It’s been almost sixteen years to the month since Brujeria has delivered product to the masses. That’s awhile for cartel boys to be out of the game and leaves the floor with plenty of room for someone to take over. But no one ever did. Maybe it’s a matter of respect when you’re dealing with machete wielding gangsters with a taste for cocaine, anarchy and throwing real beheadings onto album covers.
I gotta give it up to Brujeria. They’ve got the theatrics that you usually find in a black metal band with personality to spare. Take into account that they actually write good tunes to back it up, so it’s not all gimmick. But then again, you have to wonder how much the machetes have dulled in the years since 2000’s Brujerizmo. Surprisingly little actually. We’ve had a taste of the product since then and it’s been good going so far. Or at least it has been for me. If you hated the Viva Presidente Trump! EP that’s your problem. I laughed my ass off. About as much as the Snapchat filters I’ve been using on the head of Matando Güeros.
Pocho Aztlan is Brujeria on every level. It’s not an evolution in sound or approach. The album is on the kind of death metal/grindcore you’ve come to expect from the gang. It’s abrasive and comes off like a 350lb bouncer. It’s the tough guy in the room, kinda like with Nails’ attitude but without the blasting ADHD songwriting. And actually has a sense of humor. Though Pocho Aztlan does go for more of a moody setup on its first/title track it’s all a minute-long ruse. The track turns into an anthem-esque march that sounds like a declaration of war for three more minutes. And then the heavy-as-nails, grinding “No Aceptan Imitaciones” is where things really rev up and get moving. Old fans are going to feel right at home. And from here on out, you know what to expect. Which leaves us with the following conundrum:
The audience attitude on this album is going to probably be, and remain, two fold:
- It’s maintains the sound Brujeria have already laid down and is a banger.
- It’s boring and the same thing.
Reading general impressions of the album from others, it’s what I’ve seen. And shortly after I heard the album four weeks back, it’s what I expected. But who walked into this expecting a change in sound? Brujeria never hinted at having elements of Cephalic Carnage or Gridlink, though I’d be interested to hear such additions. But then it also probably wouldn’t be a Brujeria album. No, Pocho Aztlan maintains, and on that level the whole of the album kicks a pretty heavy amount of ass…if this has been your bag before.
Though as much ass as it does kick, don’t find myself coming back to it all that often. Maybe that’s because of other albums I’ve been listening to at the time. But the theatrics aside, there isn’t too much to “wow” about here. The guitars and drums are very strong and balance the Carcass-like death metal and Napalm Death grindcore elements excellently. And I’m sure there’s no reason for that other than coincidence. Over this, vocalist Juan Brujo sounds like he’s about to lose his mind, but still comes off as commanding.
I suppose I should also mention the excellent hardcore/punk tracks “Mexico Campeon” and “California Uber Aztlan.” Both songs are as old school as the players in the band and are like watching circle pits open in your living room.
Brujeria plays it safe with this album but Pocho Aztlan is more than a welcome addition to the catalog of an already strong band. Fans of death metal and grindcore should find plenty on here to love. It’s a solid album with solid production that is always over-the-top. Those that have enjoyed previous Brujeria albums, well, you’ve probably already gotten this. Those that haven’t given the band a chance, sit down with it and let its madness overtake you. It’s a familiar chaos but it’s still a declaration of war.
You can find me here.