Album number six from the New Jersey metallers.
Heavy of dreadlocked hair, New Jersey metallers Ill Niño stay true to their Latin metal/rock formula with album number six, ‘Epidemia’.
Ill Niño made waves in a heavily saturated market at the turn of the last decade with a powerful album setting them out as a promising bunch. A mixture of heavy breakdowns and pained vocals with flecks of rap and Latin American instrumentation ensured it would be a high benchmark. Since then they have tried to recapture that initial spirit and this is as close as they have come. The problem is their debut, ‘Revolution Revolución’, was released when nu metal was at the tail end of its mainstream chart-bothering strike, making ‘Epidemia’ feel a bit too similar to where the band was 11 years ago and smacks of a lack of ideas.
This is a huge shame considering the obvious talents these guys have. Labelled “alternative metal” because although there are strong influences from each corner they remain not quite nu metal, not quite heavy metal and sadly lacking in the South American influences that made them interesting a decade ago and which bands such as Breed 77 or the mighty Sepultura put to much better use.
Title track ‘La Epidemia’ is the pick of the lot: tight rhythms, chugging guitar riffs and Christian Machados’ angry vocal – a positive example of what these guys are capable of. The charging guitars, based around a wonderfully simple metal riff, samba beats and screeching vocals on ‘Escape’ will surely incite and entice live audiences as well as those turning the volume dial to maximum elsewhere.
Despite some clear highlights, the guitars are surprisingly lacklustre. Considering now-established rhythm guitarist Diego Verduzco and ex-Machine Head axeman Ahrue Luster are on duty and seemed to be hitting their stride last time out they are quite ineffective. Granted, Ill Niño has never been a guitar shredding band but remove some light ambient textures and the odd crushing breakdown there is little to pay attention to. Dave Chavarri is clearly still a very good drummer. His crisp beats are a signature of the nu metal era but performed with less self-conscious flair of that time and more sturdy control.
Final track ‘Invisible People’ is a superb example of what Ill Niño is capable of: loud, harsh guitars, Latin percussion, tight but chaotic drums and vocals that mix clean singing and gruff hardcore screams. Unfortunately it is too little too late. A bit more of this kind of writing could have sparked a welcome epidemic.