Female fronted symphonic metal is not usually my bag baby but a good friend of mine Maria Hereros – presenter of Sex To 9 on TotalRock radio for the last 10 years champions Diabulus In Musica so I left scepticism at the door and pinned me ears back.
Hailing from Pamplona in Northern Spain Diabulus In Musica have had a busy few years. This release Argia is their third since 2010 and offers 13 tracks of bombastic metal filled with beatific vocals in Spanish, English and Basque. Up front and centre are the vocal talents of Zuberoa Aznárez which are angelic and striking in equal measure. However this is no one trick Spanish horse. The music that compliments her pipes is packed full of melodic death metal that will keep the most ardent Gothenburg headsnapper content for hours. The opener Et Resurrexit giving way to From the Embers is a case in point. The latter combines soaring Power Metal leads with chugging spiky riffs to great effect with the deathly rasps of Gorka Elso who also handles keys.
Inner Force follows with a hint of Enter Shikari to the synths and samples. Surprisingly it works and the song benefits from the Euro dance sensibilities.
Next up Zuberoa is joined by Ailyn Giminez from Sirenia for “Furia de Libertad” . My Spanish is far too rusty to garner any comprehension of the track but the voices complement each other so well it doesn’t matter. The next track “Maitagarri” (Meaning beloved or darling in Basque) sounds like a middle ages love song. There is an air of Clannad about this one which makes sense considering the links between Celts and the Basque people. If you like Penny Whistles in your metal a la Waylander you will like this.
“Eternal Breeze” is like a Disney track and too saccharine for my tastes. Great vocal performance but it conjures up images of elongated cartoon princesses pining for rescue. Luckily “Mechanical Ethos” injects the metal back in crushing the candy floss. Erupting with a thunderous riff and a sample that sounds like a dentist drill we are back on the iron horse. “Spoilt Vampire” is up next and conjuring up images of R Pattz screaming “ I want an ipad …….NOW!” it instead delivers another blistering mix of symphonic and melodeath with a catchy (dare I say that) gruff chorus.
Therion’s Thomas Vikstrom turns up next for “Encounter at Chronos”. It reminded me Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman and a certain Phantom. Really not my cup of Darjeeling but will appeal to lovers of bombastic symphonic metal with operatic vox. “Healing” which follows returns to the formula I enjoy.
Finishing the album on a gentle ballad – “Indigo” should be a strange choice but it works and the use of woodwind and hand drums creates an earthy ambience which serves to bring me back to terra firma after the soaring melodies that came before.
Bright things afoot for these guys.
(7/10 Matt Mason)