For a band whose name translates from the Spanish as New Order, this album looks backwards far more than forwards. It's heavy metal without anything extreme layered over the top, and it has a clean production that makes it easy to track any instrument we like, the distortion-free bass being especially audible. It's also very much a child of the eighties and nineties, but not in the way that I usually tend to mean. It doesn't feel like a throwback and that production makes it very clear that it's new, even if the drums are far less prominent than they would usually be nowadays. Nobody's going to mistake this album for one that fell through a time portal from 1985.
It also doesn't sound like anybody in particular, though it sometimes sounds like a lot of bands all at once and the constant little reminders arrive like a barrage that kept me out of the moment. It took a while for me to adjust to actually hearing new songs by Nuevo Orden instead of these hints and snippets and glimpses of older material by other bands. Once I got there, I dug this a lot. It's a good album. It's just weirdly reminiscent for something that never sounds derivative.
I think that means that the influences are in the details and the originality of the band is in their unique way of putting all those building blocks together. For instance, Rehenes kicks off the album with a brief drum intro not unlike something Cozy Powell might have thrown into a Rainbow song, placing us immediately in the seventies. But then the guitars and bass kick in and we're in a power metal song, part Crimson Glory and part Metal Church. There's Guns n' Roses in the guitar tone in the first instrumental break. The chorus feels like thrash metal slowed down to heavy metal speed, with Cliff Burton-esque solo bass moments. The guitar solo is reminiscent of restrained Steve Vai. And the vocals don't sound like any of the bands above.
Nuevo Orden shift through these influences like they're going out of style. Cerbero begins like an epic Helloween track, shifts into Dream Theater and Iron Maiden and even moments of Primus, all without ever leaving a traditional heavy metal sound. Once more, the solo could easily have been included on an instrumental guitar album. Mar de absolución opens as European power metal but shifts into Japanese heavy metal. Brian Alfonso sings it in Spanish, as he does throughout, but it's weirdly reminiscent of someone like Loudness or Vow Wow on this track. And so it goes, more and more moments taking me to old directions that seem to change every time.
It's not just because I gradually got used to this that the album gets better as it runs on. I'd say the songs get better too. Heredero de la desolación opens like a cover of a Metallica song that I never heard before. Carroñero is another thrash song slowed down to heavy metal speed, this time like Megadeth would have done it but without Dave Mustaine's sneer. Even with the slowed pace, it's able to maintain the urgency of thrash intact and the solo is faster and more furious. It makes the result more powerful to my thinking and it's probably my favourite song here, even with Grito del viento after it kicking off with a characterful opening indeed and some excellent and patient riffing.
And, of course, just because I feel like I've come to understand what Nuevo Orden are doing here, they end the album with an almost nine minute track that itself wraps up with a minute and a half of solo piano. They certainly like to keep us on the hop.
I like this band, which Alfonso formed back in 2015. Others joined in 2016, including Andrés Sena on bass and Fabián Sabaté on drums, though Damián Montes de Oca replaced Joaquin Silva in 2018. They put out an EP in 2019 and a couple of singles from this debut album last year, oddly including that nine minute closer, En la tempestad, albeit in the form of a six and a half minute radio edit. While I like Alfonso's voice, because it does exactly what it needs to without ever sounding like he copied the style from anyone else, I like his guitarwork more.
Everything here comes back to the guitars for me, which sound so clean compared to a lot of what I've been listening to lately. Alfonso does double duty, but Montes de Oca only plays guitar. I don't know who plays lead and who plays rhythm, or whether they switch, but the guitars are definitely the highlight of the album to me. Every solo is solid, with some far more ambitious than others. It feels like they tailor the solo to the song, which seems like a gimme, but many bands clearly tailor the song to the solo or just don't even bother. The more I hear these guitars, the more I like them.
Now, let's see what they come up with for a follow-up. I'm paying attention.