Cosmic Jaguar

Album Title: 
The Order Of The Jaguar Knights
Release Date: 
Friday, October 13, 2023
Review Type: 

I wouldn’t define this Ukrainian band like just a side-project of Bestial Invasion, yet fact is that the (original) members are (were) involved with that well-known Sumy-based act (relocated to Zhytomyr in the meantime). The trio started under the Cosmic Jaguar moniker in 2022 and released their first full-length The Legacy Of The Aztecs in early 2023 via Thrash / Speed / Heavy / True Metal label Metal Warrior Records (also home to Bestial Invasion).

On October 13th, the trio (in the meantime, there has been one line-up change, i.e. a new drummer) self-released a successor of their debut, i.e. the four-tracker The Order Of The Jaguar Knights. In the vein of the debut, this one deals with the ancient Aztec culture and mythology once more. The four pieces clock almost nineteen minutes, including a cover-track by Cynic (which I will come back to immediately).

Everything was recorded during Summer 2023 at the Nuts4all Studio (located in Zaporizhzhia, you know, currently mentioned in different broadcasts / journals / news because of Russia’s ‘special military operation’) and produced by the band’s vocalist and bassist Sergio. It comes with interesting cover artwork, which shows a terrifying yet characteristic Aztec-originated visual, smoothly yet interestingly drenched in hints of blood-colored red spots, referring to the harsh, violent nature of this ancient civilization.

The band brings a very complex, inventive and high-tech form of Death / Thrash Metal, which reminds me of Pestilence (opener The Shorn Ones could have been written by these Dutchmen during the very early nineties) or Atheist especially. Their progressive material is strongly guitar-oriented, with lightning-fast avantgarde lead- and solo-work as spine. Yet the whole package is of importance. The rhythm section supports the leading parts with excellence and finesse. The drums rumble and push (at the beginning of The Bleeding Tree Of Tamoanchan (°), for example, that percussion-based introduction just overwhelms and bewitches), the basses add the elegance of funky, jazzy and groovy moments, the rhythm guitars surround the whole party with craftsmanship and joy at the very same time. The varied vocals too are remarkable: growling and grunting, then again shouting, breathing, spitting.

[(°) mind that fusion effect at about half of the track, which gives a certain tropical beach-like sense]

The constructions are multifold in diversity, permanently evolving and morphing. At the one hand, you have the well-balanced overload of changes in structure and constitution, at the other the immense variety in tempo, with up-tempo parts co-acting organically with blasting excerpts at the one hand, or rather mid-tempo-oriented fragments at the other hand. Yet despite the huge scala of distinct textures and alternating tempos, the whole does sound uniquely one-directional (not just like an exaggerated amalgam of eccentric experimentation). Even the classically-skilled female voices in the Cynic-cover Veil Of Maya (a guest-performance by Chimalma, also active under the moniker Regina as session / guest vocalist in related acts Bestial Invasion or Lord Erektus, by the way) do fit smoothly to this intricate material. Further on, there are some very limited yet characteristic elements from native Aztec-like Music (cf. the chants somewhere at the beginning of The Shorn Ones)

PS: this EP will be released in early 2024 via French label Soman Records on compact-disc as part of a split with The Luxembourg-based Thrash-quartet Fusion Bomb