz, and even dance combined with 00’s era screamo to form a sound all their own. Clocking in at almost 50 minutes the album is truly massive. Not only in terms of its length, but also the impact it had by challenging genre norms and not being afraid to experiment. Drawing apt comparisons to City of Caterpillar and Gospel, Massa Nera are likewise here to take you on a sonic journey across musical and emotional landscapes as varied as their influences. For a closer look check out our review of Derramar | Querer | Borrar.

Quiet Fear‘s last album was 2021’s Hasta la Muerte si es Preciso (Until the Death if Necessary). Quiet Fear plays a loud and fast style of screamo infused hardcore punk. Their fervent vocal delivery backed by a punishing instrumental attack has the extremity of emoviolence with the heavy heart of post-hardcore. The urgency of the album doesn’t simply grab your attention, it demands it. Forcing the listener to confront some uncomfortable realities of modern life that too often go ignored. Hasta la Muerte si es Preciso is an aggressive hammer of an album that smashes walls and rages against injustice.

Massa Nera and Quiet Fear are linked by many things, not the least of which is the passion apparent in the energy they put into their music. The bands may be geographically separated by thousands of miles but several connective threads bind them closely together. They implore their listeners to reject the evils of capitalism while embracing the unity of community through shared humanity. They both fit comfortably under the wide umbrella of screamo, have strong Latin American roots performing songs in English and Spanish, and are very politically involved. Massa Nera and Quiet Fear are natural partners weaving an overlapping shared vision into something new.

“Bloated” starts off the record slowly with some feedback and a slow thunderous drone then a swift speed change gives a taste of more of what is to come throughout the record. Emotive chaotic blends of melodic moments sandwiched between violent anarchy. In other words screamo at its finest. Competition isn’t always a bad thing, friendly competition such as in the form of a collaborative effort sometimes brings out the best performances. Massa Nera have battened down the hatches. Absent are the seven minute intro and interlude of Derramar | Querer | Borrar. Their effort here is concentrated while maintaining their signature quiet/loud post-rock influenced sound. If Massa Nera were wandering a bit by taking the scenic route on Derramar | Querer | Borrar their tracks on Cuatro Vientos // Cinco Soles seem to know exactly where they’re going. Quiet Fear preserves their intensity while expanding their sound such as the wild tempo changes and sweet drum breakdown on “N.U.M.”. The death growls Quiet Fear employs throughout this album further vary the intense yelled vocals they are known for.

Massa Nera’s “I Point to the River” with its dynamic multi vocalist harmony is one of their strongest songs to date.

‘You led me through the deathless night
Like a flower bending towards the light
Without pity (no pity) or fear (no fear)
Despite my worry that the end is here
In your eyes I found a hint of resolve
The future beats within the people we love
So breathe in and let the body fall
Breathe in and let the body fall!’

Quiet Fear’s standout song on the album “Presidio” with its repeatedly chanted ending, ‘I am a fortress / You will not siege me / I will not be torn down’’ calls to mind their song “Nailed” off of Hasta la Muerte si es Preciso. It almost seems like it was a deliberate choice for the album to keep getting better and better as it progresses, finally culminating in the build up to a marvelous crescendo on “Nueva Llama”.

Cuatro Vientos // Cinco Soles is an incredibly tight record. Not a single moment feels wasted from the feedback laden intro that draws the listener in, to the chaotic anarchy that closes the record out. While Cuatro Vientos // Cinco Soles excels in its extremity there are quiet and melodic sections of the album as well that are made all the more impactful for the pervasive brutality that surrounds them. The whole album has a fierce clarity of purpose crafted deftly by many hands. The fact that two stylistically distinct bands can both be called screamo and join together to produce yet a third unique sound with this album encapsulates everything that makes screamo the wonderfully diverse and rewarding genre that it is.

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