Album Review: “Uno” by Metalachi
Recently I received a CD in the mail from a friend for my birthday by a group called Metalachi. I was initially very perplexed regarding the concept of the group, as it is metal songs done in a strict Mariachi arrangement. As a metal fan, I wondered how the group would interpret such classics as Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and Ronnie James Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark.” The ethnomusicologist in me also wondered how the spirit of mariachi, of which I have studied extensively, could remain intact using songs that are entirely in English and have non-Mexican cultural origins. I remained intrigued though as a blogger, for I have advocated for musical fusion in numerous posts here at MixolydianBlog.
The band has been featured in American media outlets such as NPR, so they aren’t an unknown group by any means. Just looking at the album Uno’s photography one can tell that the guys in this band are serious about portraying a specific persona that blends the theatrical aspects of metal with the time-honored traditions of mariachi. Uno is an 8-track journey through some of the greatest metal anthems ever written (with the exception of a song by grunge band Alice in Chains), from Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills (in which the vocalist of Metalachi, Vega De La Rockha impressively handles Bruce Dickinson’s high notes), to Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine (which Metalachi gives a far better treatment than Sheryl Crow ever did…don’t get me started on her version). Each song retains the melodic structure and attitude of the original, while simultaneously infusing an entirely different musical perspective. The songs bleed the cultural identity of the band while still maintaining the biting aggression of the songs metal fans have come to adore.
The band has mastered their instruments, whether they are string, brass, or voice, and it shows. By the time the album has finished, you really grasp that Metalachi has poured their heart and soul into crafting their unique sound. They claim to be the only metal/mariachi fusion band, and I believe it. It is a very bold thing to take two styles that are beloved by millions and attempt to blend them. Music history has produced countless examples of such attempts failing commercially and critically. The band Metalachi and their body of work could draw battle lines among both metal and mariachi fans, but I say to both to give them a chance.
I grew up my entire life listening to metal, loving every guitar solo and lyric with my heart and soul, so I ask for you the reader to give Metalachi a chance. I recommend it, if nothing else, to challenge your perception of what music is and how it can function in society. Rock on.
(Metalachi can be found at www.metalachi.com )