In Symphonic Metal circles it’s hard to find a more diverse and all encompassing band than Diabulus In Musica and this Spanish band look set to cram even more in with their 4th album sporting the come-and-buy-me title of “Dirge For The Archons”. Yep, nothing says excitement and interest more than album with the word “dirge” in it’s title. I’m guessing the meaning the band are aiming for is a lament, elegy or requiem, rather than the meaning that sprang to my mind which is of something slow, miserable and boring. Unless it’s meant ironically of course, because this album couldn’t be further away from slow, miserable or boring! Unlike the start to this review…a whole paragraph on the title…Sorry, let’s get on to the music!
There’s no defining Diabulus In Musica. Not in 2016 anyway. Being under Napalm’s encouraging umbrella for the last three albums has allowed the band to become who they want to be…and that appears to audibly involve just about every big-wig in the genre…all on one album! There’s plenty of Epica throughout, Sirenia too, Revamp/After Forever, Xandria, Delain, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil…I think you get the picture. There’s a danger when a band tries to be everything to everyone that they end up basically not being themselves, but this cavalier attitude to songwriting, this willingness to try their hand at wherever the song takes them, actually gives Diabulus In Musica an identity. I can’t think of anyone else who has managed to get all these influences and styles onto one album and still give them cohesion and continuity.
There’s all types of Metal on display here – Speed, Gothic, Symphonic, Melodic, Melodic Death, Power, Thrash, Dark, Modern and Progressive – they all get a look-in to varying degrees, making this a challenging but utterly rewarding and varied album. It also makes it quite impossible to single out individual tracks for fear of misleading the reader and making them think that the whole album follows a similar path. So I won’t. Vocalist Zuberoa Aznarez is in imperious, fabulous form, growing with every release since their inception and the song-writing of founding member and keyboardist Gorka Elso is as diverse and complex as ever. One factor that this album has is that the three new band members who were brought in for their previous release “Argia”, now sound even more at home, totally confident and excel in every song, introducing their own identity into Diabulus In Musica’s sound.
Truth is, no matter what your Metal penchants, Diabulus In Musica probably have it covered on this album. The flip-side I guess is that if you have a singular, particular type of Symphonic Metal that you like then Diabulus In Musica are going to mess with your head by chucking in loads of other stuff you don’t favour. For me, I like to be surprised by an album and this intriguing opus has it at every turn. It’s still doing unexpected twists on the fourth and fifth listens, such is the depth of each song. Diabulus In Musica are definitely going from strength to strength.
(8/10 Andy Barker)