Latin metal makes a return.
Ill Nino’s latest offering; the hugely delayed album “Enigma” finally gets a release on their new label Cement Shoes (who they signed to since being dropped by Roadrunner). The album is a heady mix of furious, pounding metal and melodic Latin influences.
It’s good to hear the band have stuck with their roots so closely; many of the tracks have sections of Spanish lyrics or are completely sung in Spanish and they mix tribal drumming, flamenco guitars and percussion with a salsa flavour in with the metal riffs and growling • slow track ‘March Against Me’ has all these Latin qualities, sounding almost like a Santana track when the Spanish guitar comes in over the Salsa-like drums.
As well as the Latin influences they retain the metal riffs and some of the tracks are genuinely very heavy, like opener ‘The Alibi of Tyrants’ on which Cristian Machado’s vocals are given a serious workout as he moves from Spanish to English, guttural screams to smooth melody and the riffs are chunky but tuneful. This strangely complimentary coupling can be heard again on ‘Finger Painting (With the Enemy)’ which opens sounding like something from a belly dancing class and then suddenly becomes a thundering, compulsive metal tune with a chorus that makes you want to get out a lighter and wave it about.
Tunes definitely win out over riffs on much of the album; tracks like the anthemic ‘Pieces of the Sun’ which has a catchy melody and sing along vocals over insistent tribal drums comes across as almost pop (the drums verging on drum and bass). Even those songs that have heavy moments always have a melodic break in them somewhere, usually involving soulful Spanish crooning or complex Flamenco guitar twiddling. It’s an approach that works remarkably well on this record and even despite the nu-metal edge that occasionally creeps in to try and tug you back to the past, there is generally a fresh feel to all these songs, because as well as a reasonable dose of heavy riffs and the band’s unmistakeable Latin inspired leanings when you get right down to the basics this is a very varied album with a ton of decent tunes, and sometimes that’s all you need to have a good time.