I took four years of German in high school, thinking it would be more fun than taking Spanish. In my defense, the Spanish teachers at my school were militant, and the lone German instructor was lighthearted and less demanding.
But, boy, bands like Samán really make me wish I could go back in time. Because even though I occasionally come across Spanish billboards I’m unable to read in Pittsburgh, and even though I occasionally bump into Spanish-first speakers in my hometown of Lancaster, it’s the booming South American Stoner Rock bands like Samán that really make me wish I understood Spanish.
Fortunately, music is a universal language, and I understand this much: Samán is a powerhouse. On their second album, II. Montanña Roja, the band lays down some massive riffs, and their multi-layered songs are entire experiences.
To be perfectly clear: This is one of the strongest Stoner Rock albums of 2022.
Samán is a South American Stoner Rock band from Bogotá, Colombia. The band is:
- Iván Rodríguez: Vocals, guitar, keyboards.
- Santiago Mora: Guitar
- José González: Bass
- Ricardo Silva: Drums
For II. Montanña Roja, all music was written by Samán with collaboration from Juan Felipe Acuña.
Lyrics on two songs were borrowed from other sources: “Tierra muerta” contains lyrics taken from “El ápice” by Jorge Luis Borges, and “Cumbre” contains lines pulled from “El muerto alegre” and “Spleen,” both by Charles Baudelaire.
II. Montanña Roja was recorded and mixed by Juan Felipe Acuña at Nativo Estudio. It was mastered by Derek “Doom Daddy” Mattin. The album art was pulled from “Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion” and “The Plains of Heaven,” both by John Martin. The design was by Iván Rodríguez.
II. Montaña Roja Album Review
Release Date: July 8, 2022
1. Montaña roja (Pt. 1)
With “Montaña roja (Pt. 1),” the album opens with rain and far-off vocals before a massive, cosmic bassline fills the void. Gradually, the rest of the band appears in a slow, spiritual build. And once that build is complete, we’re treated to big guitars, big drums, and big, Psychedelic solos.
2. El sueño
“El sueño” takes its time establishing itself. With a title that translates to “The Dream,” this track feels like a foggy, ethereal landscape in its intro. And when the entire band finally arrives, it’s in a giant wave, with intense, guttural vocals and towering guitars delivered in tight, crunchy riffs reminiscent of Tool.
3. Camino a la piedra
Listen closely to the intro to “Camino a la piedra,” and you’ll hear footsteps through the forest—appropriate when you consider the song name translates to “Path to the Stone.” “Camino a la piedra” creates a dreadful soundscape, but its dramatic nature will keep you enthralled.
“Alba” is beautiful and ethereal (“Alba” means “Sunrise”), and it’s the softest and lightest song on the album. And by the time we reach its touching and acoustic conclusion, you might think of the outros to Truckfighters songs “Mastodont” and “Majestic.”
5. En el siguiente valle
“En el siguiente valle” (“In the Next Valley”) rides a thumping bass, shimmering guitars, and pained vocals into a roaring attack that calls to mind the full-frontal assault of Skraeckoedlan—but backed here by cosmic guitar solos. This is a song packed with urgent emotion (regardless of whether or not I can understand the lyrics).
6. A las puertas
There’s a certain urgency to “A las puertas” that makes it feel much shorter than its 7:28 runtime. With its Stoned Jesus-style riffs and vocals that strike the earth like a hammer, “A las puertas” is a powerful and intricate track made even more impressive by its outstanding guitar solos.
7. Tierra muerta
“Tierra muerta” is likely the heaviest track on the album, and it relies on a big, dramatic, and old-school Doom-inspired riff to propel itself forward. Moving like a combination of The Obsessed and ASG, “Tierra muerta” is a great song for headbanging.
The longest song on the album (it runs nearly 10 minutes), “Cumbre” is also the most experimental. This is one sonic journey worth sticking around for!
9. Montaña roja (Pt. 2)
Part two of “Montaña roja” offers the same theme as the opening track, but here it’s dreamier and more mysterious. Eventually, the full band arrives and adopts a more Psychedelic approach, landing somewhere between Colour Haze and Black Mountain. Overall, this is a beautifully moving conclusion to an outstanding album.
Final Score: 10/10
Standout Tracks: “Montaña roja (Pt. 1),” “Alba,” “En el siguiente valle,” “Tierra muerta”
Pros: At the top of this article, we mentioned a few of Samán’s biggest influences: Stoned Jesus, Elder, Color Haze, and Tool. Later on, we compared them to Skraeckoedlan.
That’s good company to be in.
Trying to write something as complex as Tool’s Lateralus or as monolithic as Elder’s Reflections of a Floating World would be a fool’s errand for many, but Samán handles the responsibility with grace.
II. Montaña Roja is a frontrunner for album of the year. Anything less is a disservice to the entire Stoner Rock community.
Cons: This album may take multiple listens to fully appreciate. Like many of Samán’s inspirations (Stoned Jesus, Elder, Color Haze, Tool), the band has focused on writing an album instead of standalone singles.
The result, then, is a net positive: II. Montaña Roja is an outstanding overall experience, as every song is as strong as the previous track.