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Epic Doom Marries Heavy Metal - 86%

TheStormIRide, December 6th, 2013

Dantesco is an epic doom act hailing from the verdant and mountainous Cayey region of Puerto Rico. Formed in 2003, Dantesco has amassed an impressive following in their homeland and have firmly established themselves as one of the forerunners in the Puerto Rican metal scene. We Don’t Fear Your God is the fourth full length album by Dantesco, following 2011’s Seven Years of Battle. If you’ve already listened to the band, you know what to expect, as this features the same kind of epic doom, heavy metal riffing and the soaring, charismatic vocals of Erico Morales.

Featuring the most solid production of their career, We Don't Fear Your God shows Dantesco at their strongest yet. My chief complaint with their earlier albums was that the production kept the drums and guitars from being as powerful as they should be. Here the guitar riffs have finally found their edge, as the production is clear but gives the guitars enough punch to stand out. Musically, Dantesco has two functions: one of epic doom along the lines of Candlemass an Doomsword and the other of classic heavy metal inspired by Mercyful Fate, Manowar and Manilla Road. Some tracks, like the title track and “A Brother Has Fallen” showcase the slow paced doom, with crawling drum beats and slow and simplistic chord progressions with melodic lead guitar overlays. On the other end of the spectrum, songs like “Betrayer” and “Burnt” show the band with mid-tempo, marching rhythms with enough power to knock over an army while “The Conqueror Worm” show a faster paced galloping that calls to mind the likes of Iron Maiden. Dantesco shows a solid mix of the faster and slower paces, as it's not all just crash and bash or doomy dreariness. The songwriting is solid and keeps from bogging down too often, as when things begin to trail towards stagnation a faster riff is thrown in or a tempo change creeps up. It's quite a feat that Dantesco manages to keep the well from running dry, as the album has a run time of almost seventy minutes.

Furthering the nods to some of heavy metal's greats, there are some awesome solos present, such as the fast paced Mercyful Fate inspired segments of “Of Darkness” or the moody sweeping during “At the Hill of the Ravens”. It would be a positive boon if the band would focus a little more on the superb lead guitars, but they're a nice facet the way they are. Perhaps Dantesco's most unique factor are the charismatic and operatic vocals of Erico Morales. Morales utilizes a deep operatic style that wouldn't sound out of place in an actual opera, but it really doesn't sound like any other metal bands. Yes, I know Haggard and Therion have used operatic vocals, but they tend to utilize operatic choir vocals rather than a single vocalist. Equally entering are Morales' frequent falsettos, which have an almost screechy, Tim “Ripper” Owens quality to them. The entire album is just opera vocals though, as Morales also showcases a gruff, 80's US power metal style at times, which gives those sections a much rougher edge. The rest of the musicians are definitely not slouches, but the performance of the day is given to Morales, as he gives Dantesco the distinct flair needed to stand out.

Dantesco's fourth full length album, We Don't Fear Your God, is a solid epic doom album with enough heavy metal riffing to keep things fresh. The soaring, operatic vocals of Morales are an acquired taste, but if you're willing to give it a shot the rewards are many. With this album, Dantesco firmly plant themselves at the front of the Puerto Rican metal scene. If you worship at the altar of Candlemass and Doomsword and want some serious doses of Mercyful Fate in you doom, then check this out. Seventy minutes of epic doom with operatic vocals... yes, please.

Written for The Metal Observer: