Spoken about in the same hushed tones reserved for the actual identities of contemporary masked madmen Ghoul and Ghost, Brujeria was the head banging urban legend du jour for metal nerds in the late 90’s and early 00’s. For the uninitiated, imagine Danny Trejo’s Machete character fronting a death metal band full of likeminded south of the border scoundrels, singing about drug cartels, beheadings, political upheaval, Santeria, that kinda shit. With an infectious thrash/grind attack that sounded a lot like a cross between Fear Factory and Napalm Death, but I have no idea why. Trust me, it’s super fun.
Out of action since the watershed release of 2000’s “Brujerizmo”, save for a few compilation appearances and a west coast date here and there, Brujeria was seemingly willed back into widespread existence earlier this year by the rise of cartoon villain Donald Trump. Juan Brujo and company’s new mission is a full on assault against the wall building, Mexico hating would be “Presidnte”, and in the wake of recently released new record “Poncho Aztlan”, they vowed to “Make America Hate Again” at Voltage Lounge on Tuesday night.
Direct support came from likeminded grind institution Cattle Decapitation, whose approach has taken more of a turn towards straight death metal since I’d last caught up with them. Regardless, the San Diego collective received a hero’s welcome from the audience, who gave them the most brutal pit action of the night. The night’s biggest surprise was Piñata Protest, the San Antonio “Tex-Mex Punks” eventually getting a great reaction from the initially, typically dour metal crowd. Their fast paced, madcap, accordion fueled Le Butcherettes meet Gogol Bordello assault is one I’m looking forward to hearing more of.
An awed hush fell over the room as Brujeria prepared to take the stage. It’s hard to know what to expect from a band with this type of reputation. Luckily the “mexecutioners” know how to have fun, and make sure their audience has just as much, just as well as they spin bloody tales of desert bound crystal meth running and wholesale assassination. Juan Brujo demands reverence from the stage like a five star general, as he and his masked compadres blasted through over twenty tracks, appropriately enough, spanning the over twenty year history of the mysterious “Machetazos”.
Standouts included the thrashing new single “Viva Presidente Trump”, complete with the Donald himself appearing onstage, only to be led presumably to his grisly death by machete backstage (Whew, in glad that’s over, congrats, Hillary!), a slew of cuts from the aforementioned “Brujerizmo”, the group’s signature staccato double bass drumming and razor sharp guitar riff attack sounding as tight and savage as ever, and the “narcos satanicos” taking things all the way back to their groundbreaking 1993 debut for crushing set closer “Matando Gueros”.
Much like Dracula’s castle, or more fittingly, the dreaded “chupacabra” of Spanish folklore, one never can tell when the mythic folk heroes of Brujeria may appear next, if they appear at all. If they can evade the “federales” for long enough to lay down a set in your town, don’t miss the chance to take part of their bloody “revolucion”! You may never get the chance again…