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A creative Celtic folk metal fun ride - 85%

kluseba, July 15th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, DRO

After having covered a very bad Spanish release with the latest stinker from Tierra Santa, let’s take a look on a rather different effort from another famous Spanish metal band, Mägo De Oz”. The folk and Celtic metal band has been around for twenty-five years now and released Hechizos, Pócimas y Brujería after a short break last year. In comparison to Tierra Santa, which created some decent songs in their earlier years, I had some problems with the high-pitched, overwhelming tone of vocals by this band’s previous singer José Andrëa, who was in the band for fifteen years. The more grounded but still versatile new vocalist, Zeta, who came to the band around the same time as the new bassist and new keyboard player, impresses me much more, and truly convinced me on this, his first release with the band.

Mägo de Oz is a band where the vocals are only one element amongst many others. They have nine band members, including a violin player and a musician for wind instruments such as bodhrans, flutes, and whistles. The mixture of folk and power metal on the new album should immediately appeal to fans of bands like Italians Elvenking or the French Les Trois Fromages, with highly danceable, fun songs like “H20z” (that also has a very humorous video clip). The band also offers more metal-driven tracks, like “El Libro De Las Sombras” or “Xanandra”, which should please those who adore DragonForce, Helloween, or Rhapsody of Fire.

My personal highlights are others still, like the classic hard and progressive rock-inspired “No Pares (De Oír Rock & Roll)”, that sounds a little bit like a folk version of Deep Purple with its dominating keyboards. The operatic female vocals in the playful middle part come as welcome surprise as well. “Brujas” convinces with a darker atmosphere, excellent guitar solos, and a very smart use of female vocals. The closing title track, however, is the true highlight of this album. It features the band’s signature Celtic folk influences, including excellent flute play, emotional guitar solos, and many gripping changes of atmosphere in over eight minutes of stunning music.

If you can get your hands on the limited or digital version of the record, you should definitely do so. “Piratas” is a dark and cinematic track that perfectly fits the topic. This song would fit any soundtrack to a pirate movie. It reminds me a little bit of the German medieval rock band Cultus Ferox, in fact. A big surprise comes with the instrumental “Obertura Xanandra”, which is an excellent progressive metal track that could also have come from Dream Theater, and that easily beats the instrumental overture of that band’s last self-titled record. That’s nothing I would have expected from a Spanish folk metal band, but they really prove here what excellent and varied musicians they are.

If you want an outburst of creativity centered on a vivid Celtic folk metal fun ride, this album should be yours by now.

Originally written for Black Wind Metal

Apparently, we won't miss José Andrëa... That mu - 75%

calderabanuet, August 2nd, 2013

Mägo de Oz are one of those almost-mainstream acts that most metalheads tend to despise. Even so, I truly believe their music, lyrics and general concept to be quite interesting, and I’ve enjoyed almost every single release they’ve put out. If you ask me, MdÖ are consistent, if anything. Now recently, they lost one of the strongest staples of their sound, and “Hechizos, Pócimas y Brujería” seems to be an attempt to proof that José Andrea’s departure won’t prevent them from rocking as they normally do.

Being this work an introduction for Javier “Zeta” Domínguez as the new singer for this Spanish outfit, vocals and therefore lyrics are definitely something to pay special attention to. As far as lyrics go, it’s nobody, but Txus Di Fellatio, drummer and indisputable leader of the band, who actually writes all lyrics and songs for Mägo de Oz, and his thought-provoking poetic style is now unmistakable. In fact, lyrics is one of the reasons why I started listening to them in the first place, about twelve years ago now.

Txus has been able to mix pure poetry, philosophy, fun of the rock & roll type, myths and legends into a very effective blending of memorable verses and vocal melodies. Now regarding the melodies, the Halford-like vocal lines this man writes are nothing but pretty demanding, and that’s when Zeta makes his appearance: A former singing teacher, Javier Domínguez has a big post to fill here, and he definitely succeeded at that. Not only is he up to the job, but he actually nurtured the vocal department by displaying a more stable voice than the one we’re used to… Yes, José Andrëa’s peculiar tone will be missed, but not for long.

So yes, the vocal duties have been gracefully fulfilled here, how about the music? Well, good ol’Txus has done it again: his pompous and at the same time simple formula keeps working.

Hard rock base + Celtic music arrangements + power metal moments = FUN!

And the fun comes also from several pretty amazing moments when all instrumentalists take turns to show off their musicianship and proficiency. Listing such moments would be a huge anti-climax, so, why don’t you explore the album yourself? It’s worth it.

Yes, the formula keeps working, vocals are as good as usual – perhaps even better, and everything seems fine… BUUUUUT I’ve listened to this before. It’s not they are repeating any of their albums altogether, but it sounds as though they re-made some of their most emblematic songs. As I said, I’m positive the main goal of “Hechizos, pócimas y brujería” is to proof their audience that Mägo de Oz will keep rocking for many, many years, and that even the loss of such a distinctive element as the vocalist that sang for them for 15 years won’t prevent them from that. In the process, they sacrificed a lot.

All in all, I found this work quite fun if something. There are some pretty amazing songs here: “H2Oz”, “No Pares (De Oír Rock & Roll)”, “Satanael” and “Brujas” made great listening several, several times, and the whole work is fully professional and it surprised me every now and then. Even though is nothing exactly new, I’m definitely going over this one again in the future.

—Originally written for