This one came out of nowhere. I had never before heard of Tierra Santa when I got Sangre De Reyes. After spinning the record many times now, I am not sure whether I am sorry for that or not. I mean, these guys can play! That goes without saying. This record is brimming with top-notch musicianship and very well played metal. There is a lot of melodic guitar work, galloping drums and big vocal melodies. Pretty much everything (except for the all Spanish vocals) is as it should be for a melodic power metal album.
There are only two things that keep me from really digging it. Number one, the music. Is it done skillfully? Yes, very. The quality level of musicianship is all there. Does it rock? Oh yeah! There are plenty of headbanging moments on Sangre De Reyes. “Pegaso” is a quickly paced burner with excellent guitar work and a sweeping, epic feel. “La Armada Invencible” is another scorcher. “El Laberinto Del Minotauro” has a strong, mid-tempo theme melody similar to one of Yngwie’s more commercial moments like “Fire” from Trilogy.
The keyboards here are a nice touch. Overall though, it’s all a little too familiar. The bio says “…evoke the classic feel of bands like Iron Maiden.” Well, what is should say “…evokes the classic feel of Iron Maiden a little too well.” A lot of the music here could easily be lifted from Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son or Powerslave. It’s that similar. Not to any particular Maiden tune, but in feel. The super melodic riffs, the galloping, driving tempos, the excellent twin guitars and the soaring melodies are all very reminiscent of classic Iron Maiden. Listen to “Mi Tierra,” “Juana De Arco,” the aforementioned “Pegaso” or the title track and try and avoid the term “rip off.” I dare you.
The albums single moment of all out cheese appeal comes in track nine “El Amor De Mi Vida.” The music is and the lyrics are I’m sure, super-ultra-mega-sappy (complete with “sentimental piano guy” intro) and would almost make Stryper cringe. This is one point where I am glad I can’t understand the lyrics.
That brings up strike number two; the vocals. The guy’s a good singer, but the fact that the lyrics are all in Spanish makes for limited ability to relate to what’s going on past the guitars. I applaud them for sticking to their roots, but for me, if I can’t sing along I don’t bother.
Ok, I am well aware of the fact that I am nitpicking here, but this is my review after all. I think the music is really good, even in spite of the obvious overindulgence in Maiden-isms. And, for many of you, it’s “music first, lyrics second.” So, if you’re after another good power metal record for your already too large collection, pick it up. Man, I wish I was fluent in Spanish.