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Brujeria – Raza Odiada

15 years ago yesterday, a mysterious CD hits the racks. The band is called Brujeria, and the album is called Raza Odiada. Supposedly Brujeria are Mexican drug lords who rarely play live.  If they do, they hide their identities with masks. No one really accepts that story; drug lords would be able to afford better production. But before the Internet, information travels slowly. Rumors fly as to who Brujeria really are. Supposedly members of Fear Factory and Faith No More are involved. Maybe Carcass, maybe Napalm Death, too. The uncertainty is a fun fantasy to indulge.

15 years later, fantasy has become reality. Brujeria unwittingly have become the most topical death metal band today. Let’s forget their first album, Matando Güeros, whose cover of a decapitated head was more dangerous than its second-rate death metal. Let’s also forget their third (and most recent) album, Brujerizmo, which came out at the peak of nu-metal in 2000, and sounded like it. Instead, let’s focus on their second record, Raza Odiada, whose grungy, grinding riffs remind me, oddly enough, of the band 16.

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Pete Wilson’s campaign ad on illegal immigration

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“Raza Odiada” means “hated race”. It’s the album’s opening track, with a provocative subtitle: “Pito Wilson”. In 1994, Pete Wilson won California’s gubernatorial election largely due to his support of Proposition 187, a predecessor to Arizona’s controversial anti-illegal immigration law. You can see his campaign ad above. “Raza Odiada (Pito Wilson)” begins with a skit in which Wilson, spoofed by Jello Biafra, is gunned down by Mexicans. (See English translations of the album’s Spanish language lyrics here.)

“Raza Odiada (Pito Wilson)”

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Incidentally, Biafra and Wilson had sort of crossed paths two years earlier in “California Über Alles”, a hip-hop cover by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy that updated the Dead Kennedys’ song (originally about Governor Jerry Brown). Also, incidentally, the conservative faction of California’s Republican Party tried (and failed) last week to pass a resolution endorsing Arizona’s law and Proposition 187. Finally, incidentally, Wilson is the campaign manager for the current Republican gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman – who has said she opposes Proposition 187. She and California’s Republican apparatus are strongly courting the Latino vote in this race. Will it work? Would they hire Brujeria to play their victory party?

In that unlikely event, Brujeria would be even more unlikely to play “La Migra (Cruza La Frontera II)” (“Border Patrol (Crossing the Border II)”). “La migra” is slang for the US Border Patrol. According to the song, they will “beat you hard” and “f*** your ass”. (This album has mucho un-polite Spanish language.) You can see the video, complete with English subtitles, for this ode to the border wars here (no embedding possible).

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CD traycard back

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In “La Migra (Cruza La Fontera II)”, El Brujo is a helpful guide for border crossings. In “La Ley De Plomo” (“The Law of Lead”), he is a thug not to be crossed. (See lyrics here.) If he were a real person, he might post on Blog del Narco, the “official” blog of the Mexican drug wars. An anonymous student set up the blog earlier this year; now it gets millions of hits monthly. He lets both drug lords and law enforcement post on the blog, which has featured content like decapitations, executions and muchos corpses. (See story here.) Incidentally, in the song’s lyrics, “cuernos de chivo” is slang for AK-47s. It means “goat’s horns” – very metal. You can see the video for the song below. It’s obvious that Dino Cazares and Raymond Herrera are the guitarist and drummer, respectively. The rawness of their playing may be a shock to those accustomed to the slickness of Fear Factory. (See also the surprisingly gritty Concrete, Fear Factory’s first album before they made it big).

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“La Ley De Plomo”

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Their label (Roadrunner) might not know it, their fans (are there any left?) might not know it, and they themselves might not even know it – but Brujeria are as relevant as ever. They were the soundtrack for tensions that were as pitched then as they are today. Nada cambiará.

— Cosmo Lee

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Amazon (MP3)

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