Review Summary: An album that suffers due to poor production and a lack of new ideas
Ill Nino had a helping hand from one of the world’s biggest metal labels for their debut, “Revolution Revolucion” which was released on the infamous Roadrunner Records label in 2001. Back then, Nu-Metal was all the rage, with bands like Slipknot, KoRn and Limp Bizkit becoming worldwide phenomena with albums such as “Iowa” and “Issues” storming the charts in their homeland and back over the other side of the pond. I remember the day I discovered Ill Nino; I was just 14 years old, sat in my IT lesson, randomly scrolling the Roadrunner site for new, interesting bands, headphones plugged in. As soon as the first video, “How Can I Live” rumbled into my eardrums, I was in love, the Spanish half-brother of KoRn refusing to release its grip on me until I heard the bands 2008 release, Enigma. I felt sorry for the band after reading their Wikipedia page, and decided to help them out by spending my hard earned £15 on the release, which also contained “The Undercover Sessions” for a mere £3 extra. Ha, how stupid I was
Perhaps the greatest crime “Enigma” commits in its full, dreary 54 minutes of run time is that it is essentially a less good, carbon copy of 2005 release “One Nation Underground”. At no point does it attempt to branch out into new, unfamiliar territory, but then again you could say this for all of Ill Nino’s releases to date. Then again, this albums strongest songs are actually those which stick to the classic Ill Nino formula-crunch guitars, strained to clean vocals, heavy influence upon added tribal drums and a nice, rumble base. “Finger painting (With the Enemy)” actually highlights a strong rhythm section quite well, while “The Alibi of Tyrants” is possibly the heaviest song Ill Nino have ever done, containing some catchy riffs and a fantastic intro. However, elsewhere, you will really struggle to find anything else to applaud, partially because a) you have heard it all before and b) it has probably mostly been done better.
Part of the blame can actually be attributed to the bands record company at the time, Cement Shoe Records. It is hardly at the forefront of exciting new sounds and ground-breaking bands, plus it has to be one of the worst run labels in the world. “Enigma” was set back by nearly a year due to the label not paying producers, subsequent legal bust-ups and a refusal to allow it on many digital platforms, and hence it feels a half-arsed record. Not only by the production values, but by the band members.
Christian Machado is hardly a man who has been blessed with the most distinctive or best sounding voice in the world of rock, but he has always managed to get away with it due to the strong band behind him. Not so here. In every single song save for the lucky few, Machado decides to randomly sound off with an ill-placed grunt here and a tired shout there. Plus, many songs on here simply seem to lose all steam halfway through. Track number five, “Compulsion of Virus and Fever” starts out with a cracker of a riff, but just seems to give up when the chorus is released. The lyrics don’t exactly help-
"No more war/ No more resolutions/ Solutions are drowning/ in puddles of weakness/ and it has never rained like this". Truly inspired, Machado.
Admittedly, the drum section on the album as a whole is as strong as ever, especially on the track “Kellogg’s, bombs and crackerjacks”, Lazaro Pina remains a solid base for the songs to build off, but his other guitar playing counterparts just do not add up. Varying from Machine Head-esque riffs to Ramones style solo’s just disrupts the flow, and although I know the band are trying to keep their quintessential Latin flavored roots; it sits out of place throughout the record.
Ill Nino did not half disappoint with this release. Many hoped that a new record label would add some fuel to the distinctly cool fire, but instead it has resulted in an album that is poorly produced, labored and, put simply, boring. Here’s hoping that this year’s release goes at least some way to repairing this bands reputation, as on their day, they can sound just as good as any of their competitors.
1. The Alibi of Tyrants
2. Finger painting (With the Enemy)
3. Guerrilla Carnival
4. Kellogg’s, bombs and crackerjacks