Album Reviews

Ill Niño – One Nation Underground

(tom day) UK release date: 26 September 2005

I have still not forgiven Ill Ni�o’s Christian Machado for slurring a feeble and intoxicated “Good evening Donington!” at a little after 10 am on a sunny Saturday morning at last year’s Download Festival. However, since his band have returned after a two year hiatus with a release that is both more structured and punchier than their last forgettable effort Confessions, he has progressed some way towards redemption.

We are told that Ill Ni�o are a “melodic metal” band. As clich�d a term as that is, to their credit they are a fine example of such work in action, who have ventured out in a more creative and (generally) more successful direction on their third release. In doing so, they have set themselves apart from some of the blander bands who dwell beside them (e.g. Spineshank).

The predominantly Latino quintet released their debut in 2001 and found themselves catapulted into the big time amidst the brief commercial explosion of nu-metal. While Revolution Revolucion clearly contained Christian Machado’s trademark clean melodies, it was also a darn sight heavier than anything they have produced since, which has perhaps been one of their shortcomings.

Thankfully, This Is War rectifies this by kicking things off in frantic fashion, with a Damageplan riff complete with pinched harmonics, but also a mellow solo that had me searching for Santana‘s name in the credits.

In fact, Ill Ni�o claim that they have made their “most challenging” record ever. Indeed, One Nation Underground does contain a plethora of tribal instrumentation and the synths, samba-driven percussion and propulsive riffage in In This Moment, for instance, all pull together to make a fine little number, while the catchy rhythms in La Liberacion Of Our Awakening stand up proud and tall.

Unfortunately, too often the “experimental” elements are mixed too low or appear for such short spurts that it appears the band weren’t quite as brave as they should have been. All I Ask For demonstrates the ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ approach, with some beautiful conga work buried well over two minutes into a slightly softer, crowd-pleasing jam.

At worst, Ill Ni�o come across as a poppy Soulfly jamming with Linkin Park (Everything Beautiful). Violent Saint is also poor – exactly the kind of bland tripe that Confessions was full of. Still, at least it’s tagged on to the end of a stronger collection of songs and the slightly sour taste it has left can be sweetened if Mr Machado takes it upon himself to check the position of the sun in the sky the next time he visits these shores.

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Ill Niño – One Nation Underground