Last of the Juanitas CD review [Wantage]

Music Reviews
Last of the Juanitas CD review [Wantage]
Mar 9, 2005, 00:30


Last of the Juanitas combine a bunch of my favorite stuff into one wicked, raging amalgam that I'm compelled to LOVE. The basic elements involved ain't usually aligned with each other so there's a welcome element of surprise, and surprisingly, they wind up complementing each other quite perfectly.

First off it's HEAVY in the best sense: dense, lowering, massive. The sound is anchored by deep bass guitar that's mixed to the fore and bolstered by down-tuned six-string, several of 'em in fact to create considerable maximum heft. More importantly, this is all contoured via the contracted snippets of blues lickery that's always been the heart of the best metal—BUT THEN the prodigious riffing gives way to more sophisticated composing prerogatives, unexpected key modulations or out-and-out avant-guitar freakings. Moreover, some layers of guitar-muck boast Branca-style alternate tunings to boot lending it a vast, resonant, chiming quality. This adds transparency to an otherwise monolithic sonic assault. Throughout the vocals are a nice mix of shouty, popped-up lad and lady voxings—eschewing the bellyache grunting that too many metallers default to.  This further nudged the sum total of their aesthetic into a realm all its own.

It's easy enough to dissect the ingredients but LOTJ's selectivity and clever juxtapositions cannily emphasize their respective strong points and neatly compensate for their shortcomings. For instance just at the point when a pounding, lead line will become too much of a good thing, a song will shift into a leftfield chord change and lighter, more amorphous guitar voicing, and introduce nicely sarcastic singing.  Then, at the point where the smartiness would verge on the obnoxious, serious heaviness comes clomping down all over again.  It's really, REALLY perfect! [Wantage USA]

-Howard Wuelfing

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