Web exclusive: Latin rock assimilation 

Monte Negro
Feed the Hungry Records
4 stars

It’s tough for any artist to honor one’s ancestry while simultaneously exploring new sonic terrain. Monte Negro’s done it.

On the bilingual rock band from L.A.’s new album, “Cicatrix,” they strike an honorable balance between their Latin roots and something approximating assimilation.

“Cicatrix” is brimming with lofty, transcendental rock, à la U2. Behind a radiant production, it’s engineered to emotionally and physically move you. Many times, it does. The astral banger, “No One Knows,” sounds so gorgeous it could move you to tears. “Don’t Let Me Down” is not only notable for its rubbery guitar lead, but for its meticulous ballast and galvanic chorus.

But on the other side of Monte Negro, the edgy rock ’n’ roll of “Arde El Corazon (Triangled Love)” and the acoustic balladry of “Alma de Mujer” are flecked with Latin influences, besides being sung in Spanish. Maybe what they do is too much of a calculated design, but it didn’t happen without years of experimentation, and there’s no denying Monte Negro is good at what it does.

Perhaps more than most, they have the potential to unite oft-disparate audiences. Love it or hate it, the point is to feel something. And with “Cicatrix,” you almost surely will.

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