Not many people would relate Venezuela with rock music but there has been a phenomenon called National Rock for some twenty years or more – a movement founded by Paul Gillman in Valencia (Carabobo State) of the Paul Gillman Band and formerly member of a band called Arkangel.
News broke on May 26th that Gillman had been voted Best Male Metal Voice of All Time in a world MTV poll which ended a few days ago. This is the ultimate recognition Gillman has always deserved after more than 30 years dedicated to his musical craft.
Born in 1960 Gillman has been around the rock scene in Venezuela and Latin America for 34 years and is well known in the Spanish speaking rock world across the continent – especially in countries where rock music has taken a firm root such as Argentina. Gillman´s vocal style was and is still influenced by Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden which is apparent to anyone listening to his soaring vocals backed up by solid guitars, bass a and drums.
Gillman has been the main bearer of Venezuela’s National Rock movement since the 1980’s as he always maintained that Venezuelan bands should not imitate their Anglo Saxon counterparts but strive to establish their own style and content within a Latin American heavy metal context. Gillman’s most successful effort in reaching this goal appeared more than twenty years after he first appeared on the rock scene with an album recorded in honor of Venezuela’s greatest and much beloved revolutionary singer- songwriter, Ali Primera.
With the backing of the Ministry of Communication & Information Gillman recorded several of Ali Primera’s most famous and revolutionary songs but rearranged in heavy metal style which give full range to his tremendous vocal capabilities.
As a committed supporter of President Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution, Gillman found a musical and lyrical context in which he could fully express his art in a revolutionary way in the knowledge that the CD of Ali Primera’s songs, entitled “Waking up in History” would be distributed nationwide, free of charge, with no copyright restrictions in truly socialist and nonprofit way. It was a way of revolutionizing the Bolivarian revolution into rock and attract more of Venezuela’s youth to appreciate the fact that rock music was a force backing the revolution itself. Introducing his interview with the Gillman, Bernardo Loyola, Senior Editor for VBStv writes on Vice Beta:
Paul Gillman is without a doubt the most famous hesher in Venezuela and an institution in the Latin American heavy-metal scene. Like any other teenager who grew up in the 1970s, he was inspired by the music of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Alice Cooper. While Menudo was sashaying around in leather vests and selling out stadiums all over Latin America with the full support of the media and corporate sponsors, Gillman’s band Arkangel was shredding apart independent venues, singing politically charged songs (“Latin American Repression,” “Unemployed,” “The Maggots of Power”) denouncing the corrupt governments that ruled Venezuela.
But when Venezuela’s leftist president, Hugo Chávez, took power in 1999, Paul, once the scourge of the political establishment, became one of its most vocal defenders. For a few years he even changed the name of his act to “Paul Gillman and His Bolivarian Band,” a nod to Chavez’s “Bolivarian revolution.”
Axis of Logic can only congratulate Paul Gillman and the people who dig his music enough to vote for him in the MTV World Poll.
So that readers can appreciate Gillman´s music and voice we are publishing a couple of his songs and a video.
The first one is “No Basta Rezar” (Praying is not enough) an original from the late 1970’s by Ali Primera but rearranged by Gillman and his band into true heavy rock style.
Here is Gillman’s latest recording called “Batalla de Carabobo” (The Battle of Carabobo) which was the final battle of the war of independence in June 1821 that liberated Venezuela from Spanish colonialism. Carabobo is also the name given to President Chávez’s Electoral Command Organization for his reelection on October 7th this year. Gillman recorded this song as part of his commitment to The Revolution currently underway in Venezuela.
Finally and for all you heavy metal head bangers out there here is a ten minute clip of a “Gillmanfest” held in Maracay (Aragua State) in August 2010. This one is entitled “Get up and fight!”. It is all action and is a call to youth to defend the Revolution – should anything “go wrong”!! Gillman sings the Venezuelan National Anthem towards the end of the concert with the audience in counterpoint. It’s all about Bolivarian Venezuela, Revolution, Youth and Anti-Imperialism….what a privilege to live in these extraordinary times!