September 26, 2005

CD Review: Ill Nino - One Nation Underground

Ill Nino is back. The first time I heard them was live, way back in 2001. I thought they sounded good, a bit unrefined but with a different sound that had some potential. Their sound continues its evolution process with this, their third album One Nation Underground.

This album is an excellent example of a modern metal band that has a sound that stands out. They do a great job of blending out influences in with their sound. Begin with a strong base, heavy distorted guitars, blistering drums, and voice that can sing as good as it can growl. Then add in some eclectic influences, add a second percussionist with bongos and more drums and cymbals, mix in some Spanish lyrics, and finally layer in an acoustic guitar. There you have the basic mixture that is Ill Nino.

One Nation Underground gets off to a great start with "This is War." Opening with some heavy guitars backed by an acoustic guitar, before giving away to a growling blast of metal. The ease with which they slip in and out of the heavy screaming style songs and the slightly more radio friendly tracks, like "What You Deserve," is something. They are able to successfully master the feat while never losing the distinctive sound that makes them Ill Nino. Then there are the songs which incorporate the loud screaming elements, mixed with some radio friendly, and even a bit of old-school chord chugging that further adds more dimension to the band. It is hard to really choose standouts, but a few that stick in my mind are "De La Vida," "Corazon of Mine," and "My Pleasant Torture," but they all have their moments. It's rare to have an album that remains constant throughout, without any real drop offs or filler tracks.

Ill Nino is anything but a one trick pony. Some bands can fall into a rut where everything sounds the same, not so here. There are so many different elements being brought to the table that their sound is never boring. The evolution over their three albums is evidence of a growing maturity within the band. A maturity that doesn't forget where it came from. A band growing, a sound evolving, everything you need to make a mark on the metal scene.

This is an album that is hard to pick favorites from. Like I mentioned before, it is never boring. There are so many elements to focus on. One time you may focus on the vocals of Christian Machado, who has a strong versatile voice that floats effortlessly between screaming and singing. Another time you could focus on the dual guitars of Jardel Paisante and Ahrue Luster. I love picking up the backing acoustic guitar, it adds a fullness to the electrics and enhances the overall tonal quality of the music, not to mention the times when they step up to the front on occasion. Percussion is another driving force to the music, there is the traditional metal style drumming, but there is plenty of Spanish flavor to give create a new sound for the genre, created by Dave Chavarri and Danny Coutu. Listening to the drums and percussion gives the drums a thick sound and play an important role in the sound. And let us not forget the importance of the bass from Laz Pina, rounding out the rhythm section.

An aside I must mention is how good they sound live. I had the opportunity to see them live earlier this month, and the sound they achieve on disk is also achieved live. The acoustic guitars, the wonderful interplay of the drummer and percussionist, the effortless vocals, they are all there. The sound is complex on disk and it sounds just as good live, but with the added energy of watching them tear it up onstage.

Bottomline. This band just continues to get better. Their sound has evolved over their first three albums. Never content to sit back on past success, they stand to create new sounds and different music. I couldn't claim to be a big fan of theirs from the start, but this album could change that. It is a uniquer sound that works on different levels. It is definitely worth your time to discover the unique mixture of influences that create the Ill Nino metal tapestry.



Post a Comment