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Contrary to popular belief, the Spanish word puto doesn't mean "fag." Only a homosexual who also happens to be an asshole is really a puto. Puto, though, is anything that's bad, or wrong. For example, if you accused Molotov of homophobia for its 2000 hit "Puto" (which repeated a "Puuuuuto-Puuuuuto" chorus dozens of times), well, that automatically qualifies you as a puto. The song was actually a favorite in gay discos in Mexico City.

See, according to Molotov the bilingual Mexican rap-metal quartet Bush and Saddam are also putos, the Border Patrol gringos are definitely a bunch of putos and those who hold suspected terrorists with no charges and no lawyers are absolutely, positively putos. But the biggest putos of them all are those who can't see that, beyond the shock value and the curse words, Molotov is Mexico's answer to Divididos, the Argentine aplanadora, the most powerful machine in all of Spanish-language rock.

Dance and Dense Denso, Molotov's third album, marks the return of ace producer Gustavo Santaolalla, the man behind 1997's acclaimed Donde Jugaran Las Niñas?. Good move. As he did with Puerto Rico's Puya in '99 and Divididos in '93, Santaolalla expertly balances fierce metal with organic Latin fusion. This time, in "Charles E. White," he lets the band roll with a list of hilarious Spanish names (Evita Dolores de Hoyo, or "Avoid Pains in the Butt," for example) linked by thunderous guitars and a politically incorrect put-down of Spanish crossover favorite Manu Chao a telephone voice demands that the band speed up the music and offers a sensitive "social message." Another standout, "Frijolero," is a polka-like, northern-flavored dialogue in Spanish and English between a Border Patrol officer and an immigrant. Sample: "Don't call me gringo, you fucking beaner/Stay on your side of the goddamn river." So subtle.

However, Molotov's ultimate message to the gringo is not an insult, but a simple question: "What would you do if you were in our shoes?" Given the frequently present moments of toughness, this may represent a Caesarean birth of the Mexican Cool. So treat it as a scientific marvel: You may not understand all of what they're saying, but, if you let them, Molotov will blow you away with their brand of debauchery.

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Enrique Lopetegui