Tierra Santa - Apocalipsis 2.5/5

Reviewed: 4-22-05


1. Neron
2. Apocalipsis
3. Naci siendo libre
4. Tu Mision
5. Kamikaze
6. Rumbo a las estrellas
7. La ira del cielo
8. El grito de la tierra
9. Sonar con ella
10. Esta tierra es mia
11. Hermano del viento

Back in 1997, Tierra Santa were the first Spanish-language power metal band to capture my imagination. Branded as the Iberian Peninsula's answer to Iron Maiden, the band delivered 3 superb CDs in a row. To this day, 'Medieval', 'Legendario', and 'Tierras de leyenda' are landmark CDs of first-class dual-guitar Spanish metal that make me pine for the days when Steve Harris could write exceptional riffs and sparkling melodies like these. Singer/guitarist Angel is gifted with such a clear, emotive, expressive voice that I always felt like I understood him perfectly even though I took French as a foreign language in high school. Not surprisingly, Tierra Santa quickly ascended to the top of the Spanish metal heap on the wings of these 3 superlative CDs. Unfortunately, cracks began to appear in 2001 with the band's 4th CD, 'Sangre de reyes'. Although undoubtedly a strong CD in its own right, 'Sangre de reyes' altered Tierra Santa's winning formula by adding more noticeable keyboards and taking a (small) step away from the Maidenisms that made them great. The trend continued with 2002's 'Indomable', as a noticeable hard rock vibe began to creep into certain cuts.

I dared not hope that the band's 6th CD, 'Apocalipsis', would mark a return to their halcyon days. It's a good thing, because I would have been sorely disappointed. Considered in a vacuum, 'Apocalypsis' is a reasonably enjoyable effort of traditional power metal with hard rock influences. The title track, "Esta tierra es mia", and especially the speedy "Kamikaze" do stand out as top-notch power metal tunes that are sure to give those neck muscles a workout, and the remainder of the 41 minute running time slips by in a pleasant midtempo fog, with some nice guitar harmonies and catchy choruses that will exercise your toe, albeit not your neck. But the entire affair is distressingly laidback, with precious little of the fire and intensity that characterizes Tierra Santa's previous oeuvre. Those infernal keyboards are way too loud in the mix, offering up lines that would not have been out of place on a Bon Jovi or Van Halen recording in the 80s. "Rumbo a las estrellas" must be singled out for rebuke, an obvious nod to radio-friendly pastures with blatant AOR tendencies rivaling even the wimpiest material on Secret Sphere's 'Scent of human desire' CD or Skylark's 'Wings' CD.

When all is said and done, 'Apocalipsis' is easily the weakest effort in Tierra Santa's catalogue. Nonetheless, there are enough positives to keep it north of the dreaded Mendoza line (err, that's a rating of 2 or below) in my book. Angel and Arturo are a talented guitar duo, the vocals are very strong, the band can still write a compelling hook, and there are at least a few tracks worthy of the Tierra Santa legacy. Even the more hard rockish stuff is well done for what it is. The problem is that a band with Tierra Santa's remarkable pedigree can and should do better. I will listen to and enjoy 'Apocalipsis' as inoffensive background music, but that's about it. ¡Más suerte la próxima vez! (According to my Spanish-teacher sister in law, that means "better luck next time" amigos).




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