Album Review: Brujeria - Esto Es Brujeria
Reviewed by Dan Barnes
Courting controversy from the outset, ‘mysterious’ bandidos, Brujeria, formed back in 1989, emerge from hiding for a new slice of Latin-based Death-Grind carnage, Esto Es Brujeria. The band’s recorded output has been few and far between of late, with this being the first record since 2016’s Pocho Aztlan and there being a sixteen-year gap between it and the millennial Brujerizmo. Having never been involved in organised crime gangs, I can only imagine the logistic nightmare it must be to establish and maintain a successful operation, so writing and producing records would be low down the list of day-to-day commitments.
Such is the nature of Brujeria that it exists on a revolving door of musicians and contributors, making each release aesthetically and artistically separate from what has gone before. And, if this is the case, then Esto Es Brujeria owes as much to Birmingham in the UK than it does to anywhere in Mexico, thanks to the presence of a certain bass player (no names mentioned, I ain’t no grass!).
In listening to the sixteen tracks of Esto Es… there is a distinct divide between the first half-dozen songs and the remaining ten. Early on, the album goes for the jugular with blast-beat drumming and filthy, death-grinding riffs. G A-K is the purest version of this, with Tu Vida Loca and Bruja Encabronada – you’ll have to excuse my pronunciation here – featuring some deathy breakdowns.
Album opener, Esto Es arrived with a spoken word section, which adds a brief sprinkling of brass instrumentation to the track, El Patron del Reventon goes for the dirty, fuzzy riffs and a grimy tone to the staccato lines, while Estado Profundo has a skipping riff and the dual vocal seems to permeate everything.
Unsurprisingly, there is a solid Napalm Death-ness to the early grinds that continues in a lesser form throughout the rest of the record.
The Second City’s vibes take an unexpected turn from Mexorcista onwards, as the blast-beats drums and uncultured guitars begin to give way to a sludgy, heavier sound. The first time involves an off-beat drum at the end of a bar; Bestia De La Muerte has a machine-gun riff amid its spacious moments and Politicamente Correctos is built around an unmistakeable bass (you don’t need a DNA swab to identify this perpetrator).
Testamento 3.0, Lord Nazi Ruso and Cocaina all exist in an odd sludging death grind arena, with Covid-666 (well, someone was going to do it) incorporating some groove. But the biggest Sabbath-influence are heard in Mochado and Perido En El Espacio, which shows the merging of the styles at their best.
Regardless of the rotation of the musicians within the band, Brujeria always manage to maintain the core elements to their sound, and Esto Es Brujeria is no different. Less out and out grinding than the Matando Güeros debut or its follow up Raza Odiada, Esto Es… still maintains the rage and ire of those early releases. And that’s all I know about it, Officer.