- Ankla (Ortiz)
Puya first made a name for themselves in Florida, where a lot of the other jazz-metal bands like Atheist and Cynic popped up. Puya differentiated themselves from the other jazz-metal acts (who were typically Technical Death Metal bands) by:
1. Drawing from more palpitatable, accessible, less extreme metal genres (their sound has incorporated elements of Thrash Metal and Groove Metal) and prominently using elements of Latin Jazz and Salsa, either predominately, or fused with metal.
2. Shifting into other styles. Their songs have had occasional rapped vocals, the band has dabbled in Funk Metal and a lot of their songs are straight up in Latin styles like Latin Jazz, Salsa, Cuban rumba, bomba, and so forth (at least one track, "Semilla", is a Progressive Rock instrumental).
Though before they were a metal band with vocals, they started off as a instrumental Prog Rock combo named Whisker Biscuit influenced by bands like Rush. With their shift to a Metal/Salsa/Jazz band, however, Puya added a backup horn section and percussionists, giving their live shows a large cast of musicians rivaling Trans-Siberian Orchestra, although, officially, the band only has three musicians and a singer. Vocalist Sergio Curbelo performed on Puya's 1995 album, but was not officially a member of the band until 1996, thusly the "band" from 1991 until 1995 only consisted of two members—guitarist Ramon Ortiz and composer/bassist Harold Hopkins Miranda, the band's founder and leader.
Their first, self-titled album was released independently in 1995 by the Miami, Florida indie record label Noiz Boiz Records, and then they had a couple of albums on the major label MCA before being dropped due to lackadaisical sales; despite tours with mainstream metal bands, Puya failed to attract much interest due to their jazz fusion style not being widely received by metal fans and initial mixed to negative critical reviews and then broke up for several years. During that time, Puya went on to become very well noted and respected by Progressive Metal musicians, and had some influence on jazz-metal fusions. So, in 2010, they reunited releasing a new EP with some new songs and an outtake from their third album, and successfully crowdfunded a live album in 2014. They haven't put out any new releases since then, but have been actively touring.
Puya's live shows are noted for extended improvisation and jamming, and live performances usually feature extended percussion sections and instrumentation compared to the studio releases.
Ramon Ortiz has released several solo albums, described musically as being a cross between Dream Theater and Ill Nino. Ortiz also fronts a band called Ankla, which plays a mixture of Thrash, Metalcore and Death Metal.
Band membersPuya has maintained the same line-up for over 20 years:
- Ramon Ortiz guitar
- Eduardo Paniagua drums
- Harold Hopkins Miranda bass
- Sergio Curbelo vocals
Their backup fluctuates, however, and the albums feature session musicians playing the horn and additional percussion instruments.
- Whisker Biscuit demo (1994) (has never been officially sold by the band; torrents of the demo often cut the last 30 seconds of the song "La Raza" for some reason. Recording and mixing quality is inconsistent, but it's a must-hear for fans of the band; a full version streams here.)
- Puya (1995) (first album, originally released only to Miami, but is now on digital services like iTunes and Amazon, but is also widely file shared and torrented; "Chisme" is a re-recording of a song from the Whisker Biscuit demo)
- Fundamental (1999) (first major label release; out of print, but can be purchased digitally)
- Union (2001) (last major label release; also out of print, but can be purchased digitally; the title track is a re-recording of a song from the 1995 album)
- Pa Ti En Vivo (2010, filmed in 2002), the band's live concert DVD , showcasing their live improvisation. Also features interviews with fans and Puerto-Rican locals, as well as the music video for "Pa Ti Pa Mí". Includes live performances of songs from all of their albums and the Whisker Biscuit demo.
- Areyto (2010) (EP; every track is new, except for "Hecho El Resto" which is an outtake from Union)
- Vital (2014), the band's live album, was released as a result of a successful Kickstarter campaign. Showcases the band's live improvisation.
- Avant-Garde Metal: Numerous songs shift from genre to genre, typically from jazz, salsa, samba, rumba and bomba to some form of metal, or Hardcore Punk, and sometimes to Progressive Rock. The Jazz element ranges from Latin Jazz to American Jazz to Jazz Fusion.
- Cover Version: They did The Police's Spirits in the Material World as a Rock en espanol song for a Police tribute album and a Rap Metal version of RunD.M.C.'s It's Like That which was never released.
- Genre Roulette: The band shifts between various different styles of metal, jazz and Latin music, as well as Progressive Rock, in an attempt to bring together different communities of music lovers.
- Jazz - Puya is best described as a "Jazz Metal" band.
- Lead Bassist: Harold Hopkins Miranda is the band's founder and leader; he composes all of their music.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Tours live with a huge horn section and dozens of Latin percussionists. Session jazz musicians play these parts on their albums. Tito Puente was supposed to play guest percussion parts on the Union album but died before he could work with the band.
- Long-Runner Line-up: Not counting the horn and additional percussion back-up players, who are not officially considered part of the band and fluctuate, Puya has maintained the same lineup since 1996.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Various. E.g. "Bembele", which shifts from salsa to Thrash Metal to Progressive Rock, "Keep It Simple", which is a jazz fusion track mixing Latin jazz instrumentation (flutes, acoustic flamenco-style guitar and Latin percussion) with Hip-Hop-style beats, rap verses in English and a verse sung in Spanish, and "Ahorake", which in live concerts is accompanied by extended salsa jamming and onstage salsa dancing by salsa dancers.
- Subverted on Areyto, which mostly featured Prog Metal tracks, but even there, "La Muralla" was a song that started off as prog-metal and then threw in guest rap verses out of nowhere.
- Progressive Metal - what the band is more often called.
- Theme Song: "Oasis", Puya's tribute to Puerto Rico, typically ends the band's concerts, and is one of their most popular songs.