Renacer - Senderos del alma 4/5

Reviewed: 7-13-07


1. Nueva sangre
2. Alucinado
3. Senderos del tiempo
4. Volver a sonar
5. Guerrero inmortal
6. Estrella negra
7. Madre tierra
8. Un nuevo sol
9. Mucho mejor
10. Lejos de mi tierra
11. El juego del destino

Back in 2003, Spanish-language metal was still near the peak of its creative and commercial success. Thanks to now-defunct Arise Records, Renacer from Argentina contributed their 's/t' CD to the tidal wave of high quality Spanish metal. Sporting a sound with elements of power metal, traditional metal, and melodic metal, Renacer were not as traditional as Tierra Santa, not as European-power flavored as Avalanch or Northwind, and certainly not as speedy as Azeroth. Perhaps the best band comparison would be fellow overlooked Argentinians Imperio, another fine group from that same era. I'm not sure that many heard that 2003 's/t' CD, but I thought it was superb. Then Arise went belly up, the Spanish-language metal tidal wave crested and crashed, and I never heard another word about Renacer, so I assumed they were toast. Finished. Done. Au revoir. Hasta la vista. You get the picture.

Thanks to my friends at Stormspell Records, however, I recently learned that Renacer independently released a follow-up called 'Senderos del Alma', so naturally I snapped it up without hesitation. As is the case with so many acts, adversity bred discontent and instability for Renacer, as only vocalist Christian Bertoncelli and bassist Fernando Ullua remain from the Arise Records days, which is more the pity because the departed drummer and guitarist were the primary songwriters, and the ex-drummer had even recorded, produced, mixed and mastered the 's/t' CD. So these were major line-up changes. What's more, Renacer decided to add a full-time keyboardist, Hernan Vassalo, for this CD, whereas he had been limited to guest appearances on the previous recording.

Major props go out to Bertoncelli and Ullua for staying the course, keeping a firm hand on the tiller, and creating a solid successor to the 's/t' Arise release. Stylistically, the band tread the same ground they did previously, with speedier power metal tunes and more laidback melodic metal moments as well. The keyboards are certainly more prominent now (but not annoyingly so), which stands to reason given the integration of Vassalo as a full-fledged member. Also, the production and mastering jobs are not as good, perhaps because of the DIY nature of this recording and perhaps because the ex-drummer is no longer present to handle the technical side of the recording process. In particular, Bertoncelli's voice is too loud and perhaps too dry in the mix and the overall volume of the recording is too low, which may suggest some problem in the mastering process. And there's an obvious screw-up on the last second or 2 of the CD, as a riff begins and is suddenly chopped off. Strange, that.

Minor technical quibbles aside, the most important thing about 'Senderos del alma' is the quality of the material, which is quite good. Speedsters "Alucinado" and "El juego del destino" are guaranteed to snap some necks, "Estella negra" has a "woah-woah" sing-a-long part to die for, and "Madre tierra" and "En nuevo sol" represent everything that's good about catchy melodic Spanish-language metal. It's nothing complex, nothing too aggressive, just catchy melodies, hummable guitar harmonies and impassioned vocals. To be sure, not every song is a winner (the barroom boogie tune "Mucho mejor" would have been best left on the rehearsal room, for instance), but Renacer have come up with a platter sure to please fans of a style that has been all but ignored in the international heavy metal community in the last couple of years. Incidentally, I understand that Renacer are still together today and that they recently released a covers CD ('En versiones vol. 1'), featuring tunes from Dio, Priest, Helloween, and others, with a special guest appearance from Mago de Oz frontman Jose. Could be cool, so I'll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for it.




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