One could postulate that ILL NIÑO has been doing something right for the last 12 years, depending on how one defines "right." Though they've struggled with declining record sales and a bout of member defections in the early part of this decade, the Latin groove 'n croon metallers have basically stuck to their guns, churning out a style once referred to as "nu" in nature and still filling the bellies of those hungry for LINKIN PARK vocal polish to go with all the tribal-esque SOULFLY chunka-chunk. We'll see what the future holds for the group after the official release of "Dead New World" on new home Victory. Any successes subsequent to the release will most likely be attributable to a stable base of supporters, since "Dead New World" is not destined to win ILL NIÑO any new fans.
In all fairness, there seems to still be a sizeable audience for albums like "Dead New World", regardless of what some purists and metal heads would consider death by sugar pill aspiration. Tough grooving does abound and at least a handful of the choruses are fairly infectious; namely, "God is only for the Dead", "The Art of War", "Serve the Grave", and "Scarred". It is on a song like "Scarred", in fact, where ILL NIÑO succeeds with its now familiar mix of elements; tribal percussion, SOULFLY power grooves and Cavalera vocal aggression, clean singing that rises above the din with a purpose, and an acoustic flourish to spice up the dish. The acoustic coloration works well in several places actually, especially on "Killing Me, Killing You", a track that also includes a flaming segment of Flamenco guitar. Unfortunately, it is not enough to save a track like "How Could I Believe" and several other cuts on which the Cristian Machado's croon and patterns are much too generic and on "Ritual", "If You Were Me" and "Bleed Like You" irksomely bland. As for the cover of SMASHING PUMPKINS' "Bullet with Butterfly Wings", moderate amusement, if that, is about all you should expect.
The most glaring problem is that the clean singing is often not powerful/passionate enough nor the choruses catchy enough to serve as an effective pairing with the more convincing aggressive parts. A few more songs like "Mi Revolucion" and the above mentioned "Scarred" would have made a noticeable difference, at least for those listeners that can only stomach so much of the formula gloss. Even then "Dead New World" won't change anyone's mind about ILL NIÑO; a middle ground was never really in the cards anyway.