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Imagine staring down at a heavy metal album cover. Gruesome art? Been there. Skulls and demons? Yawn. But what if it’s a real severed head staring back at you? That’s exactly what Brujeria, the death metal/grindcore band known for their cryptic themes and masked identities, slapped on their 1993 debut album Matando Güeros. But how did that end up being the artwork for the album?

Imagine walking into a record store, casually browsing, and bam! There it is – a dude clutching a freshly detached cabeza like a morbid trophy. That’s exactly what vocalist Juan Brujo encountered in a Los Angeles liquor store, and he knew instantly: this gruesome image had to grace Brujeria‘s debut.

Talking to the Garza Podcast, Brujo recalled the discovery: “I went into a liquor store, and there was one of those ¡Alarma! magazines, and I look over and go, ‘Fuckin’ head!’ And I got it, and I go, ‘This has got to be our cover.’ Everybody agreed, ‘That’s got to be the cover.’ So, we had to call the guy in Mexico – for the ¡Alarma! publisher.”

Surprisingly, the record label was initially unfazed, lulled into a false sense of security by the Spanish title Matando Güeros. Little did they know that innocuous phrase translates to “Killing Whites,” a sentiment sure to raise eyebrows, if not hackles, across the globe.

And raise eyebrows it did. Germany promptly banned the album, sending Roadrunner Records into a tailspin facing the threat of the return of their whole catalog: “I got called at six in the morning – they were banning it in Germany because they’re like eight hours ahead. And it got banned and they’re going to send it back and ‘How could you? We’re going to sue you!’ and blah blah blah.”

Brujo claims he warned the label about the potential controversy, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. They dismissed his concerns, naively believing the Spanish title would fly under the radar: “I go, ‘I told you it was bad. Put a sticker on it – it’s gonna need it.’ ‘No, no – it’s in Spanish, no one cares.'”

But here’s the twist: despite the chaos, Brujeria got exactly what they wanted. The controversy fueled interest, turning Matando Güeros into a forbidden fruit, irresistible to metalheads with a taste for the extreme. In the end, a censored cover and a slight name change were the only concessions Brujeria made. They’d shocked the world, defied expectations, and cemented their place in metal history as the band with the head that wouldn’t quit.

“It was never supposed to leave Mexico – where it’s funny, where it’s a funny title.” Brujo explains about the album’s title, “It ends up in Germany and the first day, it’s like, ‘Fuck you guys. We’re sending the whole Roadrunner catalog back. Fuck this label.’ In a way, I was like, ‘I guess it worked.’ That’s exactly what we wanted.”

“They censored it with the black cover and all that shit, so they let it stay released – they didn’t return any records. So, it had a happy ending.” Brujo concludes.

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