It’s been 23 years since BRUJERIA initially and very controversially broke into the death metal scene. Their debut featured a questionably violent cover as well as a selection of grindcore infused death metal that demanded attention and the message was well received. Whilst boasting some sort of anonymity back in the 90s, their gimmick of actually being satanic drug lords is just that now, a gimmick. Despite this dropping of the veil, having members of NAPALM DEATH, CARCASS and FEAR FACTORY amongst their alumni means they have a pretty strong pedigree. However, Pocho Aztlan is the first full length the band have released in 16 years, so can they remain controversial in today’s day and age?
The answer is probably not, but Pocho Aztlan certainly stands amongst the heaviest albums released this year. Culpan La Mujer is a grindcore hulk of a track whilst the grooves of Bruja- and the most straight forward death metal assault of Profecia Del Anticristo shows that BRUJERIA have not lost any of their dynamic musicality.
The intense and often time jarring Spanish vocals add an interesting layer to the music, as they come across as bloated whilst being delivered with aplomb. Whilst even not understanding a lick of Spanish, the energy remains infectious even if the phrasing can be a little odd. The moments of silliness that pop up every now and again are sure to turn some people, especially on tracks like Mexico Campeon where the chorus is almost childishly simple as well as the samples used throughout do add a bit of tongue in cheek to the album, but they are more often than not immediately drowned out by monster riffs.
Pocho Aztlan picks up a significant amount of steam towards the tail end of the album, as the blast beats and grinding riffs refusing to let up until the slower and more deliberate attack of Codigos brings the rampage to a halt. Debilador is full to brim with punk rock energy and serves as a different way to close the album but instead bleeds into a questionable cover of California Uber Alles. Named California Uber Aztlan instead, the track feels weird being sung in Spanish and as such the iconic bridge section loses all impact and the song does little to add to the overall album.
If you weren’t aware of the long gap between album releases then its unlikely you could tell from the strength Pocho Aztlan. BRUJERIA utilise their entire arsenal of grindcore and death metal as well sprinklings of punk energy to great effect across the entire album. Once you can wrap your head around Juan Brujo’s pure Spanish vocal delivery then you’ll find this to be an album that is pretty savage from start to finish.
Pocho Aztlan is set for release on September 16th via Nuclear Blast Records.
For more information on BRUJERIA like their official page on Facebook.