Saturday, November 4, 2023

EP Review: Cosmic Jaguar "The Order of the Jaguar Knights" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Cosmic Jaguar
Location: Zhytomyr
Country: Ukraine
Genre: Avant garde/technical thrash metal
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: October 12, 2023
Released earlier this year, Cosmic Jaguar's "The Legacy of the Aztecs" is a thrash/classic metal album featuring a distinctive interflow of blast, jazz fusion, progressive rock, blues, folk, and Latin. In 2022, Sergio "Metal Priest" Lunático from the technical thrash band Bestial Invasion and the thrash/funk band Lord Erektus formed this band. A deeper analysis of Aztec culture, legend and folklore is included in their EP "The Order of the Jaguar Knights", along with an extension of their previous method.
Cosmic Jaguar is tighter and more aggressive, having more of a prominent guitar sound and some hardcore influence, still retaining the tribal vibes their last album hinted at. In contrast to "Legacy", the songs don't contain as many additional instruments, but the bass is as prominent as the guitars, which is important when conveying their classic thrash elements and marking cadence transitions that often involve velocity changes. With greater emphasis on solid and compact time changes, there’s greater vocal range. Considering there’s a lot more going on with the verses, riffs, harmonies and solos, all this is essential for their desired growth.
Songs like “The Bleeding Tree of Tamoanchan” marks the experimentation Cosmic Jaguar is pursuing, delving into funk and classical metal as well as the expanded vocal range. That the band can write that many radical time changes while keeping their raw aggression consistent makes the track one of the mini-album’s finest moments. The song is as immersive as I mentioned “Legacy” was. I drew a comparison or two to the Japanese avant garde band Sigh when I reviewed it; I heard even stronger shades here.
I’ve been provided with background information from Metal Priest songs, and I ought to share some of it. "The Shorn Ones" describes an elite order of warriors in the Aztec army, known in ancient Nuahtal as the cuauhchicqueh. "The Bleeding Tree of Tamoanchan" describes the Xochitlicacan, also known as the "Flowering Tree," which was an integral part of the earthly paradise of the Tamoanchan. "The Obsidian Mirror" deals with the primary accessory of Tezcatlipoca, the supreme Aztec lord of the night and his creatures. The deity is typically depicted with an obsidian mirror on his chest, in his headdress, or replacing his right foot.
The final track is a cover of "Veil of Maya" by Cynic, who in the course of their career transcended their thrash roots and experimented with progressive death metal/fusion and progressive rock. They wrote "Veil of Maya" when they entered their prog-DM stage on their 1993 album "Focus". It sounded really groundbreaking for an album released in the early 90s. Cosmic Jaguar covered it to pay homage to one of the bands that had a massive influence on them. This made me want to hear more from Cynic after I listened to the original and the cover; the song generally suits the direction Cosmic Jaguar Is taking their own songwriting.
If you'd like to hear thrash with an extremely open-minded vision, I would recommend listening to this EP as well as anything Cosmic Jaguar has released beforehand. –Dave Wolff

Sergio "Metal Priest" Lunático: Vocals, bass
Juan Maestro: Rhythm and lead guitars
Alejo Bárbaro: Drums
Dionisio Oscuro: Session solo guitars (tracks 1,3,4)
Chimalma” Session female vocals (track 4)
V. Zadiev: Guest vocals (track 2)

Track list:
1. The Shorn Ones
2. The Bleeding Tree of Tamoanchan
3. Obsidian Mirror
4. Veil of Maya (Cynic cover)

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