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If You Find It, Buy It - 84%

AgentAsh, February 24th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2005, CD, Dias de Garage

I came across this disc in Columbus, Ohio and bought it without hesitation. At the time I favored Graveyard Poetry quite a bit over the Abdullah's self-titled effort, although in time the latter has grown on me. I popped the disc into my laptop and noticed an immediate improvement in the production, even through a crappy Toshiba speaker. Mic placement helps, and in this effort Jamie Walters and Jeff Shirilla nailed the drum kit on the tracks recorded at Forked Tongue. The fidelity on the three studio Dragonauta tracks, however, far surpassed my expectations. In terms of a split effort, this disc rivals the best you can find, and both bands should feel quite proud.

I regard Seven Doors as quintessential Abdullah. It begins with what sounds like a sample of the music you would hear in a Middle-Eastern elevator and appropriately bursts into the best riff Jeff has written to date - bar none. I have always appreciated his ability to meld stoner rock and self-indulgent speed picking with intent, and in this track his lyrical themes hit heavy as ever - but with that same intent, or as he says "purpose." The mood hinges on that moment when you hit rock bottom alone but find comfort and solace, knowing that you can now only rise and bring others with you. The dynamics build and the lead sparks a transition to determination. As the song closes you have the classic pattern of a needle striking the inner circle of a spinning vinyl, but before the song closes you hear the heavy sounds of a track in reverse, reminding you that you can go back and relive the experience if you want. I have listened to the tune a million times, and I have every intent of doubling that before I die.

The remaining Abdullah tracks compare well with what you will find on other albums, with Brightest Day as another high point. Some interesting choices include the Danzigesque enunciations of the chorus in Killing for Culture and the influenced sound of With Guilt, recorded by Pat Lewis at Mushroomhead's jam room, nonetheless.

I would compare my coincidental discovery of Dragonauta to ordering an Americano because the house ran out of swill. I had not heard of the band when I made my purchase, but they approach doom with many risks, such as the intentional use of lightened distortion on fourth harmonies and vocals alike. Federico has a gritty and commanding voice for dishing Spanish to the underserved doom community, but in truth the musicianship here is paramount. Ariel, Daniel, Hernán and Martín complement each other quite well, and every movement in their craft evidences their strengths, plays off them, and showcases musicianship forged in the long-lost art of rehearsal.

I wish the two live tracks had consistent levels, but I appreciate how they capture the integrity of the band's performance. At one point you can hear a gradual lowering of the levels at the soundboard, but these minor criticisms have not kept me from adding the tracks to my playlists.

Letargo Espiritual serves as the pièce de résistance. It begins with a heavy and choppy riff, shortly accompanied by several unique chord choices and a phantasmic slide. The drum work hinges on incredible, and the bass line kicking into the song's main riff merits multiple listens by itself. Dragonauta has the lost art of crafting compositions down to a ciencia, and any time that I find their titles on the shelf I will - as I did for Abdullah - make a purchase, take a risk, and broaden my horizons.