Dec 28, 2010

For much of its twenty-plus years of existence, Aztlan Underground has made a point of wreaking havoc on the sensibilities of those who prefer their music to fit into clearly outlined cubbyholes. Over the years, they’ve managed to dip their toes into virtually every pond there is to do so—how many bands can you name off the top of your head that would fit perfectly on a bill with Slayer, Public Enemy, John Zorn, Crass, Rage Against the Machine, Swans, and the meanest hardcore band you can think of without anyone blinking an eye?—and this latest only reinforces their standing as one of the most challenging, creative, and unique bands to grace Los Angeles’ underground. Each song here is not so much music as an aural landscape ravaged by tsunami-sized waves of sonic virulence, with quieter passages only serving as a brief respite before the next surge comes crashing down. Within each, one can find indigenous music, hip hop, jazz, hardcore punk, spoken word, metal, electronica, you name it, mixed into a heady mélange and married to lyrics addressing the protection of the earth and indigenous cultures, and ensuring the disastrous mistakes United States government continues to repeatedly make and the resulting atrocities are not so easily hidden away by those who place greed over the planet’s continued existence. This self-titled release is the perfect culmination of the band’s distinctive approach—so intelligent, intricate, heavy and angry—that in the end the listener feels like he’s been spent forty rounds taped to a heavyweight boxer’s glove as he pummels a dynamite factory, yet is infused with enough hope that the whole endeavor doesn’t end up mired in misery. The best of 2010? Well, that kinda stuff is relative to whoever’s doing the picking, but I’m personally at a loss to come up with something that can top this. They remain, in my humble estimation, the real deal.

 –jimmy (