IGOR LUDWIG ICAZA ALBAN is a drunken dervish. As infamous outside of the Quito music scene as he is within, his vibrant tattooed form and glinting smile seem at odds with Quito, a town dubbed the ‘Cemetery City’ by the ZT crew.
As he stumbled through the rolling vistas of broken glass topped walls and razor wire, dilapidated houses and shrieking stray dogs – supported by our cameraman, his own legs rendered redundant by Norteno, the local poison of choice – the creative force of ENTE and SAL Y MILETO mumbled incohate remarks about the ‘pigs’ that had prevented him from finding another drink after 2 AM. Hurled into a taxi, the driver recognised him instantly: “Ahhhh Igor Icaza? Baterista de ENTE, si, a la casa”, and sped us directly to his front door. The next morning we found him on finer form, ready to titilate with tales from the extreme music scene in Ecuador since his teenage days, when his recent skullet was a mane, drinking in a public park for days on end.
On one occassion, when the sun brought him round, he told us he saw a congregation filing into church. Incensed, he vaulted over his comatose friends, rushed the doors, howling blasphemies as he went. The priest, aghast, cursed the banshee assaulting his flock, so Igor turned his attention to the effigies of Saints adorning the walls, tearing them from their pedestals and dashing them against the ground. The flock rose against this demon in their midst, chasing him from the church en-masse, and cornering him down the road. Kicks, punches, claws and slavering insults rained down until he heard one elderly woman calling for someone to find a gun, to righteously end the young blasphemer’s life.
“A policeman pulled me from the ground and took me to jail for 3 days, the jail was fucking hell, but at least I survived,” he said, recalling the event.
His friends, roused from their revelries by the sound of mob violence, met him at the prison. It was here, in the shadow of incarceration, that they resolved to form ENTE, Equador’s first true extreme death metal band. This was over 20 years ago. When probed further on his opinion of this saviour in uniform Igor merely scoffs: “If he had done what he wanted, he would have used his own gun…I can tell you a few stories about the Ecuadorian police.”
And that he did…
In 1993, at an illegally arranged gig for Mexican band CENOTAPH, the police revealed their true feelings towards metaleros. Breaking up the event, they waded into the crowd, brandishing batons and knives, seizing fans, dragging them to their knees, sawing off their hair and force-feeding it to them. The band had their passports seized and destroyed, forcing them to cancel the rest of the tour, and retreat homeward.
From there, breathlessly, he moved onto a more germain issue and a name that we had all heard banded around TV and radio news during our week in Quito: that of the brothers Restrepo…
In January of 1998 two brothers of Colombian decent were driving through the Ecuadorian countryside. The older, driving without a license – a common infringement in the wilder parts of South America – stopped when hailed by a police patrol. What happened next has been the subject of countless conflicting official statements and public speculation, not to mention a film made by the brothers’ sister, released in October 2011.
A close family friend of the Restrepos, Igor’s countenance takes on an ashen appearence as he recounts his involvement with the film: a ballad by SAL Y MILETO, his parallel project, concieved for, and dedicated to the brothers’ mother, that serves as the film’s closing score. Thanks to the pressure incurred by Fernanda Restrepo and her family’s campaign it has been conceded by the authorities that the two young men were tied, tortured and ‘disappeared’, ostensibly for nothing more than the transgression of having Colombian parents. The film’s title ”Con Me Corazon en Yambo” (With My Heart in Yambo) is reference to Yambo lake, a few hours drive from the heart of Quito and the perceived final resting place of the Restrepo brothers, though their bodies have never been found.
That this brutal admission has been made by the authorities is a certain sign of progress. That it needed to be made is a certain sign that the music of ENTE, a blistering brand of technical death metal, will continue to fire the passions and imaginations of a populace, just as it has for the past 20 years.
The ZT crew would like to thank Igor and his family for their hospitality and patience in putting up with us and our joint debaucheries, as well as this brief tutorial in Ecuadorian rhythms…