Sudamérica Brutal VI: Ramon Restrepo – Blasfemia Style!
THE TALE of Ramon Restrepo, ex-vocalist of BLASFEMIA and PARABELLUM, is yet another insane chapter in the history of “Metal Medallo”. Having reincarnated his musical persona with new band “Ramon”, this small, moustachioed demon is probably the biggest personality in Medellin. He was and still is, a terrifying screamer – but the man who scared the shit out of Parabellum in ’87 has another side to him – he’s a Shaolin master…(?)
Not to worry – There are no spin-kicks at his gigs – just classics from the two main bands and other insane new material. But enough of the present, let’s confront the past by gatecrashing Ramon’s first audition. In 1987, Colombian metal pioneers PARABELLUM went by the name of JUANA LA LOCA. Formed by guitarist Carlos Mario “La Bruja” Calderon and drummer Cipriano “Cipri” Alvarez in the neighbourhood (barrio) of Buenos Aires, “Juana” had found their feet in terms of sound and already had material written – all they needed was a vocalist… so they held a mass audition.
No surprises, the duo provided a fisher-price baby mic for the session – and there was plenty of comedy, but they were in for a surprise when Ramon walked through the door. He was prepared, and had his own vocal style developed to tie in with the name of the band (a Spanish queen who couldn’t part with her husband’s corpse). Throwing the mic to the floor, he began to howl to the songs like a witch. Suffice to say, there were no further questions.
Cipriano had already come up with a concept and discovered the word ‘Parabellum’ (prepare for war) in his studies of Latin and Ramon completed the lineup by bringing his friend Jhon Jairo Gutierrez into the fold. The band went to a studio called Discos Fuentes to record their first EP “Sacrilegio”, where things began to take a supernatural turn. During the sessions, their engineer, a laid-back Afro-Colombian (name unknown) joked about making the session a ‘ritual’ and sure enough, all hell broke loose.
The head of the record player broke during a test-play, lights began to flicker, microphones died, items began to appear in strange places, there were anomalies in the mix and people claimed the area was ‘irregular’. Superstition raging, the owner held a mass to cleanse the studio. When the album was pressed at Discos Victoria, the plant engineer lost a parent, and the company called Ramon. “Collect your records immediately,” they said, and left them outside in the street. To complete “Sacrilegio”, Cipriano desecrated an image of Medellin’s own Virgen de Carmen, which became the cover art.
Ramon would leave Parabellum in 1988 over conflict with La Bruja and Cipri, taking guitarist Jhon Jairo with him. In an act of fleeting spite, he formed “BLASFEMIA,” a name designed to mock the gravitas of his former band. On the cover of their first and only EP, “Guerra Total” the image of the jester represents Ramon, who is laughing at his own execution.
When we met him, Ramon Restrepo was every bit the legend he was made out to be.