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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!