Deforestation rates in the Amazon have reached an all-time high since 2008, escalating by 9.5 percent alone, between August 2019 and July 2020, according to the Brazilian official annual deforestation monitoring system. This incessant destruction of the Amazonia habitat, threatening the livelihood of its people, wildlife, and nature was the impetus for Pentral’s debut album What Lies Ahead of Us, out May 7.
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A powerful look at the constant pilfering of the Amazon forests, the Brazilian prog rockers, made up of vocalist and guitarist Victor Lima, bassist Joe Ferri, and drummer Vagner Lima, hail from Northern Brazil and have seen its devastation first-hand.
“Unfortunately, this is happening all the time in our country and in many places across the globe,” shares Lima. “We are fortunate because we had opportunities in our lives, but many of our people didn’t have same shots and are being butchered as well as our plants and animals and the whole environment. Inhabitants of the forest are being hunted down. This is a reality that must be disclosed and fought.”
Recorded between September and October 2020 at NaCena Studio in Sao Paulo, Brazil, What Lies Ahead of Us was produced by Pentral, along with Tim Palmer (David Bowie’s Tin Machine, U2), and co-producers Sergio Fouad and Cesar Bottinha, and mixed by Justin Shturtz (The Psychedelic Furs, HIM, Slipnot), and unravels through a concept, a bigger picture told through the story of a couple and their child struggling to salvage their lives in the Amazon.
“The couple and their kid experience different feelings, like a representation of what is going on with our society right now, so there’s divinity, tension, fear, aggression, compassion, peace, [and] love, expressed musically,” shares Lima. “Faster, slower, acoustic and electric songs are linked in this journey of growing sense of fear, loss, and hope that happens in their lives and relates with the suffering people of the forest are going through in Brazil, and in the cities and forests all over the world, where there are so many people and living creatures who need and deserve to have their stories told.”
Nothing is glossed over, Pentral, which stands for “spirit” in Latin, present the reality of the Amazon, and its struggle to survive through. Pentral take the listener into the Amazon, its beauty, punctuated with atmospheric sounds of nature pulled directly from the rainforest, through all the harsher elements, unveiled through the heavier deliverance of 12 pulsating tracks.
Working with director Roger Elarrat and filmed in the Amazon, videos for “Aiming For The Sun”, and “Silent Trees”, featuring native actors Anne Costa, Guto Galvão, Eduarda Cursino, Boris Knez and Aldo Lima, each reveal another chapter in the couple’s narrative, and their struggles (violent land grabbers) in the region, while the band’s recent “All My Wounds” break to show the band in a more live setting.
What Lies Ahead of Us is a project that was years in the making, shares Lima. “Besides the need to express music, I was always eager to express ideas, things I truly believe people should care for,” says Lima, who reveals he didn’t have control over the writing process when it came to What Lies Ahead of Us.
“I personally think the songs aren’t actually mine,” he says. “They came through what I believe were messages, like if someone else was trying to pass to me a song to be listened with a purpose. The purpose is clear: talking about living creatures and their daily drama, human beings and the environment need to be heard.”
There’s hope that What Lies Ahead of Us will open more eyes to the pillaging of the Amazon, its impact on the earth and future generations. “What has been done with nature and to humanity itself over recent years is tragic,” says Lima. “No matter where you come from, you really notice that we have a society more prone to conflict, inequality, and injustice at all levels. It’s more and more common to find people showing uncalled for disrespect to others, and showing no concern at all about the wild destruction.”
Lima adds, “We’re going through a spiral of self-destruction. That’s why the title of the album tries to bring this seminal concern.”
For Lima, there is a deeper message in these lyrics, and Pentral’s music. “Listen to everything and everyone, not only actual music, but sounds, especially sounds from nature,” he says. “It can be a waterfall, a singing bird, the flow of the wind…Anything and anyone, no matter if it lives in this material world or not, can ‘talk’ with you. All you gotta do is listen.”