Sunday Old School: Brujeria
Looking through the Sunday Old School archives, it seems there hasn't been too many articles featuring a mainly Latino band, with the exception of such Brazilian bands as Sepultura, Ratos de Parão and Sarcófago. So this week, Sunday Old School will be examining one of the most prominent, extreme and overall, best bands to have ever formed in Mexico, Brujeria. Brujeria was formed in 1989 at a party in Tijuana by Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares and featured such well known names as Dead Kennedys frontman, Jello Biafra, Faith No More bassist, Billy Gould and DJ Pat Hoed, along with vocalist Juan Brujo. Because several members were in other high profile bands, it was decided that they would adopt pseudonyms and wear disguises to hide their true identity, with the story being given that they were drug lords on the run from the FBI. They recorded their first single, "¡Demoniaco!" the same year and released it in 1990 through Nemesis Records. Owing to their busy schedules, it would be another two years before their next single, "Machetazos" hit the shelves, this time being released through Biafra's, Alternative Tentacles Records. It was around this time that Biafra also left the group and new members Pinche Peach and Raymond Herrera, also of Fear Factory, was brought in, which saw Pat Hoed move from drums to backing vocals.
Soon after the second single's release, the band signed a record deal with Roadrunner and brought in Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury on guitar. Their debut album, "Matando Güeros" generated much controversy due to the graphic front cover, which consisted of a photograph featuring a decapitated and disfigured head, which the band adopted as their logo, naming it "Coco Loco." The album's lyrics were also a subject of protest, with some people taking offense at their anti-Christian stance, as well as talk of sex, drugs and border crossing, not to mention the record's title. As is often the case however, the controversy only served to increase the profile of the band and shift a few more copies. The music itself was met with a mixed reaction from critics, but very positive ones from death metal and grindcore fans, remaining an extreme favourite to this day.
It was to be another two years before their sophomore full length album, "Raza Odiada," was released, but it proved to be worth the relatively short wait, with many fans and critics hailing the record as the group's best to date. It featured the return of Jello Biafra, who impersonated Republican politician Pete Wilson on the title track. The album also spawned music videos for the songs, "La Migra" and "La Ley del Plomo," the latter of which became popular on MTV and received airplay on late night metal shows. The politics of the band were still at the very forefront, with a photograph of Zapatista Army of Liberation de facto leader, Subcomandante Marcos adorning the front cover.
Despite their growing popularity, the band continued to keep their identities hidden and declined most concert offers, much to the disappointment of their fans and confusion of the press. They were able to give their fans something to cheer about however with the release of a compilation album of Kool Arrow Records material named, "Spanglish 101" in 1999, which featured two Brujeria songs, including the bizarre, "Don Quijote Marijuana," as well as a new EP in 2000 entitled, "Marijuana," which featured a tongue in cheek cover of "The Macarena" (with the name changed to the EP title) and four live recordings.
That same year, Brujeria released their third full length record, "Brujerizmo," which brought in former Cradle of Filth drummer Nicholas Barker, Terrorizer mastermind and Embury's Napalm Death bandmate, Jesse Pintado and a female vocalist named Gaby Dominguez, AKA "Pititis." The album sold very well and featured something of a more refined sound than the preceding records, in addition to receiving a nomination for Best Rock Album at the Latin Grammy's, though the band did not attend the ceremony and lost out to La Ley. A year later, the band released a compilation album entitled, "Mextremist! Greatest Hits," though it contained more rarities and b-sides than cuts from their albums.
Plans were then in place to write and record a fourth album, though the band has yet to do this to this day. Instead, Brujeria decided to step out onto the stage and on October 2, 2003 the band played its first official concert in Chicago, Illinois, before embarking on their first tour, which was dubbed the Mexecutioner Tour. The trek was documented on the DVD release, "Permission of Satan," which also focused on the recording of the first Asesino album and was self-produced and released by Juan Brujo himself.
Another compilation album, "The Mexecutioner! - The Best of Brujeria" was then released by Roadrunner in 2003 and the band decided to promote the release in a more traditional way than they had previously, which included giving interviews and hitting the road for the second time, on the imaginatively named, "Tour II." The tour brought the group to Brazil and Argentina for the first time, concluding the trek in Buenos Aires. Despite the tour, Brujeria was then inactive for some time, owing in part to a fallout between Juan Bruja and Dino Cazares, though a new compilation record, "The Singles" was released in 2006 and a third tour, the "No Seas Pendejo Tour" soon followed, which marked the first appearances of new members Tony Laureano and Carcass frontman Jeff Walker on bass. This also saw the band performing in Europe for the first time, especially in Spain where they returned for the "Don Quijote Marijuana" tour. Ever since then, the band has continued to perform across the globe, with the promise of new material still hanging over their heads. Will 2014 be the year the fourth Brujeria album is finally released? We'll continue to hope so. In the meantime though, what more can be said than, "iViva la Raza!" and "iViva Brujeria!"?
Brujeria - "Demoniaco"
Brujeria - "Matando Gueros"
Brujeria - "La Migra"
Brujeria - "La Ley De Plomo"
Brujeria - "Colas De Rata"
Brujeria - "Don Quijote Marijuana"
Brujeria - "División del Norte"
Brujeria - "El Desmadre"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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