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How Ambition Led to a Near-Realised Opera - 77%

bayern, September 14th, 2020

This not very known team showed considerable musical prowess very early, on their first demos, the main culprit being one Raul Guzman, a guitar prodigy from the ranks of Marty Friedman and Vinnie Moore, whose stunning pyrotechnics bedazzled the American underground in the late-80’s. Next on the list was the revealing of all mysteries of life and death with the debut, largely a summation of the finest moments from the demos, a confident also intricate labyrinthine thrash/death mixture that would have been a highlight in Germany even.

More proficient than the Transmetal lads, and nearly as aggressive as Mortuary, this team seemed like the most likely pretenders to the extreme metal throne in their homeland… they only needed to unleash another similarly delightful slab of the same ingredients… and boom, comes the album reviewed here and sees our friends full of ambition the latter big enough to sustain the production of an entire opera… no kidding, this enterprise here is way more elaborate and multi-faceted than the first instalment. Good stuff, no doubt, only that the final package doesn’t deliver as awesomely as the debut.

Why? Well, to begin with, the chosen larger-than-life operatic structure disfavours the band’s aggressive stance; the inserted short lyrical all-instrumental etudes are so frequently used that their effect wears out way before the end. On top of that, more than half of the actual compositions begin in an introspective balladic, keyboard or organ-dominated, manner, adding further to the already mellow skeleton of the opera… sorry, album. When the metal hits, the guys are truly in their nature, but again expect laid-back stopovers and not very justified ponderous doomy passages the latter accompanied by weird nasal narratives. Certainly, the operatic layout benefits from this diversity but the transition between the separate segments isn’t always very smooth, with Guzman called for help on those, his mesmerizing leads nearly stitching things together although his exuberant virtuoso expletives are sometimes awkwardly-sounding next to a ponderous doom-laden section.

Thrash doesn’t have much of a say overall save for the excellent dark Coroner-esque semi-galloper “Impulso”, the band notching up the death metal aggression whenever the mentioned romantic escapades are given a break, with a couple of compositions (“Remembranzas del Muerto”) strictly belonging to the doom/death hybrid. There’s little to complain when the guys embark on an admirable tale-telling tech/prog-death journey (“Profundo Desconocido”, the stupendous surreal shredder “Que hay en esa Mente Sucia”), there’s a few of those here… it’s just that the accumulation of so many disparate nuances breaks the album flow which seemed so natural and effortless on the debut… it’s hard, for instance, to see the significance of the short material, like the unpretentious corey “Cuándo van a Morir”, the acoustic guitar-guided instrumental “Castillo de los Duendes”, or “La Danza de los Gnomos”, another all-instrumental tractate on guitar wizardry on which Guzman simply wants to show who the finest musician here is…

well, there can be no doubt whatsoever in the latter although not a single band member here slouches, Guzman’s brother Jesus in charge of the vocals, deep guttural deathly semi-shouty growls that courteously step aside on the sprawling instrumental parts. I believe that for the guys this saga was a mission accomplished as they must have intended it this way, the most glaring defect being the muddy sound quality, that last element by no means intentionally applied. It’s a grower, in a way similar to the Swiss Babylon Sad’s “Kyrie” and early Misanthrope: you listen to it at first, finding it too over-the-top and not very organized… then you find bits and pieces of craftmanship on subsequent listens, and start liking it more. You keep acknowledging its flaws but those are something you can live with, and maybe you will start thinking that this opus might as well be a more or less logical sequel to the first coming…

or maybe it was a beginning of a new path that is yet to be explored; so I strongly suggest, instead of indulging in a string of compilation releases, the guys pull themselves together and create something new… ever since their reformation in 2006 they have been operating in a semi-lazy mode… come on, like one opera nearly realized suffices for a lifetime!