Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Full Length Review: Cosmic Jaguar "The Legacy of the Aztecs" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Cosmic Jaguar
Location: Zhytomyr/Uzhgorod
Country: Ukraine
Genre: Technical/avant garde thrash metal
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: April 30, 2023
Previously to covering Cosmic Jaguar, I interviewed Sergio Lunático aka Metal Priest for his previous band Bestial Invasion, and several of their releases were extensively covered. Though his previous band was a straightforward thrash metal band, Cosmic Jaguar extends both the aggression and range of the genre. “The Legacy of the Aztecs” blows any remaining stereotypes about the stagnation and lack of imagination associated with thrash clear out of the water, demonstrating even greater growth potential.
“The Legacy of the Aztecs” is a conceptual album about Aztec culture and mythological legends based on an extensive amount of research and preserved as closely as possible during the songwriting. To help immerse you in that ancient folklore returned to life, Cosmic Jaguar make a massive effort to juxtapose the sharp contentiousness and fiery leads of thrash and classic metal with a variety of genres including progressive rock, jazz fusion, folk, blues, and Latin music, enhanced with atmosphere and effects.
During the songwriting process, the band goes far beyond creating different moods by using slower breakdowns, time changes, and extended solos. Alongside Bestial Invasion, a higher level of avant garde musicianhip shown by guitarist Juan Maestro and everything is carefully arranged and presented. Sergio Lunático’s bass tracks contribute significantly to this, complementing the guitars and drums in a way that evokes the sounds of Geddy Lee and Steve Harris. With gratuitous double bass and constant fills, drummer Denis Tornillo creates background thunder as he handles classic metal, thrash, blast, prog and jazz fusion with equal conviction.
However, the story does not end there. The contrasting influences and the addition of acoustic guitars, strings, wind instruments, and traditional folk instruments create a sense of creating another world, similar to that of the Aztecs. All the band members work together from one section to the next, turning on a dime as a unit without skipping a fraction of a second. The sonic images they evoke gives impressions of seeing a movie inside your mind, much as Sigh (another band ahead of their time) did on albums like “Hail Horror Hail” and “Scenario IV: Dread Dreams”.
The lyrics of each song reflect the research that went into studying Aztec gods and beliefs, and present their ideas in ways that don’t sail over the listener’s head. The only negative aspect in my opinion is that the vocal style Sergio Lunático chose doesn’t fit the music the band composed. Guest vocalist Chimalma makes up for it however. Although she only appears on three of the ten songs (including their cover of the English band Babe Ruth from 1972) she delivers lyrics in Spanish and English in an impressive fashion and I would have liked to hear more of her here. -Dave Wolff

Sergio Lunático: Vocals, bass, lyrics
Juan Maestro: Guitars
Denis Tornillo: Drums, percussion, folk instruments
Chimalma: Vocals on tracks 6, 8 and 10

Track list:
1. Teotihuacan: City of The Gods
3. The Northern Underworld
4. Yoalli Tlauana (Hymn to a Night-God)
5. Our Lord the Flayed One
6. The Harbinger of the Sun
7. Burn Your Gods (New Fire Ceremony)
8. Chimalma: Mother of the Quetzalcoatl
9. The Bloodthirsty Aztec Empire
10. The Mexican (cover Babe Ruth)

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