Ill Niño have taken multiple knocks for continuing to forge a long-forgotten path in a long-dead genre, diligently brushing away cobwebs, side-stepping obstacles and generally keeping the faith when so many have moved on to other religions. So, seemingly, as the last of a dying breed that refuse to jump on the nay-saying bandwagon, I've accepted this chance to defend them.
Their last album, 'Enigma', a Cement Shoes release that was delayed numerous times (which naturally affected sales), turned out to be something of a welcome surprise. I'd not heard the band prior to that and what impressed me more than anything else was their luxuriantly flowing amalgamation of Latin rhythms and vocals with a good, clean dose of hard rocking. It took them seven months to record but their patience clearly paid off. 'Dead New World', on their new Victory label, finds the band singing from the same lyric sheet but clearly to a completely different tune. The recording itself has been somewhat stripped back to create rougher edges and the Latino and electro affectations are almost completely missing (they occasionally pop up teasingly, but feel like something of an afterthought in the process). They've aimed for a more basic, full-frontal assault of Bleeding Through-style macho posturing blended with an, admittedly less than awe-inspiring, rather cluttered, radio-friendly, rock sound.
I think it's safe to say Christian Machado's vocal style dominates the album, with his familiar penchant for using multiple vocal recordings to build up a kind of gang-chant in places. Here, though, he also treats us to some metalcore scream-to-clean vocals and some eye-opening deep bellows too. His range has always been pretty impressive, but this is stepping it up to a whole new level. At times, it's almost as if he's dictating the amount of grunt the rest of the band put in, rather than the other way around. Tearing into the openings of 'God Is Only For The Dead' and 'Serve The Grave', Machado gives it his all leading to a powerhouse display of drumming and a similarly hefty level of guitar chopping and chugging, whilst holding back for 'Against The Wall' and 'If You Were Me' results in a smoother ride for all.
Brushing quickly over their Smashing Pumpkins cover of 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings', you'll find the album highlight, 'The Art Of War' ripped through with an arsenal of drum shots, and riding a Soulfly-esque tribal groove. There's also the monstrous 'Killing Me, Killing You' to consider as it pounds away creating a monumental driven energy all curled around a brief flourish of nifty Spanish acoustic guitar. This is the true sick realisation of just how pumped the band were in the recording studio and clear proof that Ill Niño aren't quite as stuck in the mud as we perceive them to be.
I've languished on the album's stronger points to create what, I believe, is a valiant defence but, if my review has changed your opinion of this much-maligned New Jersey sextet, even just a bit, then I'd whole-heartedly recommend you heading over to your iTunes/HMV/whatever store and grabbing a copy of 2008's 'Enigma', because at the end of the day it's three times the album that 2010's 'Dead New World' is.
Also online @ MTUK = http://www.metalteamuk.net/nov10reviews/cdreviews-in.htm