With Puya’s sophomore offering, Union, all eyes of the Kerrang!/Metal Edge set are on the bilingual band, as their Fundamental debut wowed gimmick-starved critics and Ozzfest fans the world over with the quartet’s fusion of Caribbean flair and heavy-handed groove, consequently putting them at the forefront of the dubious nu-metal scene. Well, just as Fundamental blew right by this writer, so does Union, perhaps more so given the omnipresent hype surrounding the record • not for lack of trying, though. Union obviously cementing the band’s sound n’ style even firmer, Puya’s rhythm-intensive crunch is an admirable one, drummer Eduardo Paniagua (among various other percussionists) plying one polyrhythm atop another, guitarist Ramon Ortiz thusly following suit by sticking to a syncopated chug of various • but not too various, if you catch my (cold) drift • flavors that’s guaranteed to get the mosh pit slugging along. But as much as Union is geared toward such • that is, the mosh pit • it takes numerous stabs at dancefloor-enabling flamenco, not really furthering the admittedly stunted material as much as it distracts from it • more accurately, being just plain distracting • even if the band’s roots lie in Puerto Rica-via-Florida: Basically, tone down the flamenco rhythms a tad, and the record’s something Tom Morello and the rest of Rage Against the Machine could tackle after a couple margaritas, minus some of the inflammatory invective, more or less. A bummer? Not really, as Union evinces no small amount of ambition, but is this really the Lateralus of Summer ’01 some industry folk are making it? Hell no.

MCA Records, 2220 Colorado Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404; http://www.mcarecords.com, http://www.puya.com

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