Playlist

--Laura Bond

Puya
Fundamental
(MCA)

What the world needs now is...a band whose songs cross rap metal and funky Latin pop into the craziest fusion since beer and tomato juice. This Puerto Rican outfit (scheduled to perform at Fiddler's Green on Tuesday, July 27, with Iron Maiden) is so energetic that the first few tunes are both clumsy and exciting. Sometimes these songs make me laugh, mostly out of astonishment at Sergio Guzman's super-aggressive Hispanic bellowing and English rapping. Four songs in, the band reaches a nerve-racking apex on "Montret": a shrieking two-note guitar riff is pulled as tight as a marathon runner's hamstring, then breaks into Latin funk with a horn section, then snaps back to metal as that opening riff resurfaces to panic among the brass. Ramon Ortiz's guitar roars over the rhythm section just like Guzman's vocals, and like the horn players, Ortiz is tasteful enough to stop just short of piercing my ears from the inside out. But "Whatever" is generic low-ride funk with a nice wah-wah and an English lyric; as the fifth song, it's a tip-off that Puya's energy level is going to eventually straighten out along with the songwriting. The Puya fusion cools down into seven mere rap-metal tunes barely touched by funk, never again as quite relentless as "Montret" or even "Solo." This album essentially leaves the listener with a sensation similar to a hearty hangover pummeling, without the alcohol. Crazy as it sounds, that's a good thing. Thank goodness for "Trinidad," a final bruising reminder of the preceding melange.

--John Young

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