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"Viva la Revolucion!" These words, made famous by Ernesto "Che" Guevara, served as a battle cry for the Latin world in the 1950's and 60's and have continued to permeate our culture today. Perhaps it is fitting then that 40 years later, Ill Nino titled their first album, a combustible blend of Latin rhythms, distorted guitars and Spanish/English lyrics, Revolution, Revolucion. And much like the Guevara, Ill Nino has never been content to rest on their laurels; rather they continue to dig deeper and deeper into their South American roots and create music that is at once intense and soulful, scathing and hopeful, Latin and universal. The product of a lifetime spent between two cultures, The New Jersey sextet's fourth album, Enigma, is their most innovative and powerful to date. Incorporating all of the disparate elements that have made Ill Nino what they are today, Enigma seeks not to blur, but to obliterate the geographic lines that separate us and prove that music is one medium that knows no boundaries.
Formed in Northern New Jersey in 1999 by drummer Dave Chavarri, vocalist Cristian Machado and bassist Laz Pina, Ill Nino quickly made a name for themselves with a unique blend of decidedly American metal fused to a backbone of Latin percussion. An early demo landed in the hands of Roadrunner Records and the band was signed in 2000. Their first album, 2001's Revolution, Revolucion saw the band burst into the worldwide spotlight with the single "What Comes Around" and stints on Ozzfest and the Jagermeister Music Tour along with tours with Linkin Park, Soulfly and Drowning Pool. In 2003 the band released Confession, an album which eased up on the aggression while adding a greater Latin flavor to their sonic stew. The album debuted in the Top 40 and the single "How Can I Live", which was also the lead single from the film Freddy vs. Jason, helped further expand the band's reach both at home and abroad. Tours with Godsmack, Korn and Sevendust ensued, with the band selling nearly 200,000 copies of their sophomore release in the U.S. 2004's DVD Live In The Eye Of The Storm and 2005's One Nation Underground followed, both cementing the band's status as true innovators in the Latin and hard rock genres.
It is Ill Nino's individuality, their willingness to buck trends and to stay true to both their individual and cultural identities, that has allowed them to grow. "I think that we are a Latin band with heavy metal roots and a metal band with a Latin core; we're not just one or the other," explains Chavarri. "We were raised listening to Latin music so to us it's second nature." The duality of Ill Nino's culture clash is fully realized on the appropriately-titled Enigma; an album that is equal parts reinvention and evolution. So perhaps Guevara's words are not the best way to describe Ill Nino's music.