Recently discovered Albian submarine diatremes sample tectonites from the Basque-Cantabrian Basin concealed basement. Garnet-sillimanite gneiss xenoliths provide petrologic, petrofabric, and radiometric evidence on a so-far unidentified early Permian (ca. 280–275 Ma) high-grade regional metamorphism. It is interpreted as a syntectonic event recorded at middle to lower crustal settings and related to the Variscan orogeny. This metamorphism is 25–30 m.y. younger than the Variscan high-grade regional metamorphism preserved in the axial zone of the Pyrenees and 15–30 m.y. younger than low-pressure plutonometamorphism documented in the core of the Ibero-Armorican arc. By contrast, it is 15–20 m.y. older than Variscan regional and contact metamorphism unraveled in basement outcrops around the Basque-Cantabrian Basin; it can be thoroughly discriminated from Proterozoic high-grade metamorphism preserved in lower crustal segments of the submerged north Iberian continental margin, and from low-pressure metamorphism related to mid-Cretaceous hyperextension predating the Alpine orogeny. The early Permian metamorphism reveals protracted and diachronic Variscan tectonomagmatic activity in the core of the Ibero-Armorican arc due to orocline buckling processes triggering lithosphere delamination, asthenosphere upwelling, and eventually heat and mass transfer through the continental crust.