Jet Jaguar – Endless Nights Review

Despite being a sizable and populous country, Mexico has precious few big names in the metal scene. These days their biggest claim to fame is a certain pirate metal drinking song, followed by Brujeria’s brutal cartel-themed death metal. But there is still significant love for the more classic subgenres, and Jet Jaguar are testimony to that fact. Winners of the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle 2017, these 5 gents have been pounding the pavement and reawakening the Mesoamerican hunger for 80’s metal for a while now, and they are finally ready to drop their debut, the garishly neon-colored Endless Nights.

The strength of Endless Nights is also its weakness. The album is an impressive homage to quite a range of big names. Opener “Jet Ranger” screams for Iron Maiden, single “Blinding Lights” draws from the wells of Mötley Crüe, and faster tracks like “Final Prayers” display the hand of Judas Priest. The enthusiasm is palpable on this mixture, with energetic riffwork, played with a sharp, classic energy, solid and dependable drumming and proficient vocal work from frontman Maxx Mendoza. The latter proves a versatile entity, as his performance changes like a chameleon from song to song, at turns recalling Axl Rose, Rob Halford and Tim “Ripper” Owens, although his slightly nasal drawl isn’t the most immediately inviting.

This range of obvious influences comes at the cost of the band forging their own identity. Again, this is very much an homage type of album, created to continue a classic and established sound, and as such it sometimes begs the question why one wouldn’t just listen to those who established the sound in the first place, particularly as they are often better produced as well; Endless Nights has a decent mix but much too loud a master, which doesn’t help with their retro metal aims. That the album largely holds its own regardless is testament to the band’s knack for writing a good hook, and many of the tracks have plenty of staying power, earworms latching into the brainstem and feeling right at home there. I’d frequently catch myself bobbing to one of their tracks without actively listening to it, and that combo of memorability and geniality is not easy to hit.

Where the band is at its most surprising is the two Spanish language tracks. Mendoza uses a slightly more subdued vocal approach here, resulting in an almost sultry sound, a subtle shift that reveals a greater amount of depth and a more pronounced identity of their own than elsewhere. The understated “Tormenta” in particular reminds of the better Héroes del Silencio tunes, suggesting that mixing heavy metal with Rock en Español might be where the true strength of Jet Jaguar lies. “Nunca Mas” combines this vocal style with Maiden leads and Priest chugs for a late album highlight, and I would love to hear the Jaguars focus on this aspect of their sound going forward.

Endless Nights is a solid starting point for a promising band. Jet Jaguar understand the classic sound they emulate quite well, and are able to write solid and enjoyable tunes within that style. What’s missing at this point is a definitive sense of identity, though they show themselves very much capable of that aspect of well, in their combination of glammy NWoBHM with old school Spanish rock. That direction, I feel, is where these Mexicans can truly set themselves apart, and demonstrate that even clever amalgamations of classic styles can still result in magic. Until then, they need not be ashamed of this entertaining and energetic starting point.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Pride & Joy Music
Websites: jetjaguarofficial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/jetjaguarmusic
Releases Worldwide: July 17th, 2020

« »