AtomicCrimsonRush

Scott Tuffnell
MMA Metal Reviewer ·
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 1 year ago

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352 reviews/ratings
KISS - Destroyer Hard Rock | review permalink
KISS - Alive! Hard Rock | review permalink
GIRLSCHOOL - Hit and Run NWoBHM | review permalink
SOUNDGARDEN - Superunknown Hard Rock | review permalink
AYREON - The Human Equation Progressive Metal | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Deep Purple In Rock Hard Rock | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory Progressive Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Metallica Traditional heavy metal | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: LIVEcrime Progressive Metal | review permalink
RUSH - A Farewell to Kings Hard Rock | review permalink
RUSH - Hemispheres Hard Rock | review permalink
RUSH - Moving Pictures Hard Rock | review permalink
RUSH - Permanent Waves Hard Rock | review permalink
TOOL - Lateralus Progressive Metal | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Paranoid Traditional heavy metal | review permalink
LED ZEPPELIN - Stairway To Heaven Hard Rock | review permalink
IRON MAIDEN - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son Traditional heavy metal | review permalink
IRON MAIDEN - Brave New World Traditional heavy metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 109 3.53
2 Progressive Metal 93 3.83
3 Thrash Metal 35 3.53
4 Traditional heavy metal 29 3.53
5 Proto-Metal 16 3.63
6 Metal Related 12 4.08
7 NWoBHM 11 3.23
8 Non-Metal 10 3.35
9 Alternative Metal 8 3.06
10 Symphonic Metal 7 3.64
11 Glam Metal 5 1.60
12 US Power Metal 3 3.67
13 Sludge Metal 3 3.67
14 Black Metal 2 0.75
15 Neoclassical metal 2 3.50
16 Industrial Metal 2 3.00
17 Death Metal 1 1.00
18 Avant-garde Metal 1 4.00
19 Speed Metal 1 2.50
20 Nu Metal 1 3.50
21 Power Metal 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews

METALLICA Hardwired... to Self-Destruct

Album · 2016 · Traditional heavy metal
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"Hardwired... to Self Destruct" (HTSD) is the new Metallica 8 years on following the maddeningly successful "Death Magnetic" (DM) that followed the insanely dreadful "St Anger" (SA). First the good news, it is streets ahead better on every level than "SA"; though that is not exactly a tall order, let's face it. Now the bad news... it is not really up to the standard of previous masterpieces "Kill", "Lightning", "Puppets", "Justice", "Black", and I am still more blown away by "DM" over this latest release. The problem is that Metallica have raised the bar so high that it is almost impossible to surpass it, therefore they are their own worst enemy having reached the pinnacle in the early years and the unmitigated radio success of commercial friendly "Black album". They are undeniable as musicians, but the new album suffers in terms of vocals in places and some of the lyrics are immature. Now arguably Hetfield has still got the raw mechanics to make a growl sound convincing, but I was so taken in by his cleaner vocals on "DM" and "Black" that I felt disappointed that he opts for the growls on "HTSD". At times he sounds auto tuned and often goes for a multi tracked mix to hide the scorched vocals and raspiness. Some will love this approach of course, but he has such a wonderful timber in his cleaner voice that it feels like a waste when he ignores this. It seems that Metallica are making a statement that they can thrash and bash with the best of them, but they have more musical genius then just grinding out a speedy riff and growling for the duration of a song. The opening track is the worst in this regard. It just states Metallica are back and we are not taking any prisoners. But why do they need to prove that? We know they are back in force by listening to "DM". No, the title track is one I will skip. And what's with all the F bombs and swearing? If they need to resort to swearing their heads off then that shows they are no better than any of the other unimaginative metallers out there who think they need to use expletives to try and ram home a point, but I prefer my Metallica more subtle than that. Anyway, at least it is a short song. After this start, the songs improve dramatically. Next offering, is the catchy raucous "Atlas, Rise!" and it is certainly a killer track. This one has the infectious hook in the chorus, that has an old school feel akin to the earlier Metallica we all grew up to adore. I was one of the headbangers of the 80s that bought "Kill" off the shelf and played it to death on vinyl. So it is a joy to revisit this old Metallica sound. It has a wonderful instrumental break, Hammett on wah wah pedal as usual but its a powerhouse performance with a half time feel riff. Another solo follows which is a sheer delight, until it returns to the main melody. A highlight.

"Now That We're Dead" begins with an extended intro with a crunching riff, simple but effective, and it just chunks along with some amazing double kick drum. The cool galloping trot riff works nicely with the vocals. The lead break is fantastic shredding with Hetfield's chops and I admire the nice slow pace on this track, a veritable headbanger.

"Moth into Flame" is the track that verges on brilliant; perhaps the stand out track of the album, opening with a frenetic fast paced riff and very angry vocals "Blacked out, Pop queen, amphetamine, The screams crashed into silence, Tapped out, Doused in the gasoline, The high times going timeless, Decadence, Death of the innocence, The pathway starts to spiral, Infamy, All for publicity, Destruction going viral, Light it up!" The rhythms are hyper fast and Ulrich is banging the heck out of the kit; no more banging on beer barrels ala "St Anger". The mid feel is an intense 8/8 pedal to the metal riff blast. The lead break is wah wah and fast fingering all the way. Hammett certainly unleashes a tirade of metal firepower on this track. It is as if Metallica are just unleashing their fury on this track. It is old school and everything we love about Metallica. Another highlight. "Am I Savage?" is a straight forward slow track for a while until it moves into a proggish off beat riff prior to the chorus. I like how this shifts and changes throughout and the tims sigs are complex. Ulrich is terrific on this as he drums like a man possesed. It has a darker edge with the lyrics abnout the shapeshifting rage inner man can suffer from, "I don't recognise you anymore". The mid section feels like the sound on "Justice"; deep and bassy, and there is a great lead break to wrap your ears around.

"Halo on Fire" is another of the albums highlights; dynamic riffing with softerand great lyrics "Obey, obey, Come won't you stay, Sincere, sincere, All ends in tears, Endure, endure, Thoughts most impure, Concede, concede, But both shall we bleed, Oh, halo on fire, The midnight knows it well, Fast, is desire, Creates another hell I fear to turn on the light, For the darkness won't go away, Fast, is desire, Turn out the light Halo on fire!" The softer approach is welcome, acoustics and muzzled bass. Hetfield has a great voice here and uses it rather than screaming throughout. The half time feel is killer, with some really melodic riffage, and an infectious vocal treatment. The duel lead break is absolutely sensational. The outro is mind boggling, with brilliant infectious tune injected with the signature Metallica sound. The icing on the cake is the lead soloing finesse of Hammett as a capstone. Another highlight for sure along with "Atlas" and "Moth".

"Confusion" is just a wall to wall assault of raucous metal, with some great lead breaks and thrashing drums. Opening riff is like "Am I Evil" and partly you might hear portions of riffs from the "Justice" album. It could be misconstrued as the sequel to "One" though no where as brilliant. A bit of a throwaway to me but still delivers metal to the max.

"Dream No More" opens with a slow doomy riff. The feel is like "Harvester of Sorrow" meets "Sad But True". It grows on you with every listen, and finally I was enjoying the doomy crunchy riff. "You turn to stone" is quite a memorable lyric.

"ManUNkind" is a very intense track with killer riffing and very heavy lyrics. The lead break is simply stunning and it has a melodic chorus that stays with me. Like all these tracks there is an accompanying video clip and it features a parody of a Satanic metal band that snort drugs prior to going on stage and then proceed to cut themselves and bleed all over the insatiable crowd. The crowd are even more ravenous when the band throw the spiked pig's head to them, causing some fans to gourge themselves on it. The band resemble Black Metal legends Mayhem so is perhaps just having an affectionate dig at them; but it is a real eye opener.

"Here Comes Revenge" is another throwaway with a pedestrian riff and vocals. The song blazes past almost without notice among some of the stronger tracks. The riff is too close to "Leper Messiah" and other Metallica of the past for my comfort, but it is not as bad as anything on "St Anger". The lead break fires up and relieves the mediocrity. Oh well, some will love it as usual, but this does little for me personally.

"Murder One" is dedicated to Motorhead's Lemmy; in fact the film clip is a tribute to him showing him with Hawkwind and explaining why he left and how he conquered with Motorhead as a result. The "Aces High" and "Man in Black" lyric is a clue but the clip makes it obvious, beautifully animated in a style akin to the Gorillaz video clips. The music is not as good as the clip but it cranks along with some angry vocals and a simple guitar motif but not as high standard as other tracks. The lead break is worth sticking around for, one of Hammett's most manic lead shreds. "Spit Out the Bone" closes the album with a slice and dice metal riff motorvating along with purpose and power. This is absolutely one to wake up the senses with machine gun riffing and speed drumming. Once it gets going the pace is as fast as "Damage Inc" or "Whiplash" which will delight all Metallica addicts. There are some amazing riffs on this one, and a relentless tempo throughout with some detours into Pantera like chunks of metal. To cap it off the filmclip is brilliant with violent battling red ninjas, looking like a demented form of Star Wars Royal Guards complete with force pikes that electrocute their prey. The Iron Maiden like skull creature is a nice touch wrapped around a dystopian apocalyptic framework. The riffs at the four minute mark are superb, and it moves into a Slayer like metal feel at the 6 minute mark, as dynamic as anything on the metal scene today. A super fast lead break takes it away to the final chorus and mega fast riff. It ends the album on a high note.

So there you have it. It delivers and the news is good overall apart from some lapses in to mediocrity in the second half of the album. There are at least 4 killer tracks that will have the Metallica universe buzzing; namely "Atlas", "Moth", "Halo" and "Bone"; as good as anything I have heard from Metallica. The other tracks are not so high standard but still deliver a whallop in their own right. It will appease the depraved Metallica fans who have to wait so long in between albums, and for those who were not that impressed with the Lulu album prior. It will be interesting to hear how other fans feel about this but I was underwhelmed apart from the aforementioned highlights. It should have been a masterpiece given the experience and undeniable talent but a lot of this album feels lazy and uninspired. It deserves 3.5 stars for the great tracks without a doubt.

HEMINA Nebulae

Album · 2014 · Progressive Metal
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Hemina, Australia’s answer to Dream Theater, have released their second album and it is a genuine delight. Hemina released an excellent album in 2012 “Synthetic” that really impressed me with its blend of metal and spacey musicianship. It is an album I would recommend to the prog metal fan who does not like to be constantly bombarded with speedy riffs, over produced complexity or death growls, and recommended for those who love haunting atmospheres, compelling lyrics, strong melodies and virtuoso arrangements. This followup album “Nebulae” is again a blend of crunching metal riffs juxtaposed with melodic keyboards and soul wrenching vocals. The vocals, as previous, are in the accomplished hands of Douglas Skene and his loved one Jessica Martin. Douglas is a busy guitarist, with involvement in a variety of other Prog related projects, and with Hemina he is able to shine with some fret melting lead breaks and killer riffs. His vocals always remind me of the type heard on Pain of Salvation albums, indeed the band are similar to the sound of Kamelot or Symphony X in places, and Jessica’s vocals may remind some of After Forever or Nightwish at times. It is a clear tone and easy on the ears, with easily recognizable lyrics. Jessica’s vocals enhance the sound, with beautiful resonance and haunting clarity. I believe an angelic voice can soothe the soul, and in the same way as is heard on many Ayreon albums, the addition of a female vocalist is always a welcome sound after a lot of male vocals. It balances out all the heaviness of aggressive guitar riffs and pounding drums. Jessica plays bass also and this strikes out effectively with some outstanding keyboards by Phill Eltakchi. The whole sound is fleshed out by Mitch Coull, also adept on acoustic and electric guitars, and plays some blindingly brilliant lead solos.

The lyrics are important in understanding the conceptual ideas behind the album. Each song is given a one word title and follows an emotional journey of searching in the darkness of despair and coming out of the night with a sense of hope and one final promise. On the way the protagonist has to battle the trials we all face but in the struggles there is strength leading to building up of character, and through strength of character comes hope. Then there is the literal meaning that has a science fiction element, but one can interpret this as they choose such is the ambiguity of the concept, and this is one of the drawcards of Hemina. Douglas Skene describes the concept as being centered around “lucid dreaming and the exploration of possible worlds dominated solely by particular human emotions and experiences in isolation. It's about the search for transcendence through love and the desire to be loved.”

The journey begins with ‘Before’, the lyrics hinting at the dreamscape concept; “I thought true love would make it easy if we played our parts, two souls hovering, floating, gliding for a counterpart”. The music builds gradually and then breaks into a lone keyboard seguing seamlessly into ‘Nightlives’. A multi tracked vocal is heard as a wild guitar phrase crunches along a forced percussion figure. The lyrics centre on the lucid dreaming; “In my waking world I can’t walk through these walls, or feed my hands to each other, oh, eye to eye with my watch face, to me its flickering, lucidly I forge my nebulae.” The latter lyric is sung with an aggressive growl, though the majority of vocals are clean and harmonised with multi tracked voices. Douglas Skene is in his element on this album, really powering out some excellent vocals. There are sudden bursts of sound in an ambient section that has a dramatic effect. A keyboard and lead guitar solo rounds off this indelible highlight, making this a great start to the album.

‘Freedom’ cranks along a genuine metal blast beat rhythm, with provocative lyrics; “set the masses free and destroy minority”. Some forced growls sounding like Devin Townsend are heard in places to great effect. I particularly love the jagged guitar rhythms. This one really grows on you after a few listens and the lead break is absolutely killer, reverbs, delays and huge string bends, merging into a frenetic keyboard solo. Coull’s lead guitar playing is a speed blur of frenetic picking and up sweeps. A final effect of a helicopter and air raid siren adds to the concept.

‘Lust’ surprises with a funkadelic groove reminiscent of late 70s Disco. Jessica has fun playfully plucking out a bassline that comes straight out of the Earth Wind and Fire Museum of funky bass hooks. The sound works as the song is about lust, and what can be more lustful than 70s porno funk grooves? A salacious hook locks in as chaotic percussion and bass warbles about. It’s nice to hear Jessica passionately duet with Douglas. The lyrics are compelling focussing on unrequited love; “I picked you out from across the room in this white light, so bright.” The soothing keyboards are counterbalanced by heavy passages of guitar, though the music is always allowed to breathe. The music is a testament to the innovative creative talents from the group that were only hinted at in the debut. The band go into full flight on this track and plunge deep into the steamy waters of quirky pop and dance at times, strange bedfellows I agree but Hemina make it work somehow.

‘Soulmates’ is a calming atmospheric track reverberating with acoustic vibrations. There is a romantic sense of mystery in the lyrics; “walking together, growing strong, amidst this void we found our call”. The song floats on an air of keyboards and acoustics as vocals caress the spaces between, with some of Douglas Skene’s best work and Jessica answers with emotive angst. The singing is exceptional on this album, and I particularly love how Jessica and Douglas are able to balance each other’s styles on soulful, melancholy songs such as ‘Soulmates’; it is truly beautiful. The twin lead break is also awesome with howling string bends and fast fingering echoing the turgid romance in the lyrics.

‘Strength’ follows, with staccato meat cleaver chops of metal chunks blasting over manic synths. This is a heavy song after the previous melancholia. In the lead break there is a fractured rhythm and some blazing riffs with duel guitar playing. The keys chime in with sweeping washes of string pads as the pacey rhythm gallops along in contrast. After more singing a stunning lead break takes the song out, with a flurry of speed trills and lightning fingering. The lyrics are mysterious and draw one in; “I head to unseen waters toward a light that is lovingly familiar, a figure glimmers in the distant sunset, the me I’d dreamed of with a little more strength.”

‘Loss’ keeps a steady rhythm with metal distortion and a strong melody. The lyrics are intriguing; “I want to thank you for sparing me the years or empty hope, strung along for what seemed like a legacy”. The melody is difficult to capture but there is so much happening at such a frenetic pace that it does not matter. The guitars are complemented by huge cloudbursts of synth.

‘Hope’ jumps along an odd meter with forceful passionate vocals that are the dominant force here, with some enticing lyrics, "my world a sphere of ice and me its cold insides, stars warm my heart the distant nebulae.” An ambient opening warms up ‘Promise’; a song with an optimistic note. The metal blasts are prevalent soon as Jessica and Douglas sing “promise me you’ll try eternally, I need someone who will grow.” The shattered rhythms are jarring to the ear and there is an ascending melody, and a soothing outro.

‘Otherworldly’ takes things out with Hammond sounds and a raucous chorus; “through the wormhole and rise to another frame, frame of reference free of a world of blame.” The song takes some twists and turns with sudden departures in volume and pace, quiet reflective moments concluding the conflict in the concept; “reach down inside and realise what you’ve lost, it’s simple to find if you’ve even got a heart.” A choppy riff is heard over a fast keyboard phrase. Some very powerful vocals follow, and it breaks into a classical piano passage, then the grinding metal riffs return, fracturing time signatures, and a final spoken narrative section over ethereal keyboards. The sheer force of musical virtuosity is astonishing on this album.

A new project “Venus” is still in the pipeline and hopefully will see the light of day in the near future, but till then “Nebulae” will continue to excite listeners with accomplished musicianship and mesmirising themes. There are throughout adventurous basslines and sporadic blitzing drums. The dynamic lead guitar breaks and keyboard flourishes are incredible. Hemina inject odd time sigs and intricate layers of instruments to create some remarkable musical compositions. Overall ”Nebulae” is yet another solid release from Hemina that delivers outstanding prog metal on a plate served up with a slice of funk, diced up with distorted guitar riffs and a nice garnish of spacey atmospheres wrapped around a concept of lucid dreaming and the exploration of emotions.

ETHERSENS Your Wandering Ghost

Album · 2014 · Progressive Metal
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The new Ethersens album “Your Wandering Ghost” is a moody dark journey into the despair and loss experienced by Laurent Mora, lead vocalist for the band. The personal trauma is conveyed in the way he sings with passion and at times wracked in pain, and this emotional edge enhances the overall experience. The guitars blaze with a ferocity at times particularly on assaults such as the speed blasts of Reflect. The concept of the album involves the tragedy of a relationship, conveyed in powerful songs such as This Is Where You and I Part Ways, Livin’ Memory and Mourning Light, one of the highlights of the album.

There are some peaceful passages of mournful guitar such as the outro of Waking Disorder and in particular the opening cut of the album Two for One Mind. The atmosphere is rather bleak in these moments but causes one to reflect on what we have and we may lose along the way. I like the style of the band, in particular the way the raspy vocals integrate within a dirty guitar sound. The guitars of Mickaël André and Johan Bourrut ring out consistently and the music does not rely on killer riffs and lead guitar finesse, but an overall saturated sound that is raucous without becoming overbearing.

Perhaps the theme is better conveyed in the lyrics to the closing song, “To Live Is to Forget”, “Everything comes to an end, so now we can’t forgive, everything clings to a new start so now I can’t forget, a lifetime is way too long.” Overall the album delivers the type of Avant metal that has great appeal, without all the lead breaks and choppy cleverness, but rather is soaked in heartfelt emotion.

RUSH Clockwork Angels Tour

Live album · 2013 · Hard Rock
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This Rush live CD is identical in musical content to the DVD released under the same title “Clockwork Angels Tour”. The set lists are in 3 parts generally opening with an 80s set nicely pitched within Geddy Lee’s vocal range. It feels a bit like a reimagining of the live “A Show of Hands” set and is almost identical in the first half. There is very little from any of the 70s back catalogue that many would argue is the best Rush era so it is a risk to ignore the classic 70s. Personally I think it is nice to hear some different songs for a change though I missed Bytor and the Snow Dog, La Villa Strangiata, Xanadu and especially Working Man. The reworking of all the 80s songs are better than the studio versions, much heavier and better production, not as tinny as the retro 80s versions, so the CD grabbed my interest from the first strains of Subdivisions. Alex Lifeson’s lead breaks are fantastic, and at times very different to the studio versions. Neil Peart has no less than 3 extended drum solos on this concert. Geddy is wonderful on bass and especially the synths on this concert.

Set One consists of Subdivisions from “Signals”, and from “Power Windows” The Big Money, Territories, and Grand Designs, one of the only tracks not on “A Show of Hands”. Rush revisit “Hold Your Fire” with Force Ten, and “Grace Under Pressure” with The Body Electric, featuring those memorable lyrics “One humanoid escapee, One android on the run, Seeking freedom beneath a lonely desert sun”. Then the band rock out with The Analog Kid from “Signals” that I always love to hear. Another one from “Roll The Bones” is next, the bittersweet beauty of Bravado with potent lyrics sung so meaningfully here “If we burn our wings, Flying too close to the sun, If the moment of glory Is over before its begun”. The best track on this Set is perhaps Far Cry from “Snakes And Arrows” sounding vibrant and electrifying on the live stage, though it must be seen to really appreciate it as the flames and spectrum lights are mesmirising.

Disk Two is Set Two which is the Clockwork Angels Set with 9 tracks featured; Caravan, Clockwork Angels, The Anarchist, Carnies, The Wreckers, Headlong Flight, Halo Effect, Seven Cities of Gold, Wish Them Well, The Garden, and a drum solo thrown in for good measure. It is a powerhouse performance and definitely worth hearing or even viewing on the DVD, the best way to experience it, especially to watch the amazing light show and Steampunk décor of the stage. The Clockwork Angels String Ensemble add much to the songs and enhance each track with Cello and Violins eloquently adding ambience and dramatic nuances. Peart’s drum solo Drumbastica is spine tingling with all the trimmings of his usual awesome speed drumming.

CD 3 is a collection of crowd pleasers and oddities including Dreamline from “Roll the Bones”, and The Percussor (I) Binary Love Theme (II) Steambanger s Ball (drum solo), another Peart moment, with weird effects and sound clashes. The band reappear to crank out Red Sector A from “Grace Under Pressure”, a brilliant version of YYZ from “Moving Pictures”, and fret melting fingering on Spirit of Radio from “Permanent Waves”. The encore consists of a grand version of classic rush with Tom Sawyer, and then we are treated to the brilliant crunching irregular chords of 2112. This is the end of the concert but the CD features the same bonus tracks as on the DVD, namely a fascinating soundcheck recording of Limelight, virtually a karaoke version with Lee missing most lyrics out in the rehearsal. Middletown Dreams, from “Power Windows”, is next, then The Pass from “Presto”, and finally Manhattan Project, a better version than the one from “Power Windows”.

Admittedly this CD cannot beat the DVD experience as it adds so much when you can actually relive the band onstage goofing around and enjoying themselves with an appreciative crowd and some mind bending lighting effects. However this CD package is great on its own steam(punk), clock(work)ing over 3 hours of live music, so it comes highly recommended for Rushaholics and Heavy Prog lovers worldwide.

JINETES NEGROS Tawa Sarira

Album · 2013 · Hard Rock
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Jinetos Negros, an Argentinian prog metal band, first came to my attention when it was sitting lovingly on a proggers list of the best 10 albums for 2013. Naturally this album “Tawa Sarira” intrigued me but I was surprised at the musical direction of the band, whose name incidentally means Black Riders, taken from a poem by Nené Dinzeo. First and foremost it is not a prog metal band in any sense of the word, at least not this album. Metal denotes at least some distorted guitar riffing and heavy rhythms in drums and bass and it delivers neither. Instead this one is replete with violin, orchestra, piano breaks and Gentle Giant whimsy complete with melodic high register voices.

There is a semblance of distortion on the guitars in ‘Corazón y Naranjas’ but the overall style is heavy prog at best. The voice harmonies are pleasant and I like the way the band blend piano with rock guitars. Octavio Stampalia is a great keyboard player and I like the style of guitarists Marcelo Ezcurra, also on vocals, and Eduardo Penney. The drums are courtesy of Ricardo Penney, backed on bass by Alex Yamashiro.

There is a hint of Canterbury at times such as on the jaunty ‘Canción del Océano’. The band sing in their own language that may or may not appeal to the mainstream audience but they sing well. On this track the piano is outstanding as virtuoso as Rick Wakeman at times. I like how midway through this there is an orchestra fanfare and medieval sounding keyboards. In fact the track definitely has that medieval Gryphon sound or Wakeman in his Elizabethan mood. There is even a flute to enhance this atmosphere. The sound is uplifting and bright at all times. The style changes at the end with a blistering lead solo. This is a highlight of the album.

Minimalist piano opens ‘Suene Tu Milagro’ sung with feeling and quiet reflection by Excurra. The violins have a melancholy resonance and the music builds emotionally into orchestrated passages of beauty. A more dramatic orchestrated approach is heard on ‘Shawarma’ and tribal percussion reminding me of a movie soundtrack. The slicing violins are well performed and the tom toms reminiscent of African music. The singing is more forceful but still maintains a clean tone. The mouth harp is even heard on this and it features a high pitched lead guitar break and a ton of sweeping strings along with some heavier guitars.

‘Amada Inmortal’ opens with a stirring string section and a wonderful bassline drives it. The swirling synth solo is nicely played and eventually a much heavier guitar distortion comes in. ‘Luna de India’ is dominated by violins and operatic choral vocals that echo the main vocal. It is rather a grand soundscape but the guitars are present to bring in a rock feel. I like the sound the band generate but still feel lost without knowing the lyrics.

There is a touch of cinematic drama on the rousing ‘El Eterno Retorno’ with grandiose violins and a building melody. The tune is memorable and I like the way the lead guitar is unleashed to execute a solo in the intro. Later there is a synth solo that sound similar to Rudess’ Haken Continuum keyboard fingerboard style. There is a lot of grand piano on this too. It is a more symphonic sound than I had expected overall on the album. ‘Esas Trampas’ continues the violin orchestration and is accompanied by rather theatrical vocals. It suddenly changes into a heavier style when the guitar riff breaks in.

‘Las Cuatro Verdades’ has a piano intro, followed by an organic guitar and synth sound. The choral vocals are operatic similar to any rock opera I have heard. There is even a reminder of some of the work of Therion though this is less heavy in that regard. The drums are a showcase on this track well worth checking out. At 2:30 there is a fabulous synth and lead trade off in the instrumental section. The band really radiate a grandiose atmosphere and the imposing presence of the violins are accompanied by flute passages and swirling synth explorations; another highlight of excellent musicianship.

‘El Velo’ opens with a heartbeat and then some beautiful chiming keyboard flourishes sweep over. the vocals are handled with sensitivity and flair. ‘Purgatorio’ has a dramatic intro of horns and strings as though it were a film soundtrack. The eerie synth melody works well on the scape of violins and rumbling drums. There is a really nice bassline also and I certainly know I cannot fault the musicianship of the band in these moments. By the time the cool heavy guitar riff enters this is already another highlight of the album. Even the vocals are approached with a heavier style rather than crooned and harmonised. The spoken dialogue intriguing and well supported by operatic chants. A quiet musical interlude follows with astonishing melodic resonance and some distorted guitar crashes before a grinding lightning fingered organ solo dominates. The sound even reminded me of the Hammond sound of the 70s. Towards the end there is a throbbing sound and a finale crescendo with multi tracked vocals and grand melodies. ‘Purgatorio’ is indeed one of the greatest tracks on this album.

‘A los Ojos Bellos’ is next with Gothic cathedral pipe organ and delicate horns in the intro. The synths sound like the synth sound in Europe’s ‘Final Countdown’ intro if you remember that retro 80s gem. Again there are Argentine lyrics followed by lead break, piano and some acoustic vibrations. A young female voice is heard in this section that enhances the atmosphere. An angelic choir of voices enters and it feels like the finale as the voices build over stirring lead guitars and a Wakemanish synth fanfare. The pace quickens with heavier guitars and multi tracked vocals. The last track is ‘Tawa Sarira Outro’, a short piece with wind howling, deep African like chants and clicking sticks as high register vocals sing a pretty melody.

Overall I really enjoyed hearing this operatic symphonic heavy prog album. There is more symphonic elements than I was prepared for but most of my favourite prog is Symphonic so this was a sheer delight to discover. I am still at a loss as to the moniker of metal as I heard none of that, however this is a great exploration of orchestrated symphonic rock that is some of the best Argentinian prog I have heard.

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