Sound — 8
After about a two-and-a-half year wait due to various record label issues, Ill Nino is back with another record filled with the band's characteristic Latin percussion and straightforward riffs. Enigma marks the band's 4th studio release, and in many ways the band has progressed to a new musical level. You don't get the same metal sound in each of the 13 tracks, and Ill Nino isn't afraid to show off their sensitive side along the way. While Enigma doesn't ever go too far out of the band's comfort zone, each song features multiple layers (apparently close to 100 tracks per song) that show Ill Nino didn't ever skimp on having the best sound possible in the studio. The opening track The Alibi Of Tyrants starts out with the band's trademark Latin percussion, but quickly transitions into a pure rock style after only a few seconds. It's a lively and memorable starting number, but it doesn't necessarily represent the best of what Enigma has to offer. The band usually strikes a solid balance between the Latin and metal influences, but on The Alibi Of Tyrants it would have been great to just have the percussive intro last a little longer. Given the fact that Ill Nino recorded dozens of overdubs per song, it might just be a case where we need to put on headphones to catch all of the musical intricacies on each track. One of the best tracks on the record is Compulsion Of Virus And Fever, which is carried by the strength of guitarist Ahrue Luster's amazing riff work. While you can hear subtle hints of Daniel Couto's percussion in the midst of the track, it's Ahrue that gets the spotlight. Just when you think you have all the riffs and the song in general figured out, Luster takes a surprising turn by playing a solo that feels more like Santana than anything he did during his days in Machine Head. Regardless of whether you think it fits with the rest of Compulsion Of Virus And Fever, Luster executes his parts perfectly. The closing track De Sangre Hermosa features some incredible flamenco-style guitar and it is the perfect way to tie the record up. There are a few acoustic moments on Enigma such as Me Gusta La Soledad, but the band doesn't make a huge impression acoustically until De Sangre Hermosa. The acoustic work on it is extremely impressive, and the guys in Ill Nino should seriously consider tackling an unplugged gig in the future.
Lyrics — 9
The band successfully weaves both the Spanish and English languages together in Enigma, and that unique aspect stands out on its own. While it's not only allowing the band to connect with a much larger audience, for those of us who aren't bilingual, it also peaks one's curiosity. You might need to look up a translation here and there, but that just reinforces the fact that the messages within the songs are being heard. Out of all the tracks, Kellogg's, Bombs, & Cracker Jacks does the best job of fusing the two languages together to relay the band's cynical views on the world today.
Overall Impression — 8
It's evident that Ill Nino goes above and beyond in the studio in terms of layered tracks, and amazingly none of the songs on Enigma ever feel cluttered. The band has a keen sense of musically balanced tracks and the new album is a testament to that talent. While not all of the songs feel completely fresh in terms of all the music that is out on the metal scene, there are more than a few shining moments on Enigma. Estoy Perdido features some beautiful lead work by Luster, while Hot Summer's Tragedy is just an all-around rocking song. Any Ill Nino devotee should be satisfied with the band's latest album, and it's likely the band will attract the attention of plenty more listeners by the time all of the singles are released.