Cuenca heavy metal band Lizamett follows its passion, combining traditional and modern genres

Feb 13, 2024 | 0 comments

Official photo of Lizamett

By Stephen Vargha

Thia Megia, the Filipino-American singer and television actress, once said, “You’re never too young for something you really want to do, never too young to go after your passion. The age doesn’t matter at all. If it’s something you want to do, it depends on your will.”

Cuenca’s newest band, Lizamett, has taken that to heart. Its lead singer is 47 years old; the group’s female singer is 45 years old; its keyboardist is 42 years old, and the bass guitarist is one of the youngest at 40 years of age.

Guitarist Franx Bass rehearsing the group’s latest song.

Lizamett is a heavy metal band. Heavy metal is a subgenre of rock music defined by its use of volume, distortion, and aggressive attitude.

When the genre is talked about, groups such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe, AC/DC, and Metallica are always mentioned.

Heavy metal songs can be celebratory, reflective, and even inspirational. For many groups, there is often an element of aggression, dismay, and rebellion against societal norms in the lyrics.

“Our band experiments with progressions of neoclassical and symphonic,” said Mario “Musek” Morocho, the band’s keyboardist. “Our sound is combined with lyrics that deal with stories, tales and fables that lead you to consider the fantasy or reality of your existence and your passage through this wonderful journey called life.”

The band is still in its infancy as it was formed in August 2022. Morocho and vocalist Oscar Vélez had talked about it for years.

Guitarist Jaime Farfán, 33, is one of two young members of the band.

“I was looking for musicians for a band. Many are my friends,” said Morocho. “I called Oscar and proposed to have him as our lead singer.”

“I immediately said yes,” said Vélez.

The two had met ten years ago when their voices were used for an Iron Maiden song that their friend was recording in the studio of Cristian Flores Sarmiento.

After recording the song, Morocho and Vélez went back to their paying jobs.

Morocho, who has an undergraduate degree from the University of Cuenca in chemical engineering and a master’s degree in environmental science, carries out the environmental management for Cartopel, which produces corrugated cardboard packaging.

Vélez, who got a degree in environmental engineering from the University of Loja, is a greenhouse supervisor in Cuenca.

Oscar Vélez (left) belts out a song while guitarist Jaime Farfán (right) jams on his guitar.

When it was mentioned to the two of them that they are a lot like Brian May, the co-founder of the band Queen, they laughed with modesty. Besides having been the lead guitarist for Queen, May is an astrophysicist.

In mid-2022 Morocho approached bass guitarist Franx Mendez, 40, about the possibility of forming a band. He brought in guitarist Jaime Farfán, 33.

It was decided that a female voice was needed, so Alejandra Villota, 45, joined the band. Drummer Sebastian Rodas, 26, was the last person to join Lizamett.

The six-member band considers itself a family. That is how Lizamett got its name. Morocho named it in honor of his 10-year-old daughter.

“One day at my daughter’s school, I noticed a new classmate was asking what her name was. At first, he said her name, but ended up calling her another name,” said Morocho.

Lizamett rehearsing on a Friday night in Ricaurte, in the hills just outside of Cuenca.

The father was confused by what happened, so he asked his daughter why the boy had not used her real name. She replied that many can’t pronounce her name, so she tells them her name is Andrea.

“In that moment, I thought, children can be so cruel even though some adults can be very immature too,” said Morocho. “I take this opportunity to ask everyone to be more empathetic with people. I told my daughter that I will try to make her name known a little more and that’s why the band has the name Lizamett.”

Morocho started playing the piano when he was eight years old. After high school, he spent four years at the José María Rodríguez Conservatory.

“I played classical music. I love (Johann Sebastian) Bach. I love the baroque style,” said Morocho. “Classical metal rock is similar to baroque.  I have tried to incorporate baroque into our music.”

The group’s founder, Mario “Musek” Morocho (left), Alejandra Villota (center), and guitarist Franx Bass (right) rehearsing for their upcoming album.

Vélez started at an early age too.

“I began to sing in the church choir at the age of 14. I learned some techniques including breathing,” said Vélez. “I wanted to sing like the people I saw in concerts. The first time I heard Deep Purple, I said, ‘Wow!’ I want to sing like Ian Gillan.”

“Later, I listened to blues music. I like singing like Billy Holiday. And I love Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio,” said Vélez. “All of them are my inspiration. I achieved it by being in some small bands.”

Lizamett is nearing completion of their first album. They hope to have it completed by March as they are working on their seventh and final song for the album.

A name for it still has to be decided, though they have some names under consideration. And the artwork for it has not been worked out.

Keyboardist Mario “Musek” Morocho founded the heavy metal group Lizamett, which is named after his 10 year old daughter.

“It is something that we have not yet defined. It is difficult to see a cover,” said Morocho. “Seriously, it is super difficult to put a cover of many musical genres that we have experienced. Do you have any ideas?”

Their first song was “El Origen” (“The Origin”). The band described it as neoclassical metal and the “origin of our human history” and the origin of the band.

“We have tried to generate with this theme the desire to question,” said Morocho. “We hope to have achieved that goal with this song.”

Showing their love for various styles of music, their second song, “Uriel,” shows Lizamett’s talent.

“As a band we don’t want to stagnate in a single style. We want to be able to capture our influences,” said Morocho. “It has a different air. Even in the music video captures that constant exchange of words in our minds.”

Drummer Sebastian Rodas, 26, is the youngest member of the band.

Another song on the album focused on the struggles of Latin America.

“It is a story adapted from both our South American culture with a story of rebellion and love,” said Morocho. “It is the story by Gonzalo Guerrero, a Spaniard who adopted the Mayan culture.”

“Mi Tierra Arde” (“My Earth Burns”) is based on the story of someone who visited the city of Cuenca.

“Little by little the person is getting to know its streets in many ways, being caught by its beauty history and its culture,” said Morocho.

Recently, the band released the music video, “El Mundo Oculto” (“The Hidden World”). It uses Japanese anime of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels.

Oscar Vélez is very animated and passionate about his music.

“It’s a general narrative of the book of the Lord of the Rings,” said Morocho. “The song and video are told very much in our style.”

Heavy metal music is a little bit unusual for Ecuador. The number of bands per capita is behind Chile and Argentina but is ahead of most of Central America, according to Encyclopaedia Metallum.

“As I understand it, being more populated, Chile and Argentina have a greater audience for the nascent rock that occurred in the 70s,” said Vélez. “They also started before Ecuador.”

Lizamett is now getting recognition in the country and airtime in Cuenca. Earlier this month, León Gómez, in Quito did a podcast with Lizamett. In November, they were featured on “Sabados De Metal” podcast on Spotify.

Locally, Super 94.9 and Radio Visión are now playing their music.

Singer Alejandra Villota is the only female member of the band.

The band shared the stage with bands like Lucifer Hammers (Chile), Lancelot (Guayaquil), Uriel (Quito), and Oshiris (Biblián). They have performed at several venues, including the music festival in Cuenca for Alianza Française, and at Bibilakfest, an emblematic music festival in Biblián.

In May, they will be performing in Ambato, and the next month they will be in Loja.

It’s Morocho’s hope that this is just the beginning for Lizamett.

“For me, this is the last band I will do on stage. I don’t know how much longer the band lasts. Hopefully it lasts about 20 more years,” said Morocho. “That’s why I have put my heart into Lizamett.”

Lizamett, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100086781503988&mibextid=ZbWKwL
“El Origen”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyO7hg05gd8
“El Mundo Oculto”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKj2BQbba2I
“Extrañarte Siempre”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE-R2d1F3vw
“Guerrero Del Sur”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNr8I4QVhg8
“Mi Tierra Arde”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-0_LMEdHDU
“Uriel”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv7Ts6GNDwU 

Photos (except of the entire group) by Stephen Vargha

Stephen Vargha’s book about Cuenca, “Una Nueva Vida – A New Life” is available at Amazon in digital and paperback formats. His blog, “Becoming Cuenca,” supplements his book with the latest information and photos by him.

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