Ill Niño

Epidemia

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Ill Niño refused to go the way of most fearsome hurricanes-turned-merely-annoying-tropical storms after being cut by Roadrunner Records in 2005 (amid steadily declining sales) and, perhaps more painful still, losing wunderkind guitarist Marc Rizzo to Max Cavalera's Soulfly a few years prior. Instead, the New Jersey-based sextet gamely ate humble pie with an album released by no-hope independent Cement Shoes, then rebounded to a larger label home in Victory Records -- all the while sticking firmly to their nu-metal-meets-Latin-music guns despite the style's relatively simultaneous fall from grace. This brings us to the group's sixth full-length (once again through Victory) in 2012's Epidemia, and, while perusing its contents, listeners will note the following. "Only the Unloved" displays the dense industrial intensity of Fear Factory, complete with a quasi-atonal riff-and-drums barrage and Cristian Machado's alternately sung and screamed vocals; the even more brazen, scorched earth assault of "La Epidemia" recalls none other than Slipknot's nine-headed puppet show monster, and the excellent "Escape," contagious as it may be, is still a ringer for Roots-period Sepultura. So where, oh where is Ill Niño to be found amidst all this? Well, lest you forget, originality was never the band's forte to begin with, and for all their vaunted Latin influences (they were signed to be a baby Sepultura, as envisioned by Ross Robinson), Ill Niño always did toe the nu-metal party line with maddening caution. While this could likely be blamed on Roadrunner's strong-armed A&R tactics years ago, it makes for a lame excuse now, when the band has nothing to lose by attempting to explore so-called Latin metal fusions. And so, a smattering of tribal drums scattered amidst the generalized sonic barrage of "Demi-God," "Invisible People," and countless others, plus the salsa-flavored melodies of "Death WWWWWWWWWWants More" (perhaps the album's most distinctive effort) unfortunately do not "Latin metal" make. So give Ill Niño kudos for perseverance, but one can't help but feel their potential remains unrealized on Epidemia.

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