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Solid, exciting melodic Argentine heavy metal - 78%

slayrrr666, May 23rd, 2014

The fifth release from Argentinean heavy metallers Patan, “Poder,” shows that the five-year lay-off from releases hasn’t neutered their fiery brand of melodic heavy metal drastically and remains a highly enjoyable release from the band.

As with most bands hailing from South America, the impetus here is based on melody and this bunch certainly has it in spades throughout the record. Dominated by the guitars, which are really centered up front and powerful throughout the mix, the sluggish rhythms throughout this effort are naturally by design so that the melodies can become the focal point of the matter and the soaring, majestic leads dished out are full of warm, memorable hymns that add a definite flair to their music. That the majority of the tracks are kept rather straightforward and in the mid-tempo which allows for the fiery nature of the leads and riffing structures to come through and dominate the album. The fact that the lower tempos are utilized for the majority of the tracks also manages to highlight the stellar guitar playing during these melodies for its never at a point where the music becomes indecipherable under layers and layers of tight, dense riffs so the fact that here the slower paces really helps the band immensely. Being able to pick out the melodic flurries along the driving rhythms makes this a lot more harmonious and enjoyable. It also doesn’t hurt that the lead vocals are incredibly varied and dynamic and offer a startling mix of melody themselves as they offer up soaring leads, quiet croons and a harmonious mid-register key that sweeps through the music quite nicely which really helps to sell the melodic nature of the music quite nicely. As well, the fact that this isn’t simple melodies but that the band can also deliver on solid, heavy riffing as well makes this a rather impressive outing for its able to mix into both the melodic, fiery brand of music as well as the harder, heavier music. When the band requires the necessary muscle to drive home a pounding rhythm or deliver a tight, raging series of heavy riff-work, they’ve got the ability to do this with a fine bottom-end provided by stellar, thumping bass-work and dynamic drumming that manages to stay in a heavy, plodding mid-tempo for the majority of the time with simple, non-dramatic paces that keep the material moving along nicely when it needs to while also pounding out the double-bass when required, and when the guitars chime in with more heavier riffing rather than the focus on the melody, it creates a great dynamic against those melodies in generating that heavier, fiery brand of traditional metal that’s long been the bands’ strength.

Overall, there’s not too much of a difference here between the two styles of the album for it remains fairly neutral throughout. The band’s penchant for melody-driven, mid-tempo pieces with sparkling vocals, energetic rhythms and solid, sturdy performances is pretty consistent throughout and really doesn’t deviate all that much, allowing this to generate a remarkable consistency throughout the running time even if it does present itself with a few problems. The consistency throughout tends to highlight the fact that there’s not a huge amount of deviation within the riffing from one song to another, not so much in the different patterns but more in the sense of having an eerily similar feel throughout the album, especially on the back-half. It’s hard to describe why but the feeling that you’ve heard this rhythm against that drum-line against the very same vocal melody does tend to creep into the songs with the repetitive formula in terms of songwriting popping up throughout those tracks and taking away from the music itself with the inherent inability to recognize why a specific pattern or rhythm remains so familiar. As well, the constant reliance on the same tempo hammers this factor home as well, not really showing off anything really different from what came before it on the album and brings about more feelings of familiar with the usage of familiar rhythms and patterns throughout the album due to the fact that the majority of the songs are pretty much in the same general speed and therefore don’t really have the room to experiment with different rhythms or ideas all too often. Naturally, that can also make for a pleasing album as well since the whole effort’s familiarity to each other makes it easier to get into the whole experience of the band by being able to enjoy the vast majority of the tracks for their similar style and approach that flows throughout this one. This doesn’t make the music bad by any means, but it does present a potential problem amongst those looking for a vast, or even limited, amount of variety to have this much of the album be in that same similar pattern throughout. The other big note about the album is the fact that the back-half is really where the majority of the album’s best tracks are and showcase many fine moments throughout, with a lot more fiery, up-tempo tracks and a solid, well-rounded series of songs rather than the blunt, straightforward tracks in the first half that also manages to feature some weaker moments while the second half is a lot more solid and doesn’t have as many weaker moments, which maintains the familiarity a little better and makes for a more satisfying experience..

Throughout the album, there’s very few differences throughout the tracks and really manage to get a lot of good points throughout. Intro ‘A Golpe Te Hacés,’ starts things off nicely and perfectly sets the stage as a rocking mid-tempo opener. The two follow-ups, ‘Sin Temor’ and the title track, switch things up and provide more melody instead of the crunch despite still keeping that mid-tempo pace in line. The weakest song on the whole album, ‘Pacto,’ is a simple, lame mid-tempo chug that never really offers anything new or interesting throughout and really could’ve been eliminated without much difficulty. In a rather refreshing turn, ‘Esclavo de Tu Piel’ turns in some unique twists with the multifaceted approach of a ballad-like intro before turning into raging mid-tempo melodic chug, displaying a fine sense of songwriting craft and surprises throughout. Both ‘Duelo Prohibido’ and ‘Soldado del Metal’ offer up heavier chugs and pacing with melodic leads throughout, the only difference being the latter is slower paced. ‘Prisionero de un Dolor’ is a more traditional ballad and seems right at home with the heavier material on hand, not really coming off as cheesy as it could’ve. The churning multi-sectioned epic ‘Viviendo en Pedazos’ is certainly the album’s lone experimental offering as it manages to offer up plenty of different sections throughout and never really feels completely out-of-place when it remains in heavier mode, though some of the lighter sections do give some odd rhythms and patterns. Finally, it ends on one of the best tracks on the album, ‘H.R.D.,’ a roaring, hard-charging rocker that mixes the melody and fury quite well to end things on a positive note.

In a rather curious move, the fact that this one manages to be a little more solid and enjoyable in the back-half rather than the first half is a great sign with a large amount of positives to like there that really drive the album up overall compared to the somewhat weaker and less-impressive first half, even if it still doesn’t do a whole lot really wrong. This fiery blend of melody-infused heavy metal is certainly competent enough, even in the first half, to generate some solid moments overall and becomes highly enjoyable even if the dramatic splits in the album do lower this one somewhat and really relegate this one for the die-hard band or genre fans only.