Diabulus in Musica - Secrets 3.5/5

Reviewed: 7-1-10





Tracklist:

1. Renaissance
2. Come to paradise
3. Nocturnal flowers
4. Evolution's whim
5. New era
6. Liens in your eyes
7. Lonely soul
8. The seventh gate
9. Isthar
10. Under the shadow (Of a butterfly)
11. Beyond infinity
12. The forest of ashes
13. St. Michael's nightmare


Diabulus in Musica is a symphonic gothic metal band from Spain and this is their debut studio CD. Their songs are generally fast, heavy and crunchy with pervasive symphonic keys and choir. The song structures are straightforward and accessible, alternating between bombastic, high-energy passages often with symphonic power metal leads and more mid-paced atmospheric ones; most songs have an exceedingly catchy chorus and several of them quite surprise the listener with brief but explosive melodic black metal passages. The closest band comparison to Diabulus in Musica is certainly Epica, though overall the arrangements on 'Secrets' are less ambitious and lack the lush, heavily layered production that has come to characterize Epica’s CDs.

Without question the highlight of the CD is their female vocalist, Zuberoa Aznárez. She has some of the most beautiful and expressive vocals I have ever heard, and she effortlessly moves from soaring soprano to lightly operatic to simply gentle, smooth and enchanting. Her soprano style even more strongly invites comparisons to Epica, and her operatic style reminds the listener of Tarja-era Nightwish at their most epic. She is mesmerizing to listen to and I still marvel that she can sing over such a wide range of styles with equal excellence. The harsh vocals are primarily blackened death vocals; they are included in most of the songs as a brutal counterpoint to the beauty of the female vocals, as expected from this genre. Their infrequent but well-placed excursions into melodic black metal feature unusually harsh raspy black vocals.

It must be said that when 'Secrets' is good, it’s really good – there are some incredibly hooky passages and choruses that rival Epica at their best, and the variety in styles and tempos in their arrangements make for an engaging listen. It is also a joy to hear a band willing to craft songs in a style that used to be over-populated but now is well-represented by only a very few bands like Epica, Dawn of Destiny, Whyzdom, recent Elis, and perhaps Sirenia and Leaves’ Eyes. But the primary short-coming of this CD is the too frequent use of what might be described as “filler bombast”, for lack of a better term. Just as you become utterly engrossed in one of their songs they will drift into a non-descript bombastic usually instrumental passage; all metal bands do this to some extent but when these passages become so frequent that they disrupt the mood set by the killer ones then you end up with a somewhat frustrating listen. That said, Diabulus in Musica definitely have the ability to write top-tier music when they put their minds to it and I look forward to their next CD including a lot more of it.



CHRIS




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