Feanor - Invencible 3.5/5

Reviewed: 10-13-06


1. Intro (Feanor's oath)
2. Invencible
3. Entre nosotros
4. Leviathan
5. Mas sangre
6. Feanor
7. Nerdanel
8. Noble savage
9. En la huida
10. Muy lento es tu sufrir
11. Estrella del norte
12. En alas de tempestad

Argentina has never been renowned as a heavy metal hotbed, but Feanor are hellbent to change all that and put their homeland on the metal map. As with so many underground acts, Feanor's story is one of ceaseless toil and sacrifice over a prolonged time period until their dream of releasing a CD to meaningful distribution is finally realized. In Feanor's case, the band was formed by bassist/songwriter Gustavo Feanor Acosta (could the middle name be a stage name? hmmmm) way back in 1996. Despite the years of oppression, naysayers and discouragement referenced in the liner notes, Acosta held fast to his vision and stayed true to his steel, even as Feanor's line-up was wracked by upheaval. Finally, a record deal was struck with up'n'coming Greek label Secret Port Records, but even then the recording process for 'Invencible' spanned nearly 2 arduous years, from August 2002 through April 2004. By all indications, this debut CD is a pure labor of love for Agosto and his bandmates, and the mere fact that it has seen the light of day is a symbol of triumph.

With Feanor, the name of the game is traditional true metal, with pounding rhythms and varying tempos. Visually, the video for "Estrella del norte", which is included on the CD, depicts a band in full metal regalia, wearing leather, wearing spikes, and ruling the night, with hands high and fists filling the air. I'm sure you get the idea. Obvious musical reference points would include the likes of Manowar, Majesty (Tarek even lends a guest solo to one cut), Wizard, Sacred Steel, heavier Virgin Steele (some copies of this CD - not mine - even have a cover of VS's classic, "Noble savage"), and Paragon. If not for the Spanish lyrics, I would have supposed the band were German, as evinced by, for example, the pure Running Wild guitar section in "Leviathan" and just the overall staunch power and unwavering purity of the thing. No one will ever rave about the production aesthetic of 'Invencible', but it is certainly a serviceable sound job that does not seriously detract from the music. The songwriting ebbs and flows, but the good stuff is quite outstanding. Lead track "Invencible" is catchy, speedy, and all around cool. "Mas sangre" is more of a slow pounding epic, with hymnal choirs and even a few guttural growls tossed into the mix. The band's namesake, "Feanor", aspires to classic 'Into glory ride' of Manowar's formative years, with some degree of success.

Despite these strengths, my initial inclination was to give Feanor's debut a respectable middle-of-the-road rating of 3/5 because of a couple of shortcomings. In particular, while the band's material is good, it lacks an individual identity or an "own sound" that might stamp it with the distinctive mark of Feanor. Also, vocalist Maximiliano Basualdo, he of the "steel voice" according to the liner notes, works hard and doubtless has pure molten steel running through his veins, but he also has a propensity to exceed his range on the high end, with sometimes shaky, shrill results. After repeated spins, however, I was won over by Feanor's singularity of purpose, unbridled allegiance to the true metal cause, and solid songs like "Invencible". Besides, I can't help but pull for the underdog.




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