After a sixteen year wait, Brujeria fans have finally been graced with a new album. The Mexican death metal group’s first album to be released since their 2007 re-formation is titled Pocho Aztlan. Filled with heavy, sludgy instruments and aggressive vocals, I get a very politically-driven vibe from this album. (I’m sure a Mexican band has plenty to say about the United States’ current political situation.) Even with my Dora The Explorer-level of understanding of the Spanish language, the message they’re trying to convey through their music is surprisingly clear.
The album starts out with a minute-long spoken word piece before the pounding rhythm comes in. The opening title track does a good job of giving the listener an idea of what to expect. Its powerful vocals and booming drums fit nicely in the all-around heavy mix. Pieces of Spanish dialect are spread throughout this album’s runtime, which I’m sure help tie the album’s themes together. It’s just a shame I can’t understand what’s being said most of the time. Aside from being left in the dark in that aspect, the only issue I have with this album is its closer track, “California Uber Aztlan,” a cover of Dead Kennedys‘ classic “California Uber Alles.” I’m pretty torn on this rendition. It brings a different, more upbeat vibe to the album as a whole, but it falls out of time a lot, and sounds inferior in quality to the rest of the album’s tracks. It would work if Brujeria used it as a hidden track, or advertised it as something they did for shits and giggles. It, unfortunately, stands out a bit too much, and for the wrong reasons, which ultimately distracts from the overall impression I get from this record.
By the end of its 46-minute runtime, however, Pocho Aztlan proves to be an overall strong record. It’s heavy, it’s angry, and Brujeria keeps it that way throughout its entirety. I would definitely have more of an appreciation if I could comprehend the language. Pocho Aztlan relies on lyrical power much more than most metal records that I’ve heard, and although the vocals themselves are strong, I’m sure understanding the power behind them would enhance the experience. Despite being unfamiliar with Brujeria before this release, this album was a fantastic introduction to the band, and I’m sure it will please longtime fans that have been waiting over a decade for this thing to come into existence.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Danielle Kenedy