Review: Brujeria ‘Esto Es Brujeria’

Mexican death/grind/groove institution Brujeria are back with their fifth full-length record in a thirty-year career that has stop-started plenty of times due to their members being in various other bands but has never disappointed when they’ve returned to the fold together. Esto Es Brujeria is here to give you ritualistic murder and drug cartel wars through the medium of brutality.

Brujeria 'Esto Es Brujeria' Artwork
Brujeria ‘Esto Es Brujeria’ Artwork

After a career based in violence and destruction, you wouldn’t expect that Brujeria would have anything left to prove. Sure, they’ve taken some breaks, but their records have always felt like an event. Like that crazy bastard friend that you see once a decade and have a really messed up night out with.

Opener Esto Es has a long-spoken word intro (don’t have a clue, not a speaker of Spanish but I’m assuming it’s something intense?) then breaks into bulldozing death grind that is broken up every so often by a mariachi trumpet in one of the weirder cameo appearances. But what would you expect from an album that seeks to define the band in the way a (basically) self-titled record would?

You’ve got devastating chugging brutality in the likes of Tu Vida Loca or Bestia De La Muerte, you’ve got waspish assaults of grindcore savagery like Bruja Encabronada, and then you’ve got oddly nuanced tracks like the doomy Perdido En El Espacio or punkish pandemic anthem Covid-666. Estado Profundo sounds like Max Cavalera on a diet of speedballs and Napalm Death. And yes I know, Spanish and Portuguese are not the same, but the vibe is definitely similar.

These ‘druglords’ of violence and chaos are as fiery as ever. Viva Brujeria…

Then there is the closer, a J. J. Cale track and popularised by Eric Clapton, that I’d never even thought of but seems aesthetically obvious. No Spoilers! If you thought you were going to get something one-dimensional, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick my friend, and now that stick is on fire and beating you to death.

It is always difficult to assess a band like Brujeria when they disappear for years on end as their personnel deal with other projects. Should this sporadic release schedule matter when the records are this good? I’m not sure, I just wish we could get a more consistent release schedule at times.

Esto Es Brujeria is still a wonderful encapsulation of what the band are when charged to full strength; a mix of cascading death grind carnage, ferocious growls and a couple of left-hand turns when you are least expecting it. At this point in a career, you could forgive them for playing it a bit safe but not Brujeria. These ‘druglords’ of violence and chaos are as fiery as ever. Viva Brujeria!

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Spotify | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Sandy Williamson