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Brujería’s third album, released five years later than its predecessor, features a more mechanic-industrial groove influence than their original grindcore based frenzy. Songs are meant to be catchier and that effect is totally accomplished, but I think it compromised a little the raw and mean principles this band was founded on. These groovy sections are slower, more easygoing. The memorability of these riffs however, make them fun and enjoyable just not in the same aggressive and dirty way their first records did. This humoristic hint has always been an integral part of the band anyway, so it isn’t like this record is going in a whole different direction, it’s just a softened version of their previous works.
Production wise, this album has the most modern production of the three. It doesn't sound acoustic, everything sounds much more digital and surrounding. I would say it sounds heavier, but somehow songwriting doesn't have the same weight and bad vibe their earlier albums did. Its heaviness is a matter of the mix really. Bass guitar is much more present, not as distorted as it was on “Matando Güeros” but not as clean as on “Raza Odiada”. This time they modeled a metallic and solid tone for the low end, equalized so that the mids and trebles help it to cut through the rest of the sounds. Very crunchy and dirty it gives more texture to the music really, and it gives the whole band a very live sound I would say. It shares the spotlight with the guitars every now and then, and it’s loud enough in the mix to be heard individually all the time even if it doesn't stand out by the bass lines themselves, that just stick to the guitar riffs.
Guitars’ distortion is very sharp and solid too, not too acid to dilute the weight of the instrument but still strident. Performance is utterly accurate, palm muted riffs are nailed perfectly; another aspect that helps tremendously to the overall cleanliness of the six string tracks. This technique in general gives an extremely sharp and edgy sound to guitars they took advantage from in a very fitting way. There are some pinch harmonics and high pitched chords here and there, these arrangements are applied correctly and bedizen nicely the riffs. Riffing as I said before isn't as old school as it was; it’s more modern, catchy and has a wider sense of melody and keys I feel. This gives the band’s compositions a more “planned” atmosphere; not as intuitive, raging and messy as on their past albums.
Drums are recorded perfectly too, the snare and the bass drums sound very live and acoustic, not so triggered. This kind of contrasts the modern polished production, but still sounds pretty cool. Better than on their past efforts I would say. The same goes for the cymbals, you can hear them very deeply and you can feel their shape in the music, not just like the insertion of an occasional splash. It sounds very “3D” if that makes sense to you, not as flat as on old school recordings. The improvement in the recording process in those years was very notable, they set pretty much today’s standard regarding the vividness and saturation of extreme music tapes. The use of blast-beats and fast “tupa-tupa” beats in general is relegated to a second plane, this time slow and groovy rhythms are used more often. The performance behind the drum kit is top notch really, every strike sounds very even and the technique of the drummer can be appreciated nicely.
Vocals are the most constant department of the band, Juan Brujo’s weird accent is always present and ready to add more sarcasm to the already twisted lyrics; dealing with drug abuse, border issues and violent sex. Being sung in Spanish but written originally in English, lyrics suffer from slight grammar issues but it's funnier that way. And that's what this band is about after all, having fun.
Simply: One of the greatest albums ever made. Now, that alone won’t suffice and I’ll be shouted down by the moderators for saying that without elaborating, so here’s my review for “Brujerizmo”.
Brujerizmo sounds like a heavier, Spanish-speaking version of Fear Factory’s “Demanufacture.” Instantly, you can tell that the album is very different from their earlier works. Seven years have passed since the release of their first album, Matando Güeros, a poorly-produced but still very fun grindcore album, and while Brujerizmo is only the third full length, there is already a marked increase in the maturity and sensibility of the band that is evident throughout this record.
The guitar work is a highlight of the album. With simple and extremely catchy, yet still very heavy riffs with a crystal clear production, good luck trying to not bang your head and shout the lyrics. But the true highlight of the album is the bass. Brujeria have multiple bassists and I don’t know why, but the bass is so unbelievably heavy, it makes a nice change from many CDs where the bass is totally inaudible. The bass work is especially heavy on the songs with less melodic riffing, such as “La Traición” and “Anti-Castro”.
Mentioning the latter track brings me to my next point – the vocal work. With of course very heavy vocals for the most part, there are quite a few more different vocal styles performed on Brujerizmo. Rather than just Juan Brujo’s straight up brutal growls, which are still there on a plentiful level, there are cleaner vocals especially on “Anti-Castro.” This works on the level that it gives the idea that it really is gangsters singing on this album and not just death metal vocalists.
The drums are levelled perfectly, and provide an excellent pick behind the perfectly written guitars. There are extremely few blast beats, another indication of the huge amount of progression that the band has made in a relatively small number of years, leaving the old-school grindcore behind in favour of an album that’s friendlier to the mainstream listener.
There’s still a very warped sense of humour on the album, even for those who don’t understand the lyrics. English translations of the lyrics talk about typical Brujeria topics like crossing the border, Satanism, sex, and drug trafficking. Aside from the fairly pleasant lyrical matter, some strange samples are present on the album. The opening title track features a bizarre sing-along from a Mexican childrens program, and the start of “Cuiden A Los Niños” is a recording of the Spanish version of the witch doctor. Very strange, but this peculiar humour works in the albums favour.
The only low points of the album are the two songs “El Bajon” and “SIDA De La Mente” which don’t grab my interest at all. But that still leaves 11 songs not just worth listening to, but really excellent songs too, which in this age of modern music, is a monumental effort. Brujerizmo is something that metalheads all around can enjoy, it’s accessible enough for newer listeners, but still heavy and brutal enough for the most hardened death metal fans. Almost every part of the album comes together perfectly and it will stay in your record collection for a long time – I’ve owned the CD for about 3 years now and it still gets regular playing, and one can only declare that to be money well spent.
Brujeria’s debut album, the brutal “Matando Gueros”, was in it’s own right very extreme and not quite suited to everyone’s taste. On their second album, “Raza Odiada”, the Mextremists served up something a bit more commercial, without sacrificing their brutality (even if it was another kind of heaviness) and characteristic madness. On their third album, “Brujerizmo”, Brujeria once again evolve their music, albeit closer to what their second album sounded like more than their first.
All the elements that make Brujeria a cult favourite are in place. The Spanish vocals, the crunchy Fear Factory reminding riffs and the crazy, tongue in cheek song lyrics. Although defined by a bit more seriousness and discretion, Brujeria still have some issues. From the invocation of witches for sexual pleasure, the tribulations of constant drug abuse and partying, to drug trafficking and, well, “cumasauruses”, you can’t help but flash a smile every once and a while at their deranged sense of humour. But it’s physically more so than mentally that Brujeria have changed.
First of all, they have modernised their sound. The once dodgy production of Brujeria albums has now been replaced with crystal clear production. Everything is audible, from the guitars, to the drums, to the bass, to the vocals, everything is easy to process and therefore easier to listen to. Of course, for fans of “Matando Gueros” though this could be considered a shortcoming.
Second of all, there’s not a blast beat in sight. While the speed is there, this isn’t grindcore anymore. Brujeria have more or less let go of their grind roots and decided to focus on something more refined, more “progressive” if you must. That’s not to say that there isn’t double kick-drums and fast tom-tom rolls, those aspects are present, but the overall impression is that Brujeria have brought down the tone a little bit. It’s not only in the rhythm department that Brujeria have changed, but also in the guitars and vocals. The vocals aren’t the same guttural cookie monster that they used to be. In fact, on this album Brujeria Juan Brujo shows that he’s capable of more than making noise. He still growls, but not all his growls are the same, there is more variety, including the occasion scream. Moving on to another aspect of the music, the riffs are more structured this time around giving the album a much better flow than previous Brujeria albums. The songs develop ideas much more smoothly than those of yesteryears and there are even subtle moments of, dare I say it…melody. Yes, it’s true. Brujeria have indeed evolved into something quite special.
The album begins with “Brujerizmo” and it’s childish Mexican sing along intro (don’t ask). “Brujerizmo” is a riff heavy mix of Juan Brujo’s satanic declarations and Nick Barker’s awesome drumming skills, talent which the listener is able to find all over the album. Right from this song, it’s evident that there’s a much more “groove” side to Brujeria, thankfully in moderation as not to be detrimental to the heaviness of the album. This is more so obvious from the second that “Vayan Sin Miedo (Go Without Fear)” starts to blast out of the speaker, it’s also the first chance to hear the different vocal styles on offer as the song incorporates an interaction between talking Spanish vocals and Juan’s trademark yelling. Next up is “La Traicion (The Betrayal)”, which is heavy on the kicks drums yet more grooving than anything else on the album. Especially helpful in creating the song’s interesting feeling and mood are the high guitar notes, unfortunately, the songs over too fast for the listener to fully absorb the hidden intensity, but all is not lost as Brujeria serve up “Pititis, Te Invoco (Pititis, I invoke You)”, an absurd song with a funny interaction between a dual vocal template, the growling ones belonging to a horny bastard invoking a demon for sexually pleasure and the screeching ones belonging to Pititis, the demon being summoned. Coupled with a melodic chorus (where you can clearly hear Shane Embury’s characteristic buzzing bass tone), it’s clear that as much as Brujeria have changed, they’re still the same.
The next song, “Laboratorio Cristalitos (Little Laboratory Crystals)” has a funny little intro sample and is probably the fastest thing on the album, the closest thing to a blast beat. Being a short song, it provides a couple of kicks but isn’t really worth dwelling on, so enter “Division Del Norte (Northern Division)”, the highlight of the album. With an easy-going verse and heavy sing along chorus (if you could ever consider death metal sing along material), “Northern Division” has some dangerously catchy riffs and is definitely one of the songs the listener will come back for, outstanding work from the “Mexican” madmen.
Next on the list is “Marcha De Odio (March of Hate)”, which from the beginning spoken intro doesn’t let go of the listener. Although catchy – just like the rest of the album – “March of Hate” has something more to it. The bass and drums verses perfectly compliment the pummelling development of the song. The album further delights the aural senses as it serves up “Anti Castro”, another hard hitting yet extremely catchy (at times) song that satirizes American-Cuban relations. When I say Brujeria are crazy, I mean they are CRAZY!
Continuing the nice flow of the album is the evil “Guiden A Los Ninos (Take Care of the Children)” and the crushing “El Bajon (Crashing)”, the latter being a hilarious outlook on the extremities of narcotic consumption. At one point it introduces samples/vocals of incoherent drug abusers and their ramblings. Only Brujeria could write something like this. Just when you’re ready to start shooting up yourself as effect of Brujeria’s dementedness you’re offered another slap of deranged inspiration, this time referring to “Mecosaurio (Cumasaurus)”, a song testifying to men’s desperate need to unload, I’ll spare the details and move on to their next song, “El Desmadre (Total Chaos)”. Thankfully the song title is sufficient enough a description of the track’s chaotic nature. Last but not least, we have the ominous “Sida De La Mente (A.I.D.s of the Mind)”. A brutal track elaborating on the paralysing effects of organised religion on the weak minded, it blossoms from a silent bass laden verse to a fast paced slice of death metal with tribal drumming and humongous riffs, it’s hard to imagine this album ending in a better way.
From start to stop, “Brujerizmo” provides the listener with thrills and chills, bangs and crashes and more catchy, head-banging moments than you can shake a bloodied machete at, but it’s no “Matando Gueros”. Anyone looking for the aural carnage of “Matando Gueros”, or even “Razr Oidiada” will be left with a strong bitter taste in their mouth, but those looking for a much more mature and alternative Brujeria will be foaming at the mouth for more. So, get crashing!