Nuclear Blast Records
Words by Greg Walker
At this juncture, extreme metal’s infamous supergroup Brujeria needs no introduction. If their style (for want of a better word) were to be summed up in a sentence I’d have to say they are metal’s unhinged version of Outlaw Country: masked Mexican banditos with a penchant for creating a soundtrack for the unforgiving cartel way of life. Dealing with subject matter such as drug smuggling, politics and immigration, hatred of law enforcement and associated corruption, anti-Christianity and Satanism, Brujeria have never shied away from the extremities of extreme metal, their debut album having featured a photo of a severed head that was long-rumoured to be real.
No matter if their masked band members courted day jobs with such notables as Napalm Death, Faith No More, Fear Factory, Carcass, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth, and Terrorizor among others, Brujeria has always pushed the confines of the genre in subject matter and imagery as well as musicality.
Esto Es Brujeria, released earlier this month, is as appropriate an example as any previous release of what Brujeria is capable of. Unrelenting brutality, ugly, fast, and filled with lyrics spat with contempt. There are no real subtleties, no intricacies, however there are moments of deceptive detail, the trick being to configure the structures to feel as straightforward a blow as possible. Broken up momentarily by nasty driving grooves, there really is something here for every extreme metal fan, to quote a cliché. The opening 1-2 salvo of Esto Es Brujeria and follow-up El Patrón Del Reventón absolutely ooze a striking Napalm Death influence, battering with little breathing space, the title track resplendent with trumpeting fanfare that is somehow not out of place. Single Bruja Encabronada features main vocals by La Bruja Encabronada (Jessica Pimentel) who delivers a nasty and unpleasant performance, rasping harsh scorn, perfect. An excellent little groove section mid-song breaks up the violence, but offering zero comfort from the musical deluge.
Tu Vida Loca packs an old-school punk feel, leading into a wicked pre-chorus punch coupled with a delicious driving hefty groove post-chorus. It’s a monster track and my favourite on the album, expertly crafted which is no surprise. Clearly designed for optimum live effect, Tu Vida Loca threatens to come apart at the seams but remains professional and right on target.
There is little reprieve from the ruthless intensity throughout Esto Es Brujeria, but that’s the point with a Brujeria album, you’d expect nothing less than torture from the Mexican cartels. Bearing that in mind, Mexorcista starts out as a slowdown from the brutal pace of most tracks this far into the album but is no less ferocious and predictably descends into the eventual hammering velocity. First single Mochado is another track in this vein, more Napalm Death-styled speed broken up by massive solid groove moments, an ideal track to promote the scope of the contents of Esto Es Brujeria.
Testamento 3.0 is biblical in its heavy slow burn start that eventually spirals out of control into a whirlwind of tempo changes, a brilliant mix of tone and just about everything Brujeria is musically about. Despite being the longest track on the album it never outstays its welcome and is spread out enough to hold the listener’s attention and still look forward to what’s coming next. What comes next is Covid-666, a tidy early 1980s style punk romp, think Minor Threat / D.R.I. / T.S.O.L. albeit with new generation production to lean on to enhance the wallop it’s packing.
Broached solely in Spanish, there’s a distinct feeling throughout that I don’t belong here, that I don’t belong to Brujeria’s world and could never be initiated. And this is part of the attraction: metal is supposed to be about rebelling and listening to music that is dangerous or unpleasant. Even their excellent cover of Cocaina (popularised by Eric Clapton as Cocaine) is presented entirely in Spanish and the dirty production gives it a grotty vicious cartel feel that is a wonderfully fresh take on a classic.
Rather than run this album start to finish I’d probably cherry-pick tracks for inclusion in a playlist, either a Brujeria playlist or a mix of tracks such as Bestia De La Muerte, Perdido En El Espacio and Politicamente Correctos, the previously mentioned Mochado and Tu Vida Loca, but that’s not saying Esto Es Brujeria is average – far from it in fact. There’s enough going on here to keep extreme metal fans interested no matter your angle; whether it’s speed, or chugging savage grooves, it’s all here and all done extremely well. Does this album change the heavy music landscape like some of the members’ day jobs?
No, they’re not trying to break new ground as such, but Esto EsBrujeria is definitely a worthy addition to the Brujeria catalogue.