Decades before Breaking Bad, Narcos, or Mayans M.C., BRUJERIA put the world of cartels and ritualistic murder on wax with a brutal power equivalent to when Compton arrived in pop culture via NWA.
BRUJERIA emerged, shrouded in mystery and infamy, in 1989. They forcefully introduced phrases like Matando Güeros, La Migra, Marijuana y Brujerizmo into the lexicon of extreme subcultures from hardcore punk to death metal. The brutal death grind band from Mexico came to represent the notoriously violent world of illegal drug trafficking, vicious retaliation, and a sinister syncretism between Afro-Caribbean sorcery like Palo Mayombe and Santeria with outright demonic possession.
They brandish rifles and machetes. Most importantly, they’re armed with an arsenal of brutal riffs. Rumors abound that frontman Juan Brujo ingeniously surrounded himself over the years with members of legendary bands like NAPALM DEATH, CARCASS, and AT THE GATES and performers from beloved TV shows like Orange Is The New Black and Jackass. But nobody knows for certain. That’s because the men and women of BRUJERIA conceal themselves with bandanas, serapes, and balaclavas.
Conjured like a cabal whenever society reaches a new tipping point between order and chaos, Brujeria sacrifices songs to full-length albums and singles, as decidedly apocalyptic as the Mayans, by their own calendar. Records like Raza Odiada (1995) and Brujerizmo (2000) are undeniable classics. Ripping excoriations of daily news like “Amaricon Czar” (2019) and “COVID – 666” (2020) are bitingly topical.
Coco Loco (a metal mascot as iconic to many metalheads as IRON MAIDEN’s Eddie or MEGADETH’s Vic Rattlehead) returns in 2023, emblazoned on a ferocious fifth full-length album dubbed simply Esto Es Brujeria.
BRUJERIA makes the metal version of the corrido, a traditional Mexican song style built on storytelling. The narratives cover everything from history to daily life for outlaws. In Brujeria’s case, the narrator’s tales range from righteous murders of oppressors and rivals to drug deals gone wrong. On Esto Es Brujeria, their blistering new platter, they growl about everything from being Party Boss to a first night in jail.
Brujeria’s 1993 debut, Matando Güeros, was so extreme that record stores and distributors returned copies en masse the moment translators made English versions of the lyrics available. But it was too late to stop BRUJERIA, as word of the devastating riffs and wild tales of drugs, sex, and murder spread. The book Heavy Metal: The Music And Its Culture included it on their 100 Definitive Metal Albums list. One of the songs landed on the soundtrack to Harmony Korine’s controversial drama Gummo.
Two years later, sophomore slab Raza Odiada declared war on then – California governor Pete Wilson (portrayed on the album by DEAD KENNEDYS’ frontman Jello Biafra) and his controversial immigration policies. Drug smuggling and related themes abounded, as well as a song supporting Mexico’s revolutionary Zapatistas. A music video for “La Ley De Plomo” somehow made it (briefly) to MTV.
Melody Maker called 2000’s Brujerizmo “wonderfully demented thrash” and “murderous noise, absolutely bereft of anything approaching accessibility.” CMJ praised Brujo’s “growling political rants,” while NME declared, “They take a hyper-violent idea to its logical, bowel-churning, and comically thrilling end.” The title track remains one of BRUJERIA’s most streamed songs on Spotify.
After a long absence, BRUJERIA returned with Pocho Aztlan in 2016. The band’s first album with Nuclear Blast Records injected fresh blood into the unstoppable crew in the form of new recruits. The songs combined the focused groove of Brujerizmo with the impenetrable death grind of the mid – 90s.
Esto Es Brujeria brings BRUJERIA roaring full circle into the post-pandemic era, with the deep polarization, civil unrest, ongoing brutality, and social upheaval of the day ripe for the band’s notorious critiques. Steeped in dense myth, extreme metal’s most notorious antiheroes materialize anytime, anywhere, to spin their tales of anarchic mayhem and lawless fury . They are eternal banditos, prepared to party.
Juan Brujo, Sangron, Fantasma, Pinche Peach, & La Encabronada | Vocals
El Criminal & El Embrujado | Guitars
Hongo & El Cynico | Bass
Hongo Jr. | Drums