Review Summary: They are mean. They are angry. They are furious. And in their Dead New World, they are going to let you know it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the first time I heard the album, why did I keep getting the feeling that these guys have been seriously infuriated by the audience? Even after crafting such a magnificent album such as Enigma, the band's nu metal fanbase simply gave up on the band due to the lack of sheer energy and subtlety of the album. And so, the boys thought. The boys pondered. "You want energy, huh? We'll give you energy" - and that was the only statement running through the minds of the boys when they wrote the album.
First of all, let us see what actually went wrong. In Ill Nino's fourth studio album, Enigma, the band wanted to explore and experiment their Latin traditions while taking things easy. Although Enigma was musically an exceptionally beautiful album, it was not the cup of tea for the hardcore audience who listened to their music. In other words, there was a significant drop of overall energy in the album, which was not quite appreciated by Ill Nino's original nu metal fanbase - and also amongst the fans who loved the energy in their songs.
Of course, Ill Nino have came out of the "dimly-lit room barred within solid walls"-like genre, known as "Nu Metal", quite long ago and have opened themselves to a whole new world of a more Alternative Metal style genre. Some influences from their Latin traditions. Some influences from Heavy Metal. Some influences from Thrash. Overall, much of the songs after their first two albums would fall under the genre of Alternative Metal - or as they themselves describe their music, Latin Metal. That, we should all keep in mind. They have walked forward from Nu Metal.
2010 October, and Ill Nino makes their return with their fifth studio album, Dead New World. And if you think that this band is not worth listening to because they have "lost their energy", well think again. You think Revolution Revolucion was "energetic". You think Revolution Revolucion was "headbanglike". If you do, then you would have to invent new words to describe the ferocity of Dead New World. Believe me when I say this, Ill Nino has never been as ferocious yet as mature as in Dead New World. It is brutal. It is ferocious. And the overall album's music can be best described as "heavy metal / alternative metal combining elements of nu metal and frequent metalcore touches throughout the whole album, with the deepest Latin influence they have ever carried out in their music".
The overall chorus sections in the album have all been some of the best chorus sections Ill Nino has ever done - melodic, touching, and destined to leave an impact. Truly, they have never been more magnificent.
Yes, the album is very void in Spanish lyrics. The only Spanish lyrics that you will find throughout the album will be scattered here and there in the form of a few words. But does that mean that the album is not Latin enough. No. Absolutely devastating mixture of Dave's drums and Danny's percussions - the most extreme in any Ill Nino record by far, with Laz's bass work accurately keeping up with the speedy drums destined to vibrate you to your Adam's apple; Diego's proud rhythm sections and fierce flamingo guitar frenzies distributed all over the album laid down in front of Ahrue's most tactical guitar work ever - with riffs applied in such ways to simply blow your mind off - carves the pathway for the most Latin-influenced album Ill Nino have ever created. So what if there is a considerable lack of Spanish lyrics in the album. You could not have asked for a more Latin album from these boys.
Not just the most Latin album. Like I said, this is also their heaviest and most energetic effort up-to-date.
The songs? The album kicks off with a rage with powerful first verses making way to Chris complaining the absence of God in these dire times in such a beautifully scornful chorus, you could not have asked for a better opening track, "God Is For The Dead". The only disappointment would be the track length - which is too short for such an amazing song - and the bridge of the song, which seems very "down" and "disappointing" compared to the rest of the song.
And if you think the previous track was heavy, then be ready to increase your "headbangs per second" because "The Art Of War" is a pure May Day - Latin style, with a unique chorus and a surprising finish that is destined to leave a mark.
"Against The Wall" was released as the first single off the album - and if you think that the rest of the album is like this track, you are so dead wrong. To be honest, this is the most "out-of-place" track in the whole album - and I have no idea as to why they released this song as the first single. Even though the chorus section is quite impressive, it is not only simply not their best, but also the rest of the song would be best described with the word "lame". If you have heard the song, found it "terrible" and created your mindset that "this album is going to suck", do not be fooled. This is on the bottom.
Tired of "Against The Wall" by now? It is time to journey through the "eerily" delightful tune of the first verses of the "Mi Revolucion" - supported with profound and exceptional percussions use. And then Chris growls mockingly: "Bastard. Cheater. Liar" - pure genius - entering into its screaming chorus section.
Although served with an intense intro, "Bleed Like You" would actually turn out to have quite the "pop-pish" feeling into the song. A calm after the storm of "Mi Revolucion". Melodic. And it includes an Ill Nino guitar solo. It will probably do well with the mainstream audience, but not as much with the hardcore fans of Ill Nino.
Little adjustments in drums can make some parts of one song sound so much better. "Serve The Grave", which kicks off typically, has absolutely imbalanced first verses into it, ultimately leading down to the shattering chorus section. Heavy. Eccentric guitar solo WARNING - and the only disappointment would be: "Why did it end so quickly?"
"If You Were Me" - and it kicks off with possibly one of the most substandard intro in the album. But this is one of those songs which you should not judge by the intro. One of the most absolutely astounding chorus Ill Nino has ever done - designed to make the hairs on your skin stand. Purely Emotional Tune. That is all.
"Ritual" is one of those songs that "has it all". The comparatively soft first verses. The heavy pre-chorus. And one of the most touching choruses in the album - further beautified by the mournful cries of Chris.
And now. Buckle up, everyone. Because you are about to witness possibly the best Ill Nino track ever - one such track signifies the music of Latin America and Heavy Metal and fuses them into one perfectly. Flamingo guitar frenzy, with pure Latin leads playing in the background suddenly leading to an explosion that would grotesquely sever your head and serve it on a plate, "Killing You, Killing Me" was designed to be the signature track of Ill Nino. And full growl hooks is… OMG! An explosion. Even the flamingo guitar solo in the bridge. Honestly, when all of you listen to this track, each and every one of you will feel like: "Were these the guys who released an album like Revolution Revolucion and Confession? I can't believe it!" This is Ill Nino at its best. This is the song that defines metal in Latin America. Go listen to it NOW!
"How Could I Believe" - and when the rest of the song quite matches with the style of the songs like "If You Were Me" and "Ritual", there is one specialty to this track. It gave birth to the most fantastic Ill Nino guitar solo ever. Very Latin. And what is even more astounding was how the drums and the riffs supported the whole guitar solo. You love guitar solos? You will love this.
And now, be ready for another disappointment. Whereas Ill Nino has been surprisingly better with their previous covers, the cover of Smashing Pumpkin's "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" is not only completely "out-of-place" from the whole album, it is also "nothing special" at all. Wrong choice of song for such an extremely brutal album, I would say.
And now for the finale. "Scarred". An unusual intro that would be both like and disliked by many soon turns into a snare flurry until finally entering the song. Mind you, how the song enters the chorus and the chorus itself are simply no less than grand. And the final chorus of the song is destined to grow on any metal fan - making way for the perfect finish for Ill Nino's most perfect album to date.
Of course, the album has its hiccups ("Against The Wall" and "Bullet With Butterfly Wings") and there were many areas which could have been improved, such as the bridge of "God Is For The Dead" and the intro to many of the songs. Many of the original "Nu Metal" fanbase may still argue that they are not "Nu" enough. But heck, the album is utterly restless if we are talking about "energy". Nothing like Revolution Revolucion. Nothing like Confession. Nothing like One Nation Underground or Enigma. Ill Nino finally managed to fuse the energy of their earlier releases and the maturity of "Enigma" to create their wildest, and, might I daresay, their best record ever.
Fated to emerge as one of the best albums of 2010. You will not be disappointed.