If you’ve been around the Christian punk/metal/hardcore/indie scene for any amount of time, you will likely have heard the name Burrito. Not his real name, of course–the man David Villalpando was a legend in the underground scene. Sadly, the man that many called a friend passed away this week from covid-related illness. For those who didn’t know him, it is difficult to overstate his impact on the scene.
From a musical standpoint, while none of his projects ever achieved mainstream success or financial prosperity, they were always on the bleeding edge of innovation. To my knowledge, his first band was Moral Majority, a hardcore punk outfit dating back to the early 80s–yes, a few years ahead of The Crucified, scaterd-few, or even The Lead. That band also included future-Israelites founder Rich Carlstedt. The band only recorded some demos, which are nearly impossible to track down. Fortunately, Roxx Records included a bonus CDr of a live recording on 2020’s re-issue of all three demos from the Warning entitled Trilogy of Damnation, (first time on CD).
Speaking of The Warning, they were Burrito’s second band, and the first of any notoriety, active in the late 80s. Continuing the hardcore punk theme begun with Moral Majority, The Warning added touches of heavy metal and thrash to their sound, and pushed lyrical confrontation to yet unseen limits. Strangely for a hardcore punk band, lyrically they were unabashedly politically and theologically conservative, frequently writing about issues like abortion, sexual purity, the rapture, divine judgment, and the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ.
This trend continued with a third band, Eightball Cholos, which also featured guitarist Tracy G, known for his work with Ronnie James Dio. To this day, I have no idea how the partnership came about. It’s no surprise that this project leaned much more heavy metal than previous projects. The band only release one album, the provocatively titled Satan’s Whore before calling it quits.
If participation in 3 innovative bands sounds like enough, it wasn’t enough for Burrito. When friend and fellow Virginian Mark Miller (vocalist) was putting together a new hardcore band–44evergiven (forgiven forever, get it?), he asked Burrito to help him find a bassist through his connections to the scene. Instead of phoning one of his numerous contacts, Burrito simply went out and bought a bass guitar and joined the band. The 90s style hardcore band eventually morphed into the more metallic (but still hardcore) version of the band and warranted a new name–Grace for the Fallen. 44evergiven released one independent CD and an EP, and GFTF released one full-length through Richmond’s own Blood & Ink Records. Still not content to rest on his laurels, Burrito played with at least one more Virginia metalcore act, Suffer Hereafter.
I only had the pleasure of meeting David once. It was at a Blood & Ink mini-festival in Richmond in 2006. A few years later we connected on social media, and while I was (and still am) more or less a nobody, he remembered the meeting. What’s crazy about David (or Burrito as most people knew him) was just how widespread his personal and pastoral impact was. A quick browse of his Facebook page, within hours of his passing saw tributes from hundreds of people–and the number of A-listers from the Christian scene is staggering. Members of The Blamed, Klank, Vision of God Records, The Israelites, Focused, Blood & Ink Records, Stryper, Crushing the Deceiver, Havalina Rail Co, The Lead, Living Sacrifice, and scores of others all stopped in to pay their respects.
David and I didn’t always see eye to eye on everything, but everyone who knew him will agree on his kindness, his love for the Lord, and his heart for the lost. RIP Burrito.