Víctor Raúl Jaramillo, aka “Piolin” is something of a legend in these parts. Not just the vocalist of Medellin’s legendary REENCARNACIÓN, he’s a poet, a mystic, a doctor of philosophy and probably the country’s most outspoken anti-Catholic. Funny that he lives right next to a church.
As we set foot in the barrio of Santa Lucia on a Thursday afternoon, we fell under the gaze of an ominous blue virgin: one of the city’s many religious statues. In our company was Román Gonzalez, creator of the band’s Spanish-language “888 Metal” documentary and something of an expert on Reencarnación. He told us we’d remember the meeting for the rest of our lives.
He was right. All of a sudden it was as if we’d crossed into another world: a world where ideas were power, and music became their physical conduit. Like a gaunt, grey-bearded apparition in a tattered leather jacket, Piolin greeted us at the door, clearly as nervous to meet us as we were him. From a small chair flanked by hanging plants, he told us about the troubled ’80s and ’90s, tales of how the local police had caught wind of his music and threatened him with death, how the number “888” had followed him through his life, and how he’d gone from headbanger to scholar.
Most spectacular was the tale of how the Catholic Church made REENCARNACIÓN popular. During the ’80s and ’90s, the church had a great deal of influence on schools and education, and having observed rise of heavy metal, published a book titled “El Rock Mensaje Satanico” (The Satanic Message of Rock). Bearing an image of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark At The Moon” on the cover, the book named REENCARNACIÓN‘s self-titled debut as one of its particular concerns – As teachers read the book aloud in class, they unwittingly created a brand new audience for the band. Last but not least: We discovered that the witch on the cover of “Reencarnación” (1988) was (crudely) lifted from a Batman & Robin comic in the ’80s.
To finish off our meeting, Piolin read us a passage from the works of his favourite philosopher – Friedrich Nietszche. (Who would have guessed!??)