What should I review after something as deep and immersive as Neptunian Maximalism? How about a thrash album from Brazil, especially one that gets wacky enough to cover something as deeply uncool and safe as Starship's We Built This City to wrap it all up? Yeah, I'll go with Juggernaut's third album, their first in a decade and only their third since they got together in 2005. By the way, We Built This City doesn't work like this, though it does work much better than many of the other thrash covers of pop songs I've been hearing lately. I can't fault them for being ambitious!
Fortunately, the rest of it is much better and there's half an hour or so of original music before we get to the cover. Juggernaut play their thrash fast and vicious with a Teutonic flavour to it that goes well beyond Cicero's raspy voice and heavily accented English. Célio Jr.'s riffs and guitar tone remind very much of Destruction, though there's perhaps inevitably some old Sepultura here too. It seems clear to me that they've been paying a lot more attention to German bands than American ones and I'll never see that as a bad thing. It tends to leave a more evil feel to proceedings and it does that here.
It also means that Célio Jr. plays in a technical style, without ever seeming to show off. Hollow Surface may feature the most dominant guitar I've heard in a long while that isn't soloing. His riffs are always rooted in melody and they're full of those patented Destruction flourishes. Also, just like Schmier, the bass of Fabrício Duwe [edit: Célio tells me that the bass here is by Valda, who kept that role from 2009-2020, but left the band after the album was finished] is audible and easily trackable throughout the album and there are moments to shine for him; he's very obvious on Man of a Thousand Faces, for a start. Alefer Reinert completes the line-up behind a very reliable drum kit. However fast he gets, it always feels comfortable, suggesting a ramp up from crazy fast to crazier fast wouldn't be a problem for him.
While the album title is in Portuguese, Cicero sings in English throughout, though I didn't catch too many of the lyrics. From the titles, it looks like they follow the usual social commentary approach for thrash; nothing stood out for me except the title of the opener, which in Cicero's accented English is more like Terror Isis Squid than Terror Isis Squad, giving it a surreal nature. No doubt it'll turn into a new Alestorm album title! There is an exception, the title track, delivered in the band's native tongue of Portuguese [edit: Célio tells me it's in both Portugese and Spanish]. Apparently, the band have never done that before and have wanted to for a long time. It works well for me and it certainly feels a little more natural for them.
The most obvious downside to this album is that the seven original tracks all unfold in the same style with similar success. I might favour Puppets of Society and Hollow Surface right now, but I might shift my favour to Man of a Thousand Faces and La Bestia on another listen. Consistency is never a negative but it doesn't have to preclude variety and there's not a lot of that here.
Of course, the most obvious upside to this album is that all seven of those tracks are delivered with a passion and energy that's infectious, even through speakers on my desk. I'd love to see these guys live to see how crazy their pit gets. Given that Blumenau apparently celebrates Oktoberfest and features a Beer Museum (now I get the German connection!), even though it's in southern Brazil, halfway up the coast from Porto Alegre to São Paulo, I'd guess that the fans tend to knock a few back and then hit the pit to burn off their energy. I'm sure it's a heck of a show.
I liked this a lot, but it apparently took COVID-19 to force Juggernaut into the studio to record their third album; I haven't heard the previous two—though I'll be searching them out now—but they say that the production and technical quality has improved since then. I just hope that it doesn't require another global catastrophe to get them back into the studio again in a couple of years time. I may be a little premature but I want to hear more from this band.