Quelonio - Vicio y virtud 4/5

Reviewed: 2-1-10


1. Dame placer
2. Juego de mirades
3. Ave fenix
4. Vicio y virtud
5. V
6. El grito de la realidad
7. Por la espalda
8. Tu fuego
9. Buscando una luz (pt. II)
10. Aqui estoy
11. Cima de la eternidad
12. Susurrando al viento

Here's something you don't see every day: A female fronted traditional heavy metal band from Valencia, Spain, whose CD is being distributed by a Japanese company, Red Rivet Records. Quelonio had apparently been languishing under the radar in their homeland since 1996, with numerous line-up and stylistic changes over the years. Now Red Rivet is raising the band's profile in the international metal community by blanketing the 'zines with copies of Quelonio's new CD. Not quite sure how that business relationship came to pass, but it's a fortuitous development indeed because 'Vicio y virtud' is a worthy listen for those enamored of the Spanish metal scene or female fronted metal bands generally.

The press release describes Quelonio's music as a mixture of "heavy classic and modern metal" with a "personal sound". I agree whole-heartedly with the "heavy classic" part, but the other descriptors leave me scratching my head a bit. 'Vicio y virtud' is high-energy, uptempo, guitar-driven classic metal all the way, cut from the same cloth as Warlock, Backslash, Crystal Viper, old Ignitor, Sister Sin and that ilk. There are minimal keyboards, no symphonic flourishes, and no perceptible modern touches. Instead, this is hammer-down old-school metal with Maiden-esque guitar passages, sing-a-long choruses, and plenty of speed. Quelonio have clearly studied their Iron Maiden, their Gamma Ray, their (old) Tierra Santa, their Saratoga, and so on, because they excel at this style of music. The CD really hits its stride beginning at track 3, where the triple punch of "Ave fenix", "Vicio y virtud" and "V" kicks in with excellent guitar melodies, bucketloads of double-bass drumming, and infectious enthusiasm. Notwithstanding these highlights, 'Vicio y virtud' remains remarkably consistent for most of its 12-song, 54-minute duration, only tailing off a bit towards the end, especially with the closing ballad, "Susurrando al viento".

The CD's lyrics are sung entirely in Spanish, so if foreign-language lyrics are an impediment to your metallic enjoyment, you may need to look elsewhere. But if you're not bothered by the language barrier or if, like me, you're enchanted by the sound of the Spanish language set to classic heavy metal music, then Quelonio may be just the thing. Vocalist Teresa Broseta is the band's newest member, having joined Quelonio after all the music on this CD had already been written and recorded, but you'd never guess it from the final result. Broseta's confident, clear, powerful and versatile voice (reminding me of a somewhat cleaner Marta Gabriel (Crystal Viper)) fits Quelonio's style perfectly, and if I didn't know better I'd swear that these tunes were conceived specifically with Broseta's voice in mind. Fans of the Doro Pesch school of female vocals will find much to their liking here.

I've read reviews that pan 'Vicio y virtud' for lacking originality. They're probably correct. For a particularly obvious example, the opening bars of one song ("Buscando una luz (pt. II)", if I'm not mistaken) invariably prompt my wife to start "singing" the guitar melodies from Iron Maiden's "The trooper". There's certainly more than a passing resemblance. Frankly, I could care less about innovation when the music is as well-written, well-performed and well-executed as it is here. What it comes down to is this: Does the idea of a cross between early Tierra Santa and latter-day Crystal Viper appeal to you? If it does, then you need to check out Quelonio. I have no idea what kind of distribution Red Rivet has or will have in the U.S., but it's worth going the extra mile to track down this gem of old-school Spanish metal done right.




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