Formed nineteen years ago in their native Dominican Republic, La Armada is an acerbic hardcore quintet who gleefully smash together punk and metal while underpinning their sound with Afro-Caribbean influences. After kickstarting the hardcore scene in the DR, the band moved to the US – first Florida, and then Chicago – and recently debuted their new vocalist Casper Torres – featured on the recent Songs of the Exiled I: Chicago – all the while continuing to perfect their heinously sharp sound.

Self-ascribed as anti-fascist and focused on decolonization – traditional punk rock ethics – La Armada also refers to themselves as a ‘crossover band’; the punk and metal are always intertwined, however subtly, with their Caribbean influence. Now, in this global Top 10 feature, Casper, Paul, Luis, Mani, and Jonathan join us to highlight the Caribbean music that has influenced their sound. It’s not always at the surface of their music, but La Armada is undoubtedly indebted to their origins.

10. Orquesta Zodiac – “Panteón de Amor”

“Fat salsa. With the perfect hiss of an OG recording. Amazing musical composition. I can’t replicate this level of storytelling and darkness, but it’s what I strive for when picking up the pen. A constant reference.” – Casper

9. Silvio Rodriguez – “Cancion de Harapos”

“I love the dramatic way this song builds and releases tension. It’s always a reference when we write, how to match the way Silvio creates different moments of compression and relief throughout a song.” – Luis

8. Rita Indiana – “La Hora de Volve”

Rita Indiana put neo-Dominican fusion music on the map in the early 2010s. I think more than musically, she influenced us as far as paving the way. She blew up as a singer and an author, demonstrating that there’s a way to expand your reach while staying true to your art.” – Paul

7. – Enerolisa y Sus Salves

Enerolisa is a living legend, she performs a mix of afro-aboriginal chants from the Dominican with a live percussion band. There’s a lot to draw from the raw performances, a couple of us caught her live in 2016 and it shaped elements that we eventually added to our live show including sampling the ‘tambora’ patterns, the typical drum used in these circles.” – Mani

6.  Teodoro Reyes – “Morire Bebiendo”

“Great example of bachata guitars creating and adding tons of dynamics to a song. It was always funny how the chorus effect is linked to New Wave music in rock and pop. For us, we always associated it with bachata because of songs like this. Not surprising that in any La Armada clean guitar parts, you’ll likely hear that chorus effect on.” – Jonathan

5. Zafiro Gitano – “El Cantante del Amor”

“A legendary merengue artist who reached peak popularity in the ’80s, he disappeared in the streets of New York due to drug addiction in the ’90s, then re-emerged in the 2010s. This song has a lot of the ‘stop-and-go’ that we use in many of our songs. We actually lifted one of those specific stops for a song on our self-titled album, a jam called ‘Cuando la dignidad se mendiga.’” – Paul

4. Un Final Fatal – “Nube Blanca”

“Puerto Rican punk at its finest. I’ve done a lot of tours, and nobody sounds like Un Final Fatal. Drugs, existential arguments, and that goddamn chorus pedal. I hate that thing. They make it sound awesome. They were around before us and were always a motivating factor. We learned a lot about DIY ethics and what was possible to do on your own, as a band, via their example.” – Casper

3. Johnny Ventura – “Mama Tingo”

“I appreciate the power of the lyrics within the historical context in which this was written. From the beginning, it grabs and demands attention. Specifically, this song is about Mama Tingo, who in many ways represents the resistance of the rural people of the Dominican, a theme we constantly explore.” – Luis

2. “Mambo Ali Baba”

“This is a fun and highly energetic ensemble piece that gets played at all kinds of gatherings in the DR, especially during Carnaval. We’ve used it as an intro to our live show and it really gets the crowd pumped and curious about what the fuck is about to happen. It usually results in a lot of messages the next day, with people wanting to know what the intro was.” – Mani

1. Anthony Santos – “Cojelo Ahi”

“Bachata differs greatly from Salsa and Merengue because the guitar plays a major role here. It’s a mixture of playing it percussively and creating melodies using arpeggiated chords, it’s often played with a thumb pick too. We’ve always wanted to incorporate this style into a song or two but it wasn’t until we recently recorded ‘Plagued’ that we were successfully able to. You can hear it throughout the verses.” – Jonathan

Artwork for ‘Songs of the Exiled I’ by La Armada