With this much headfuckery ahoy, I usually find it best to ditch the PR and plough on. In the case of this very idiosyncratic group from Mexico, mostly because somewhere someone mentioned death metal, and it ain’t even ball park close. Actually if this was the Guardian’s music pages we’d probably be describing this as ‘fusion’. Kind of a modern metal son of Santana. Jazz, Latin, metal… Er, you might want to step aside there if you’re just thinking about it ‘cos there’s a bunch of Ephel Duath fans about to trample you.
Actually Ephel Duath fans might want to give this a go. As might fans of System Of A Down, John Zorn circa Naked City or Fleurety. And of course Diablo Swing Orchestra aficionados, particularly if Pandora’s Pinata is their favourite. The latter is the most obvious handle to grab for here as it has the same exuberance for chucking the brass section sink in to the scampering Latin rhythms and spreading a healthy dose of sharp edged riffing across it. OK second to last track Vallarta Nights is all a bit ‘afternoon lounge music in a dive’ but it’s kinda fun.
Anyway they have done one previous full length and an EP, and this is kind of a re-release from 2012, so they should have got things nailed as far as direction goes. So… For the first few moments of the opener “Treason, Politics and Death” you might think we’re heading to early SOAD territory and certainly this and most of the album seems fairly serious in tone. But the rhythm section, whipping up a fantastic Latin speed jazz sound (!), the straight metal guitar and the beautiful and occasionally laid back brass sound is deep into DSO energy and style wise but, dammit, actually better. Deceive The Pain, next, adds some gorgeous, driving Zorn-esque guitar jazz; sometimes ripping, sometimes quiet and plucking rich tones, a saxophone break that rises up through a noisy guitar and riff and the half spoken, half barked kinda hardcore vocals spilling some good lyrics and all ending in a fine emotional collision of metal and Latin.
The best thing about Acrania’s sound is that it sounds like they haven’t thought about it much; it has that feel that the respective members just kinda plugged in one day and jammed until the sound stuck. OK you will have to have time for jazz for this album, and also understand how the kind of samba rhythms fit so superbly with the metal guitar but if you do this is a bright, energetic album. Very much a pinata you hit until all the candy flies all over the place. And you will not hear a better trumpet break than on the closing song In My Land. Hand on heart this should be a certainty for DSO fans unless they get all uppity and claim it’s too close. It isn’t. Much as I love the Diablo Swing Orchestra myself, Acrania are more direct, more jazzy and more sane. OK the last is relative. But honestly give these Mexicans a shot and they should at least dance your feet to painful stumps. I wanna see a mosh pit suddenly break into couples for a quick samba and then back to the nose breaking.
Best Latin speed jazz metal hardcore album of the year. Marvellous.