As many of you know, for the most part Symphonic Metal just ain’t my thing. It takes a lot, and I mean A LOT to get me into a band of this type. Obviously I enjoy NIGHTWISH, EPICA, and one or two of the other usual suspects, but it’s never been my go-to genre because a lot of it sounds like hot air. That said, I was more than impressed when I heard Spain’s own DIABULUS IN MUSICA recently. When combining classical music with metal music sometimes the results skew too far one way over the other. But never have I heard a band get the balance just right…until now. Heavy guitars, thunderous, galloping drums, choirs, orchestration, and a lead singer who’s not trying to overpower us with her voice make this album Dirge For the Archons (out now, Napalm Records), and this band highly enjoyable.
“Earthly Illusions” serves as my perfect introduction to the collective talents of Alexey Kolygin (guitar), Odei Ochoa (bass), David Carrica (drums), Gorka Elso (keyboards), and finally, vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez, who is destined to become one of my favorites. I love her style and delivery. And the group behind her plays with a vengeance. “Marble Embrace” has a potent blend of guitar and keys combined with some growled vocals that act as a call and response, adding a nice flair. There’s a ringing atmospheric quality to “Invisible” that paints quite a picture before we get to the best song on the disc, “Crimson Gale.”Carrica goes completely mental on drums, the rest of the band is out for blood, and Aznárez gives her best performance as well.
“Ring Around Dark Fairies’ Carousel” sounds exactly like the twisted, creepy circus you think it would be, while “A Speck In the Universe” is a slow, lush, gorgeous number featuring strings and woodwinds. ‘Hiding From You” features cleans from guest singer Omar Pizarro and he and Aznárez play to each other’s vocal strengths throughout. One of the more unique tracks is “The Voice of Your Dreams.” In addition to its symphonic qualities, there is a progressive element as well that made for some interesting listening. “Bane” is another ballad that is very well-executed, and “The River of Loss” utilizes the choral arrangements to full effect.
Closing the disc is slow tune #3 in “Zauria.” This is one of the only issues I have with this album, the pacing. It feels front-loaded and top-heavy with most of the heavier, more intense material in the first half. They could have broken it up a bit better, but that’s a minor gripe on an otherwise very good record. The songs I did like are enough to make me a definite fan of DIABULUS IN MUSICA moving forward, and I can safely recommend Dirge For the Archons whether or not you’ve heard this group before. If Symphonic Metal is your bag, then grab your copy today.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Crimson Gale”, “The Voice of Your Dreams”, “Hiding From You”, “Earthly Illusions”, “Marble Embrace”