Jersey mersh-metal newcomers Ill Niño take a funked-up stroll through Linkin Park on "What Comes Around," the timeliest of several radio-ready tracks on their catchy, angst-ridden debut. They’ve got the recipe down pat: mellow hip-hop verse, somber pop chorus, ballistic "Shut up!" interlude. But the group spend the rest of the disc developing a formula of their own, and it’s at least as compelling as that of rock’s biggest-selling boy band. Vocalist Cristian Machado is mostly into Deftones and death metal; this native Brazilian also likes to pepper his rhymes with Spanish. The six-piece group employ a full-time percussionist for that extra Latin vibe, and guitar ace Marc Rizzo contributes plenty of choice flamenco lines alongside the band’s signature chainsaw riffing. It’s an ambitious approach that goes well with Machado’s frustrated howling on gloomy tirades like "Unreal" and "Nothing’s Clear." Ill Niño also fare well when they go to extremes: the incendiary "Rip Out Your Eyes" sacrifices melody for aggression, and the straight-ahead jazz-pop love song that closes the disc, "With You," transcends mere novelty. Some of their pop moves are too obvious, but this band have nonetheless stumbled across a contemporary metal hybrid that outsmarts most of their competition.
(Ill Niño perform on the Jägermeister Music Tour this Friday, March 22, at Tsongas Arena in Lowell. Call 978-848-6900.)