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El Cuervo de Poe - Ex libris 3.5/5

Reviewed: 5-1-12


1. Danza de la locura
2. La delgada linea
3. Eclipses
4. La llorona
5. Nostalgia de ti
6. Laberinto del nahual
7. Presagio
8. Espejo
9. Semilla de la vida
10. Lamento romanr
11. No fears
12. El jardin parte i

El Cuervo de Poe (“Poe’s Raven”) is a progressive gothic metal band from Mexico and this is their 2nd studio CD. Most of the songs feature an interplay between mid-paced melodic metal passages and driving, bombastic, often rocking lightly progressive instrumentals. The melodic metal passages alternate between warm, mellow, crunchy ones, and rhythmic catchy ones. The progressive instrumentals are especially well done, with just the right amount of time and tempo changes to keep them interesting without ever sounding forced or noodly. There is pervasive violin and frequent acoustic guitar, but almost no keys. There are ethnic world music touches on a few songs.

Their vocalist, Brenda Gaviño, is at first listen rather unassuming but she has an easy confident style that grew on me quickly. She is somewhat limited in range and usually sings somewhere between alto and soprano with brief, dramatic excursions to a soaring soprano. Although limited, her delivery is unusually smooth, pleasant and natural, with a very pleasant timbre that becomes quite engaging as the CD develops. She sings in Spanish on all but one song.

As for similar bands, certainly they have been influenced by Dream Theater and their clones, but El Cuervo de Poe take a much warmer, more gothic approach in their songwriting than most of those bands; perhaps they are best compared to a more progressive Autumn or Flowing Tears. Although the songs have a lot of interesting variety in melodies and riffs, even after several listens it’s difficult to remember any hooks, as none of the songs even includes a chorus. This may be a benefit or detriment, depending on one’s musical tastes, but for my tastes a few more hooks would have make ‘Ex libris’ a stronger and more memorable release; it’s quite involving when I give it a focused listen, but it’s not really suitable for casual listening.




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