Los Natas and the New Order

Praise the new order.It’s vaguely correct to call El Nuevo Orden de la Libertad, the new album by Argentina free rockers Los Natas a return to form. Their third offering for Small Stone, it sees a resurgence of the kind of catchy desert riffing that permeated early works like 1999’s Ciudad de Brahman and their classic 1996 debut, Delmar (both albums were on Man’s Ruin), but if a decade has passed since those days, it has brought changes with it that manifest themselves, as ever, unexpectedly on this striking new collection of songs.

Los Natas is not a young band anymore. Depending on whether you count the likes of Unreleased Dopes and M?nchen Sessions as separate full-lengths, El Nuevo Orden de la Libertad marks upwards of nine LPs over the course of a 16-year existence that has also brought forth numerous EPs, 7″s and splits with the likes of Dragonauta, Viaje a 800 and most recently Solodolor. Their creativity is unbridled on this newest album, but it’s also tempered with a maturity presenting itself in tighter songcraft than on their last studio offering, 2006’s El Hombre Monta?a.

Beginning with somber notes that symmetrically reappear at the album’s close, “Las Campanadas” is a straightforward, guitar-led riff rocker with an insistent rhythm and confident vocal delivery from guitarist Sergio Ch. The music is aggressive — you can hear it on Walter Broide‘s punkish (or Slayerish, depending on the context you want to give it) ping ride abuse at 2:54 — but the anger is never the central focus of the song. Maybe that’s because I don’t speak the language, but taking the vocals and the music together as one piece, they balance each other out and, structurally, strike as purposeful and not over the top.

The title track follows and delivers the catchiest chorus of the record; the kind that has you (me) waking up at night to go to the bathroom and singing it to yourself (myself) while you (I) do. It’s here that Los Natas sound most like they’re making a political statement, a rallying cry to anyone listening. “Resistiendo al Dolor” provides a moment of atmospheric respite before launching into its own rhythmic desert punk led by frantic lead work from Sergio and underscored by the fuzz-laden bass of Gonzalo Villagra. If everything before hadn’t also been an album highlight, it certainly would be.Portrait of the trio rocking out.

“Hombre de Metal” works at a slower pace, dragging Sabbath through the sand, while “Ganar-Perder” takes a Western guitar line and incorporates Latin influences while bringing them into the context of the Los Natas sound. The acoustics that launch “Noviembre” serve as an effective break from the heaviness around and demonstrate the growth in songwriting that has taken place over the band’s career. Where on Delmar, that might be a spacious jam, on El Nuevo Orden de la Libertad, it is a tightly delivered intro serving a specific purpose. The darkness of the song itself gives way to more chaos on the instrumental “David y Goliath,” on which Broide gives what might be his best performance of the record, and “Bienvenidos,” another acoustic interlude, sets a contemplative tone for the album’s finish.

“10.000,” which is effectively the last song on El Nuevo Orden de la Libertad, is an apocalyptic culmination of flowingly raucous desertry. If they’re unhinged anywhere, it’s here. But they’re not, and that’s perhaps the scariest part of the song and what makes it hit even harder. Los Natas know exactly what they’re doing and they’re doing it with frightening efficiency. Another memorable, punishing riff sees the track into its fadeout and “Dos Horses” brings back the notes from the “Las Camapanadas” intro and expands them into a piano-infused instrumental piece that presents subtly psychedelic images of riding horseback across a sun-setting desert. Those boots may not be comfortable, but the song sure is.

I won’t say this is the greatest work Los Natas has ever done. Each of their albums has too much personality and too much of a separate appeal apart from the others to be granted such hyperbole. The fact, however, is that El Nuevo Orden de la Libertad puts you exactly where it wants you for every minute of its run time. It boasts the most together-sounding performances the band has ever put to tape and is easily the best record I’ve heard so far this year.

They're looking up at my review. Oh gosh, I hope I gushed enough. What if I didn't gush enough?

Los Natas on MySpace

Small Stone Recordings

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