EGREGOR — Pachakuti (review)

EGREGOR — Pachakuti album cover Album · 2020 · Symphonic Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Emerging from the far northern Chilean city of Arica, EGREGOR has so far released two albums beginning with 2015’s “Karma” and took off many years to craft the followup. Finally after setbacks due to the pandemic and other world madness, EGREGOR at last returned in 2020 with its sophomore offering PACHAKUTI which features more progressive compositions and higher octane metal heft than its debut and it’s making some waves around the world.

Led by guitarist Richard Iturra, the band is completed by bassist Alejandro Heredia, drummer Rodrigo Cerpa, guitarist / vocalist Giancarlo Nattino and the divine feminine charm of Magdalena Opazo on vocals. The band comes off somewhat as the Latin American version of Epica with lush symphonic orchestration, chugging metal heft and strewn out compositions that offer the possibilities of mixing in Andean folk music influences into a standardized from of European extreme metal.

The title PACHAKUTI is derived from the Aymara language with PACHA meaning “earth” and KUTI meaning “return" with themes revolving around the mythological world of the ancient South American indigenous peoples. The entire album is performed in the Spanish language so unless you speaka the lingo then you no get it, dig? Musically EGREGOR engages in a thick mash up of metal styles along with symphonic and folk influences. Atmospheric dominance is ubiquitous on PACHAKUTI with lush symphonic backdrops providing the heft of the album’s epic stature with the chunky metal parts merely adding a bombastic contrast.

While Magdalena’s feminine charm dominates the album’s sensual side, Giancarlo Nattino provides more extreme vocal contributions with angsty screams thus providing the classic beauty and the beast approach. The tracks are highly melodic steeped in not only contemporary metal chops oft from melodic death metal bands such as Arch Enemy but tinges of Andean flavors infused into the melodic scales. The dynamics vary between lusher piano driven ballad moments to the more dramatic chug-infused guitar riffing with the occasional guitar solo thrown in for good measure.

For all its magnanimous glory though, where PACHAKUTI falls short is in its ability to really stand out from the legions of similar minded prog metal acts that have appeared in great numbers in the last 20 years or so. Taking cues from various bands ranging from Epica, Nightwish and other female led symphonic metal bands, EGREGOR unfortunately doesn’t really strike me as a band that has much to offer outside of the fact they sing in Spanish and incorporate a few local folk flavors to the mix. Likewise Magdalena’s vocal range just doesn’t seem to have enough gusto to tackle the more operatic demands that this style of music requires to make it a compelling musical experience.

In the production department EGREGOR excels with beautiful lush atmospheres seamlessly blending together along with a well-defined separation of the sensual cadences with the more aggressive metal orotundity however most of the tracks are rather forgettable as EGREGOR doesn’t deviate significantly form the pre-established European model of status quo symphonic metal. Nevertheless PACHAKUTI is a decent albeit underwhelming slice of symphonic metal that showcases Chilean acts finding influences from North American and European extreme metal bands. While PACHAKUTI is hardly a bad listening experience, it seems the lofty goal of some sort of concept album isn’t matched by the actual results. Lots of room for improvement but certainly a band on the rise when compared to the lackluster “Karma” that preceded.
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