Narval - s/t 3/5

Reviewed: 3-13-09


1. Dance of the burning moonlight
2. The cold forest song
3. Black widow
4. My gypsy lady
5. Siren's call
6. Blood pact
7. My faith
8. Ring of sorrow
9. As I die
10. Hero's farewell
11. Requiem
12. King of dreams
13. The diary of Satan

Consisting of Dantesco members Erico "La Bestia" (vocals) and Dennis Torres (guitars, keys and drums), plus Alas Negras' Raly Vega (bass), Narval is something of a Puerto Rican metal super group. And it shows in the music of this debut, which blends classic metal, doom metal, true metal and a bit of traditional power metal into a fine mix. The songwriting is near faultless, with good melodies, strong riffs and just the right amount of uncertainty in the song structures.

Initially I was concerned about the drums, which were programmed; but Raly Vega's warm bass lines complement the synthetic drums perfectly so the rhythm section is pleasing to the ears.

With this many positives, why the 3/5 rating? Well, as talented as he is, Erico's vocals are too much to take on a CD with 13 tracks clocking in at over 60 minutes. He multi-tracks nearly all of his vocals, so there are 2 or more layers of vocals constantly attacking the listener. With so many layers of vocals throughout each song, the impact of the choruses are reduced significantly. The verses, bridges and choruses can sometimes be indistinguishable. Why he does this with Dantesco and now Narval, I do not understand. Erico has a powerful voice, one that needs no assistance, particularly during the verses.

Another issue with his voice is his variety... Erico clearly has a deep bag of vocal tricks, from the ability to sing at a grittier low level to the controlled screeching at a high register. But this Narval CD demands a more low key approach, and Erico sings waaaay over the top on material that doesn't call for it.

And lastly, there is the accent. Puerto Rico is virtually the 51st state and yet Erico's accent is more pronounced than, say, singers coming out of Brazil and Italy. It shouldn't be that way.

Look, for those that love Dantesco's output, definitely pick up Narval's debut. Narval has similar dark themes in the lyrics, but (at least to my ears) the music is considerably more catchy. The Stormspell label describes Narval as "Epic and Dramatic Traditional Metal" and compares the music to bands like Dio (check out track 12 "King of dreams"), Warlord, Manowar ('Into glory ride' era) and Black Sabbath (circa 'Mob rules', 'Heaven and hell'), which I firmly agree with. I'd also include Doomsword as a reference.




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