Brujeria (pronounced broo-HAIR-eeya, translation: witchcraft) is a band my DJ colleagues and I used to spin on college radio in the ’90s. During the station’s 2 a.m. death metal program, sharing Brujeria—especially Spanish-language tracks from their grinding debut record Matando Güeros (translation: killing white people)—on airwaves was like playing with a Ouija board in public. It was fun and a bit frightening.
There was hardly the internet then, so Brujeria’s faxed press releases were taken at face value. It was assumed the bandana-masked band was a gang of devil-worshipping Mexican drug lords with a penchant for extreme music.
“We always wanted to sound evil, to be funny with a touch of cosa malas, or bad things. We’re intended for those with a twisted sense of humor.”- Juan Brujo of Brujeria
“You can’t get away with that now,” frontman Juan Brujo laughs. “Maintaining the mystery would be too difficult.”
In the nearly 30 years since Brujeria began blasting eardrums, the secrecy somewhat dissipated. It was established that the band is Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares’ side project. Still, Brujeria continues to lyrically fuse drugs, sexual violence, Satanism, and undocumented migration into a haunting, dark globalist and wickedly comical vision of America.
“That’s what we meant to do from the start,” Brujo says. “We always wanted to sound evil, to be funny with a touch of cosa malas, or bad things. We’re intended for those with a twisted sense of humor.”
The band incorporates these elements into their live shows, which Brujo says are all about having fun and entertaining the audience. (The band plays October 20 at the Las Vegas Country Saloon.)
“When you see us live, you’ll understand it’s not so ‘death metal.’ We act out the songs and don’t leave you tired or bummed out. People come out of our shows fired up and full of energy.”
That humor is also on display in the band’s fourth album Pocho Aztlan, released September 16. The new album is packed with aggressive, hilarious tracks, including “Isla de Fantasia,” which on the surface is an ode to the classic ’70s TV show “Fantasy Island”—only with tons of drugs and violence and a little reality thrown in.
“Yeah, that’s a great show from back in the day,” Brujo says. “We know these Harvard law school guys who go on fishing trips in Florida with financiers. Once, they were all in a boat, and suddenly a plane shows up and drops a huge package of cocaine in the water. The song’s based on a true story.”
Another eerie track is “Satongo,” tells the tale of a monster that is part human, part fungus and all satanic. The character will be in a comic book the band is working on.
“Our bass player is named Hongo (translation: mushroom). He has a rep for getting drunk and causing havoc, so his name evolved into Satongo.”
And of course, Donald Trump made himself an easy Brujeria target. A pummeling and satirical single that preceded Pocho Aztlan by mere weeks, “Viva Presidente Trump!,” kicks off with a Trump sound-alike professing his distaste of Mexican “garbage” flooding our country and boasts of building a wall. Backed by chupacabra-shredding drums and machete-sharp guitar riffs, Brujo barges in with his bellowing presence, longing for a Trump presidency so a full-scale war can erupt. The conflict will culminate with Brujeria bringing a tied-up Trump to the doorstep of cartel celebrity El Chapo.
“Our buddy Trump loves the Mexican people, no?” Brujo jokes. “We want him to win. We’re not the taking easy way out. We’re up for the challenge, though he cut his own throat with his comments about women.”
So is Brujeria making any predictions on the U.S. Presidential election?
“Given the choice, we predict the American people are the big loser. At least if Trump wins, we’ll have fun.” Brujo later corrects with a cackle, “When he wins, we’ll go right back into the studio in December.”
Brujeria with Cattle Decapitation, Piñata Protest, Nebula X, and Mynas at LVCS (425 Fremont St.), Oct. 20, 8 p.m., $15, 702-382-3849, LVCountrySaloon.net.