Disappointment is a fact of life. Disappointment comes in many forms. Disappointment comes from people, places, and things. Disappointment is that unpleasant intersection between expectations and reality. It is at this crossroads that music enters in to the scene. How many times have you pushed play expecting one thing and getting another? Sometimes it is not even the sophomore slump that gets us. Many times, an established and possibly favorite band does it to us. All That Remains – “A War You Cannot Win”, Cinderella – “Heartbreak Station”, Megadeth – “Supercollider”, any Queensryche record with Geoff Tate from the last decade, I am sure all of us could compile quite a list. Today, unfortunately, I will add Ill Niño and their latest, “Till Death, La Familia,” released on Victory Records July 22, 2014, to that list.
Ill Niño is not a band that I follow religiously, but have always been on my radar. I have paid attention to them since I first heard ‘Unreal’ from their debut album “Revolution – Revolución” back in 2001. Ill Niño’s brand of Latin-infused metal has always been one of the better models in the genre. On “Till Death, La Familia” we find Ill Niño trying to expand their sound by adding keyboards and synths to the mix. Opening track ‘Live Like There’s No Tomorrow’ greats you with keyboards resembling something from an In Flames record. Then Ill Niño kicks in; Cristian Machado’s signature vocals, Dave Chavarri’s superb drumming with Daniel Couto’s auxiliary percussion laced in, you know, the usual. The song has great hook and is quite catchy, too bad it will probably never make it to radio with the constant refrain of “Let’s get high like we don’t give a fuck!” Upon listening to the rest of the album, between the terrible Scarface movie poster rip off album cover and the lyrical content, I am guessing that it is some sort of concept album about being a young street gang member.
Ill Niño has had a string of albums; some better than others, but all uniquely Ill Niño. Overall, “Till Death, La Familia” is not a terrible album. I guess I am just not sure what Ill Niño is trying to accomplish with it. With the introduction of keyboards, more clean vocals, and the gang member motif of the album, it sounds like they are trying to appeal to a new demographic. Unfortunately, it is the one that needs to be on Beyond Scared Straight.