Albatrhoz - La vision de los profetas 3.5/5
1. Preludio a la existencia
3. La vision de los profetas
4. El martir del golgota
6. Llorar en el infierno
8. La ultima agonia
One typically does not think of Mexico as a hotbed for traditional heavy metal. Judging by the recent Therion live DVD (which was recorded in Mexico City) and the enthusiastic reports I've heard about the Monterrey Metal Fest, our brothers and sisters to the south surely are steadfast in their loyalty to metal, but very few practitioners have emerged from that nation to achieve any level of international acclaim. The newcomers in Albatrhoz are out to change that perception. From what I gather, the quartet have been together since 1998, yet 'La vision de los profetas' (which was recorded in 2005 and released in 2006) marks their debut full-length CD. Don't let the black metallish logo and cover art scare you, as Albatrhoz are firmly entrenched in the power/traditional style of metal that we love here at the Metal CD Ratings site.
Upon hearing opener "Genesis" for the first time, I immediately recalled the glory days of Spain's one-time metal kings, Tierra Santa, circa 1997's 'Medieval' and 1999's 'Legendario', especially. The similarities abound, in terms of the riffing style, the vocal melodies, the arrangements, and the crackling uptempo energy of the thing. For Spanish-language metal aficionados like me, this early Tierra Santa influence is a very good thing, indeed. In case you're not familiar with Tierra Santa's classic works, think 'Piece'/'Powerslave'-era Iron Maiden with exciting songwriting and clear Spanish vocals. Albatrhoz don't lift from Maiden arrangements and guitar lines as brazenly as Tierra Santa did, and they don't rely on harmony guitars to the extent that Tierra Santa did, but otherwise the resemblance is undeniable. Albatrhoz singer Ruben Bocanegra (who also plays guitars and is the principal songwriter for the band) has more than a passing vocal similarity to Tierra Santa's Angel, albeit a little weaker and slightly wavering at times on this maiden effort.
With 7 songs (plus a nice, peaceful, folky clean guitar intro) in its 35-minute running time, 'La vision de los profetas' is a bit on the short side, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. The 4 speediest tracks ("Genesis", "El martir del Golgota", "Llorar en el infierno" and "La ultima agonia") are all superb, sporting headbanging riffage, catchy choruses, and awesome melodies. The other songs are all strong too, with the lone exception being the overdrawn ballad, "Crucifixion", which overstays its welcome by a substantial margin. The production is surprisingly good for what appears to be a self-financed affair, inasmuch as all of the instruments are relatively clear and powerful. While some may criticize it as thin by modern standards, I'm especially fond of the killer old-school guitar tone that screams 80s authenticity, rather than this mechanical, overprocessed, computerized tone that has become all the rage today.
I've always had a special affinity for Spanish-language metal. A few years ago, I was awash in prosperity, as the likes of Tierra Santa, Avalanch, Saratoga, Azrael, Northwind, Warcry, and Ankhara were all at their peak and releasing top-notch material. Today, however, nearly all of those acts have either faded into obscurity or are releasing subpar, watered-down music that cannot hold a candle to their glory years. In this dismal climate, Albatrhoz represent a great hope for the future of this style of metal. Unfortunately it appears that they're finding the road to fame and fortune to be paved with bad breaks and disappointment. A notation in the booklet suggests that 3/4 of the recording line-up for this CD have since been replaced, with the lone holdover being leader Ruben. It does not appear that the band have any Internet presence to speak of, although they do have a page on Myspace. My advice: Take heart, lads, as you're onto something special. If Ruben and his new bandmates keep moving forward, stay the course and don't let the obstacles of geography, finances, and record label non-support grind them down, they may someday release a landmark CD in the Spanish-language metal genre. For now, though, fans of the style should seek out this very fine debut CD without delay.
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