The Puerto Rican band Puya plays a blend of metallic salsa and powerhouse rock so good it doesn't matter what language it's in. The group fuses Spanglish rap vocals with sexy island rhythms, luring a large crossover audience of metalheads and Latin music fans. Now the band is at the top of its game, breaking sales records and blasting onto the Billboard Latin 50 chart with its latest offering, Union. Lucky for us the group's 30-city North American tour (with Fear Factory) lands at Maritime Hall this week.
Road monsters since signing with MCA in 1998, the San Juan-based quartet tours constantly, taking its headbanging show on the road with noteworthy appearances at the Ozzfest, Sno Core, and Watcha tours. But the live shows aren't the only draw: Puya's albums feature such drum masters as Cachete Maldonado and Anthony Carrillo alongside crash metal specialists like guitarist John Dones. With that kind of talent on board it's no wonder the band's 1999 debut, Fundamental, sold more than 150,000 copies in the U.S. and won Billboard's Rock/Fusion Album of the Year award.
On Union, Puya displays a musical maturity, thanks to the combined efforts of Eduardo Paniagua (drums), Ramon Ortiz (guitar), and Harold Hopkins (bass) pushing lead singer Sergio Curbuelo to energetic heights. Lyrics peppered with Puerto Rican slang and colloquial expressions add a political theme to this album that was lacking on previous efforts. This new awareness is exemplified on the track "Pa 'ti Pa 'mi," a rocker about the U.S. naval presence on the island of Vieques.
Just as non-Hispanics are getting curious about Latino alternative sounds, Puya is outgrowing its rock en español label, branching out into new markets and new sounds. The group has scored significant airplay on commercial rock stations across the country as it works to break down borders between musical genres. Although Puya is an opening act today, it's reaching new hombres at unprecedented speeds. Catch this band before it gets away.