It’s been five years and two albums from side project Mariachi El Bronx since the last album from Then Bronx. All this time away has seen a new sense of melody make its way into their sound without sacrificing any of the attitude and aggression that made first three albums pack such a punch.
Sticking with the self-titled tradition they started with their debut a decade ago, The Bronx (or IV) opens with The Unholy Hand, a great reintroduction to that familiar Bronx guitar crunch and even more familiar vocal growl of Matt Caughthran. Five years ago, a track like Past Lives pointed toward the possibility of more melody within the The Bronx sound and now IV delivers.
The influence of five years recording and touring as their mariachi alter egos is clearly seen in a song like Style Over Everything and closer Last Revelation, while Torches and Life Less Ordinary slow down to almost a ballad tempo (and hopefully these are the closest to a ballad this band ever comes). But none of this is to say they’ve lost any edge.
There’s still plenty Caughthran rage to get the blood pumping, still that almost tribal drumming of Jorma Vik and still the kind of guitar riffage that feels like it could tear right through you if you’re not careful. After such a long break, this is a more than satisfying return from The Bronx with plenty of what attracted fans in the early days. But IV show a clear evolution as musicians and song writers that proves they’ve still got plenty to say and plenty of ways to say it.