Landevir - Inmortal 4/5

Reviewed: 9-5-08


1. Deuda eterna
2. Viaje sin retorno
3. Esclavos de una ilusion
4. El uitimo adios
5. Luces del mas alla
6. Las mil y una noches
7. Palabras de cristal
8. Oscuro amanecer
9. Tu seras la luz
10. Alba
11. El sueno se hara realidad

Spanish folk/metal heroes Mago de Oz cast a very long shadow, indeed. Although they remain virtually unknown on these shores, Mago are hugely popular in the Spanish-speaking world and command massive audiences on the Iberian peninsula and in Central America with their infectious combination of Iron Maiden, Skyclad, rock'n'roll and folk. Given the colossal appeal of Mago de Oz, it was perhaps inevitable that others would follow in their footsteps performing a similar style of music. We at Metal CD Ratings will be spotlighting a pair of these Spanish folk/metal contenders, Landevir and Saurom, in the next couple of site updates. This month is Landevir's turn to shine.

Their name may be unfamiliar, but Landevir are hardly newcomers to the folk/metal scene. Their debut, 'Leyendas medievales', dates back to 2003, with their sophomore outing, 'Suenos celtas', following in 2005. Both CDs are well-executed upbeat Spanish folk metal, with clear, smooth vocals and lots of flute and violin-propelled melodies to offset the crunchy guitars. The latter CD even includes a rollicking folk/metalized version of Survivor's "Eye of the tiger", with Spanish lyrics penned by Txus of Mago de Oz. The primary detractor from 'Leyendas medievales' and 'Suenos celtas' is the overabundance of lengthy instrumentals on each CD, which somewhat disrupts the flow. Fortunately, Landevir have learned from this mistake, as all 11 tracks on the band's new CD, 'Inmortal', are proper songs with vocals. Be forewarned, though, that brevity is not Landevir's strong suit, as just a single track on 'Inmortal' clocks in under 5 minutes, with the median length hovering around the 6-minute mark.

It is obvious from the extensive liner notes in the booklet that 'Inmortal' is a concept album, with no fewer than 4 pages of small-font text in Spanish explaining the story. My command of Spanish doesn't go much further than "Cerveza, por favor, amigo" and "Uno mas, gracias" so I'm afraid I'm of no help at all in deciphering the narrative. It seems to have something to do with vampires or something. But it really doesn't matter. What you need to know is that 'Inmortal' is a superb slab of ultra-catchy Spanish folky heavy metal blessed by tremendous melodies, memorable choruses, and great performances from the sextet. Vocalist/guitarist Francisco Gonzalvez has a confident, charismatic, emotional delivery with a mid-range timbre that captivates the listener. Flutist Pablo Guerra and violinist Carlos Juan offer up an endlessly entertaining array of sparkling folk melodies. And Gonzalvez and lead guitarist Jose Maria Jerez insure there's enough guitar firepower in the songs that the metal quotient is maintained at all times. I know that Mago de Oz are often criticized for being insufficiently "metal" but no similar accusation could be leveled at Landevir. To be sure, the material is diverse and there are some ballady and mellow tracks, but Landevir are a heavy metal band first and foremost. 'Inmortal' also includes well-placed guest vocal contributions from Miguel A. Franco (of fellow Spanish folk metallers Saurom, who will be featured on this site next month) and Cristina Sanchez that elevate a couple of songs substantially, while no doubt furthering the lyrical concept, as well.

If you're a newcomer to the Spanish folk/metal genre, Mago de Oz remain the undisputed kings of this style, so you should immediately purchase 'Finistierra' and 'Gaia II' (as well as the brilliant 'Folktergeist' live set) so you can see what you've been missing. But if you're already a Mago fan and have a craving for more top-shelf Spanish folk/metal, with a bit more of a metal orientation than recent Mago, you owe it to yourself to seek out Landevir's 'Inmortal'. Songs like "Deuda eterna", "Las mil y una noches", and the epic speedster "El sueno se hara realidad" rank among the most exuberant folk/metal songs I've ever heard, and show that Landevir are prepared to give the masters a run for their money.




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