Escualo - Ritual ©2002 Virtual Records
1. Ponte Los Ojos
2. Sanacion (Ultima)
3. Leftaro
4. Botar La Piel
5. Elatroc
6. Aguila Sideral
7. Clon (Uno)
8. Exmaquina
9. Al
10. Ritual (Parte Uno)
11. Azebac
12. Nuevo Ciclo...

If you were ever looking for a South American version of System of a Bungle (or is that Mr. Down?), look no further than Chile's Escualo. Bending orthodox song structure and approach like a politician bending the rules to get bigger bribes, Escualo's debut, Ritual, is a fairly engaging and promising release from this band. Escualo's music is sung entirely in their native tongue, but unless you have some sort of severe language bigotry, that does not stop the enjoyment factor.

The most notable influences for Escualo are, of course, System of a Down and Mr. Bungle. Escualo lacks the immense talent of a Mr. Bungle to truly warp through the entire realm of musical genres in a three minute song (and trust me, that's not a knock against our Chilean boys as they're plenty talented), but they do have the ability to create unusual song structures. Their vocalist makes the occasional Patton-esque mouth clickings and noises, but usually alternates between a hardcore shout and some flat clean singing. The guitarist is fairly deft in his approach, switching from heavy riffing to a variety of lighter, slightly jazzy noodlings. The rhythm section never fails to keep up. The band's drawback are partially in the vocals. Their singer has troubles with holding clean notes and avoiding flatness. With more experience and perhaps some lessons, he could be considerably more effective. The production of the CD also makes it sound like a very well done demo as opposed to a regular release. However, it doesn't detract a whole lot from the music.

Escualo should appeal to anyone looking to graduate from System of a Down into the underground. Their creativity is strong and their ambitions are very well documented on Ritual. Some growth as musicians and experience will no doubt benefit this outfit in the future. Ritual stands a good starting point.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2003

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