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El Era Del Jaguar

Ukraine Country of Origin: Ukraine

El Era Del Jaguar
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Buy on: Bandcamp
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: May 29th, 2024
Genre: Progressive, Technical, Thrash
1. God Of Sun And War
2. Eight Lord Of Lights
3. Solar Logos
4. Ashes In Eyes
5. Obsidian Mirror
6. Decapitated Lunar Goddess
7. The Shorn Ones
8. La Noche Triste

Review by Vladimir on June 25, 2024.

When it comes to contemporary technical or progressive metal stuff, I really try my best to stay away from that as much as possible, because a lot of times I end up hearing albums where everything is flat-out senseless or so uninspiring that it gives me headaches. Sure, technicality is a matter of displaying very complicated but exercised musicality, but most of the time it’s about flexing your muscles as much as possible, so in the end, it’s really up to your interpretation. However, this one will be some sort of an exception, because I was asked and recommended to give this one a try and see what it has to offer. The subject that I am referring to is the technical/progressive thrash metal band from Ukraine called Cosmic Jaguar, which consists of two members from the Ukrainian technical thrash metal band Bestial Invasion, Evgen Vasilyev (aka Juan Maestro) and Sergiy Bondar (aka Sergio Lunático). I’ve been familiar with the works of Sergiy Bondar ever since 2015, as he was best known as Metal Priest or Serg Metal Priest back in those days, due to his blog World of MP, and back then I did actually check out his band Bestial Invasion, but unfortunately, I have not been able to follow along. Considering that he is involved in this new entity that is Cosmic Jaguar, I was actually very optimistic to give it a try, and so I finally did after a while. The topic of this review will be covering the band’s second full-length album El Era Del Jaguar, released on May 29th, 2024, via Soman Records. Without further ado, it’s time to dive into the era of the jaguar.

Cosmic Jaguar strikes hard with the wrath of its ancestors from the first track 'God Of Sun And War', showcasing some tight and intense technical thrash metal with a lot of progression and insane instrumentation, amped up by the screaming vocals of Sergio Lunático. Stylistically, their music takes a lot of queues from highly respectable bands in the same branch, such as Watchtower, Spastic Ink, Atheist, Cynic, Coroner, Spiral Architect and Mekong Delta, with a lot of their elements flowing through the riffs and arrangements of Cosmic Jaguar’s music. Aside from predominant jazz fusion influenced guitar solos and technical guitar riffs, you will also hear tons of slap bass, two-hand tapping or flamenco style playing that Sergio incorporates in his bass lines, odd-tempo drumming, wind instruments by Mazatecpatl and some clean female vocals by Chimalma. Overall, you can easily tell that the album is just packed with a lot of inclusions from every corner, be it musical ideas or various guest appearances such as guitar solos and additional vocals, but it’s important to note that nothing going to waste, because everything here plays some significant role in the band’s sound. As the album progresses, the intensity and heaviness remain constant, maintaining a strong and focused stylistic consistency all the way through, and at times things do manage to get even more insane on a couple of tracks such as 'Obsidian Mirror' and 'The Shorn Ones'. I guess I could easily describe the instrumentation on El Era Del Jaguar as “thrash metal with a musical degree”, because I really feel like these guys know more than a thing or two about musical theory when it comes to their songwriting and playing.

Speaking of songwriting, I think it would be no surprise to say that it is highly dynamic from one track to another, and with all that this album throws at you, it’s pretty much a “one million notes per second” record. Surprisingly enough, even though you can hear plenty of technical thrash metal stuff on this album, it is much more than that, because you can call this borderline technical/progressive death-thrash metal, judging by the vocal style and the more extreme guitar work which transitions throughout the entire album, never holding strictly to one territory. Even though I am not a big fan of technical and progressive metal bands who incorporate such style, I won’t deny that this is objectively speaking very well-thought-out and ambitious work from start to finish, which is also nicely built up with the lyrical themes of Aztec culture and mythology, something that you wouldn’t expect to find nowadays, even among South American metal bands. Considering what Cosmic Jaguar does on the entire El Era Del Jaguar album, it is like a machine that keeps on giving, pretty much spawning riff ideas, solos and wind instruments on songs like a mechanised typewriter. I actually have big respect for the fact that they don’t include female vocals or wind instruments just for good measure, but rather contribute to the general flow of the song, and it’s always highlighted in the right moment without ever ending up overshadowed or ignored later on. As for the production, I can only add that Sergio Lunático did a very good job with the modern high-quality sound of El Era Del Jaguar, where every instrument and vocal work is top-notch in the overall mix.

Personally, I’d say that El Era Del Jaguar is a very ambitious and complex work which is layered with various ideas that altogether make a pretty rich sound. Judging from what I have heard on this album, I guess it’s safe to say that overall work of Cosmic Jaguar is all about keeping things as tight and precise as possible, leaving no room for anything weak or uninspiring. You can probably tell that I generally don’t really fancy technical metal albums, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy or appreciate such works from time to time. If you are into bands like Cynic, Spastic Ink and Watchtower, I suggest that you take a look at Cosmic Jaguar’s discography and make sure not to miss out on the latest entry that is El Era Del Jaguar.

Rating: 8 out of 10


Review by Greg on June 25, 2024.

Just a year after The Legacy Of The Aztecs came out of nowhere with its psychotic concoction of progressive thrash and Mesoamerican history, Cosmic Jaguar didn't give the world enough time to let that sink in and were already confident enough to release a sequel, the brand-new El Era Del Jaguar. But if you were afraid of Metal Priest/Sergio Lunático's trying his hand at Spanish from the album title (and as far as I can tell there's at least a typo in it so you'd be right to do so), you can rest assured it isn't the case. Yet, despite the rather short time in the making, we're dealing with a totally different beast this time.

I already mentioned Atheist with regards to Cosmic Jaguar's sound, and the more and more space dedicated to jazzy interludes will logically make "Unquestionable Presence" spring to the minds of many, but I'll be the one to differ and say I also hear a lot of Sadus, especially "A Vision Of Misery", in addition to that. Part of that can also be traced back to Sergio's venomous middle register, now closer to Darren Travis around that era. The historical lyrics are still difficult to discern without a lyrics sheet under your eye, but I'm digging his performance here, also on the ever-present bass. The guitars were sharpened, and a quick peek at the list of numerous guests might be an explanation, seeing the names of Sadist's Tommy Talamanca, Blind Illusion's Marc Biedermann, even the reunited Vendetta duo of Micky and Daxx, all appearing alongside the Bestial Invasion core. Couple that with a drummer change as well, to give those extra bpms the debut often lacked, and I don't think the premises could have been better than these.

In any case, the biggest progress was made with the songwriting. Even the refrains alone are a clear showcase, still consisting of the same repetitive formula, but working a lot better on this landscape, like 'Solar Logos' or 'The Shorn Ones', to name two, might confirm – the former enriched with a spot-on lead melody, while the latter conveys an imponent-sounding feeling that's hard to explain. And if the jazzy first song is surely nothing to scoff at, but doesn't paint the full picture either (not least due to its mindless shredding at the end), the rest is almost a truly killer-after-killer experience. Once again, the middle part of the album is where Cosmic Jaguar manage to gather their best moments. A standout track is no doubt 'Ashes In Eyes', where the returning female vocals are embedded in a more interesting way, intertwined as a nice contrast with the faster parts. I hesitate to define her voice as 'celestial', but only because I was considering reserving that adjective for Denis Shvarts' leads all over the whole song – smooth, almost relaxing in the slower sections. However uncomfortable you might be right now after hearing these occasionally softer detours, fear not as 'Obsidian Mirror' and 'Decapitated Lunar Goddess' are conversely the most barbaric, ready to mercilessly wipe them away in a flurry of blasting drums, amazing soloing, and menacing shrieks. I can't say I was the biggest fan of the spoken parts of closer 'La Noche Triste', although I understand they were going for a more dramatic effect to go alongside the story being told.

El Era Del Jaguar might not be the kind of album you listen to day and night, but it's simply stunning nonetheless. It's the kind of second album that improves basically everything the debut offered, and that alone is a win in my book, but also the lunatic blend of ferocious thrash metal, progressive tropes, female vocals, exotic themes, and wind instruments remains pretty much unique to my ears. I still don't understand the rationale behind such a project in Ukraine, but if that's the kind of stuff they're able to put out, you can bet I'm not complaining.

Rating: 8.7 out of 10