By October 19, 2019 Read More →

MetalView: Aquanana

MetalView: Aquanana Erupts onto the Valley Metal Scene

By Jason Ortega 

After a seven year hiatus of hardcore rockin’, local valley rock veteran and former Shambulls frontman Ernie Mancuso returns to the scene with new music as lead vocalist for Aquanana.

Vince Castillo, Brad Souza, and Ernie Mancuso of Aquanana

Aquanana includes Lorenzo Pino (lead guitar),Vince Castillo (rhythm guitar), Brad Souza (drums), and Scott Graham (bass).

According to Mancuso, Aquanana is primarily a doom metal band.

Doom metal is a style of heavy metal music that uses slower tempos, low-tuned instruments and a much “thicker” or “heavier” sound compared to other heavy metal styles. The music and the lyrics are meant to evoke a sense of desperation, terror and impending doom. Still, there are many subgenres within doom metal. 

Aquanana is a fusion of epic doom, progressive doom, and stoner doom. Think of clear vocals, complex-unorthodox rhythms within the doom metal structure, and a splatter of psychedelic-acid rock elements all brewed together in loud drums, amped guitars and deep bass riffs. The mash result is Aquanana.

All five put in work to create their upcoming album, Falling Valley, which will be released in early 2020. Mancuso initiated the album concept while Souza applied the nuts and bolts of the production and sound engineering according to Mancuso’s vision.

Mancuso described the album.

“It’s a dirty, grimy, raw, real sonic experience. It’s a rural farming community sound. We were all poor kids trying to find a way out of boredom and isolation. Music was that key to the door of new artistic opportunities. It’s the state of the nation and the state of decline in the valley hence Falling Valley. But, it’s also a sound of hope and love, self-reflection and bringing a balance to one’s life that suffered major childhood traumas. It’s a sound of growth and renewal of peace in one’s soul, but it’s also the underbelly of when a cop has a gun to the back of your neck and you got two ounces of meth and two illegal guns in your car: the valley sound,” exclaimed Mancuso.

The six-string bass helps to give Aquanana their distinct sound.

“The six-string bass is mostly for chording and harmonics to get a lil’ higher end pitch and ring in to support the guitarists.  There are not many heavy metal players that will chord support a guitar in certain times. It’s an approach and it seems to work with the guys,” explained Graham.

Aquanana’s debut video, “The Blackest Blood,” is scheduled to air on Halloween  via social media. The link to the video: The Blackest Blood

The video is “a struggle with addictions of sorts, whether it’s a girl [love] or a drug. Everybody has a vice. It’s basically an analogy of anything that affects a person, the inner demons that everybody has and an outlet to that,” described Souza.

In the video, a witch acts as a catalyst to further the vices of her victims. She manipulates them to go full speed in their indulgences; the results are not pretty.

Fortunately, Aquanana has prepared more videos to compliment the upcoming holidays. Each song is appropriately themed for each particular celebration in doom metal style.

On Thanksgiving, a day on which turkeys often met their demise at the end of a rifle, the song “In The Cross Hairs of The Hunter/The Predator Remains Unseen” will be released as a tribute to the “Predator” sci/fi movie series.

“This video will punch your face off,” remarked Castillo. “It will be the essence of raw, a song to head bang to-pure adrenaline.  It’s definitely a fan video.”

 Finally, Aquanana tentatively plans to unveil a third video aptly named “Pressure” during the Christmas season; a fitting title for the most stressful month of the year.

Prior to Aquanana, Mancuso was lead singer for The Shambulls. The band was a popular act during their heyday which spanned a lengthy period of performing  metal and hardcore rock for Modesto/Stockton audiences. The band began in 1996 and officially ended in 2012.

Art never escaped him during the break. He moved to San Francisco, spent most of his time surfing and painting, but eventually returned to the valley because he felt a need to re-connect.

“Six years of surfing and doing artwork in San Francisco, I always felt like there was something missing. I need a microphone. I need to write music,” said Mancuso.

Mancuso also credited Mike Klooster, a good friend and keyboardist for the band Smash Mouth, as being a motivator for his return.

Mancuso moved back and began a new venture with bandmates deeply rooted and experienced in the valley scene. Aquanana is a conglomeration of Shambulls, Scapegoat, Slumlord and Klockwerk band members.

Souza spent most of his teen years and 20’s in Modesto. He recalled how the Modesto rock scene had shaped and inspired his musical persona.

“Modesto had this place called Izzy’s Tex-Mex back in the 90’s, it was a restaurant that let bands play there and we used to go see Scapegoat among others,” said Souza.

Pino was once a member of Scapegoat.  He continues to draw upon local music.

“I live in Salida. I always dug the music scene and genres around the valley. I try to see shows in Modesto when I can,” responded Pino.

 The mid-90’s in Modesto and Stockton  were a special time for Souza and Mancuso as early developing bands such as Korn and the Deftones helped influence their paths into rock.

Mancuso became friends with members of these bands.

 “I was riding in a mini-van with Jonathan Davis (Korn) , Chino Moreno, and Stephen Carpenter (Deftones) while listening to Around The Fur on a tape cassette. They just got it done and got signed to a record label. That was an experience listening to them as they introduced an album that eventually went triple platinum,” recalled Mancuso. “I realized that them dudes were regular cats…if these guys can do it, then I’m gonna do it.”

Soon after, Mancuso started The Shambulls. In time, Souza would join as drummer for a short period around 2000.

Almost two decades later, both reunite as members of Aquanana.

Aquanana plans to perform live during the upcoming late-winter season.

Mancuso makes no bones of what to expect at their live performances. The show will surely transcend generations.

“If we are a dad band then I want to be the hardest hitting dad band that’s out there…I’m talking to the dude that’s my age, going through the same problems as me and there’s an audience and there’s a voice for that and I ain’t done talking yet…I want to destroy that perception of what a dad band is. But, if those 20-somethin’ year olds identify by what I say or relate on how their dads may have been as musicians, painters, or artists by witnessing  the whole struggle in their own lives then I’m not going to deny those people,” said Mancuso.

“Aquanana live should be a good sight to see for all metal, rock and just music in general. Have a good time watching some ‘old dads’ rock to some relevant sounds,” Pino stated.


Lorenzo Pino, lead guitarist of Aquanana

According to this reporter, expect to see an awesome upcoming video and a kick-ass live show to follow.

To view the video teaser of  “The Blackest Blood,” click on the link here: teaser

Official band page on Instagram: Aquanana

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