Anhelos Ancestrales is the debut album from Argentinean folk metal band Dolmen. Dolmen was formed as early as 1998, but have only just released this debut in 2011. The band sings in their country’s official language, Spanish, which is a plus because I often feel that folk metal sounds much more authentic when the lyrics are sung in the band’s mother tongue.
The trouble is with Dolmen is that while their music is enjoyable to a degree, the alternating male/female vocal delivery often seems at odds with the music backing the two singers and while after several plays of the album I personally had learnt to appreciate and enjoy it I can still see many people not getting into Dolmen because of it. While both vocalists are worthy of praise as singers, more often than not their vocals just don’t seem to work on Anhelos Ancestrales upon those early listens and require more patience from the listener and planet of growing time. They get approval from me for not going down the route of male growler and female vocalist but rather forgoing growls entirely and alternating between clean male and female vocal. The male vocal sounds like a better fit for traditional Spanish music however and the female vocal is operatic. Now I’ve never shied away from operatic female vocal in metal music, but I am accustomed to getting it in symphonic or gothic metal bands, but not folk metal bands, and here it just seems out of place. As I said I did get into the vocals with some time and I’m glad I gave Dolmen’s debut more than a fair go because all in all it’s a pretty good release for a debut album, and I haven’t actually come across a folk metal album that sounds quite like this before, so hats off to Dolmen for that.
Music wise things are right on the mark. Dolmen doesn’t produce the heaviest metal I ever heard but they clearly have an ear for the folk melody, as the opening track Kaliyana Mitra quickly proves. The music is good and consistent throughout the album’s eight tracks, if somewhat predictable once you know what to expect from it. There is nothing really to complain about in this department but as whole Dolmen hasn’t managed to produce something that is truly outstanding, since the aforementioned Kaliyana Mitra is the only track that strikes me as a real highlight of the album. Although they’re definitely a band that I’ll be keeping an eye on for future releases because despite that element of predictability this is easily one of the more unique sounding folk metal bands I’ve encountered recently. Overall Anhelos Ancestrales is a solid and enjoyable album but I will stress again that I do find that it does require a dedicated listener to fully appreciate.