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Diabulus in Musica - Argia

Diabulus in Musica - CD Review


Diabulus in Musica

CD Info
Napalm Records Spain
13 Tracks
English Lyrics, with some Spanish, Basque & Latin

When Diabulus in Musica’s first album Secrets was released in 2011, a Dutch magazine commented that “Epica has moved to Spain”. Of course it’s nice to be compared to such a band; however, you don’t want to be seen as a clone. Their second album The Wanderer moved in a slightly different direction, which avoided direct comparisons. For me, this album was good, but overall a little bit disappointing. So I was looking forward to the third album Argia to see what the next step would be and also because there were drastic changes in the line-up.

The backbone of Diabulus in Musica -- Gorka Elso (keyboards) and Zuberoa Aznárez (vocals) -- continued, and were joined by three new members in 2013: Alexey Kolygin (guitar), David Carrica (drums) and Odei Ochoa (bass). The name of the album Argia, which means “light or “clear” in their native language of Basque, comes from the struggle Gorka and Zuberoa had with the line-up changes: “We saw in our path again the light to continue to go on with music, and also the clearness.” (source: Diabulus in Musica interview with Sonic Cathedral).

Now for the album. As for me, I’m absolutely satisfied with Diabulus in Musica’s latest release. The light is there, very clear and very bright. Argia is an excellent album with clearly an authentic sound of its own that combines traditional, classic and metal influences. The album mixes heavy riffs, various kinds of clear vocals and symphonic keys with harsh vocals, delicate fragile music parts and bombastic choir lines. It is paradoxically refreshing, new, and familiar … all at the same time.

“Et Resurrexit (Libera Me)” starts with a very angelic Zuberoa in a mysterious traditional theme. The drums that takes the lead move it to a very theatrical song that closes with choir lines. This “requiem” feeling is immediately dispelled by the well-known bombastic up-tempo symphonic metal in “From The Embers”. All good elements are there; heavy riffs, clear vocal, grunts, pounding drums, orchestral keys and choir. As the clear vocals have a metal sound, it matches very well to the grunts and the operatic choir. “Inner Forces” also starts with up-tempo keys, guitars, drums and choir; however, it slows down to mid-tempo with another sound of Zuberoa -- this time with a subtle hint of the operatic. The drums and guitars are the backbone, while the vocals and keys create another layer. Sometimes it feels heavy, and sometimes it doesn’t. The structure and the captivating chorus make it a great track.

The symphonic sections overall are great, especially on “Furia De Libertad”. The familiar classical sounding brass opening theme is taken over by guitars before Zuberoa and guest vocalist Ailyn Giménez (Sirenia) join in with Spanish vocals. Their voices match beautifully. Diabulus in Musica doesn’t need to worry, Spanish and Metal are a stunning combination! The theme, the arrangement, the vocals (vocalists and choir) makes this track one of my favourites. “Maitagarri” opens a little differently -- almost mysteriously, with melodic spoken words (Basque) with a heavy interlude, before the song goes into a lovely “medieval” song section with flavours of (Ritchie) Blackmore's Night. The second half of the track has a section that is reminiscent of Nightwish, before the lovely and fragile flute closing. It seems a strange combination, but Diabulus in Musica finds a way to make it sound great.

The fragile traditional sounding interlude “Sed Diabolus” with great vocals is a break for entering the second part of the album. “Spoilt Vampire” is an outstanding song with two sections. It opens with heavy riffs and pounding drums before Zuberoa joins in with quick-paced singing, followed by Gorka’s growls. The second part moves with the choir into a bombastic epic part.

An almost classic metal ballad is “Eternal Breeze”, featuring beautiful vocals and a great solo of new guitarist Alexey Kolygin. “Mechanical Ethos” is an up-tempo song with heavy riffs and drums, with an almost contrasting vocals and choir arrangement, but it still matches very well. For sure, a highlight is “Encounter At Chronos' Maze”, which is an operatic theatrical track with Nordic Metal influences. This is not surprising, considering that Thomas Vikström (ex-Candlemass, Stormwind, Therion ) is the guest vocalist. (I certainly don’t mind hearing hints of Nightwish’s “Phantom of the Opera” and from one of my favourite bands, Therion) The Nordic elements and the Spanish setting is an excellent mix.

The modest and lovely song “Indigo” (with traditional element and flute) is a nice transition to another favourite “Healing”. This track has all that’s needed for a bombastic symphonic metal song - varied tempos, heavy riffs, pounding drums, operatic vocals, choir sections and symphonic elements. The album has nice subtle outro with “Horizons”.

The varied mix of styles, the great symphonic sections in balance with metal riffs and drums, and of course the excellent vocals make Argia a compelling album. In the review, a lot of comparisons are drawn. However, Diabulus in Musica doesn’t copy, they incorporate the various elements in a mature sound that is their own. I am looking forward to seeing them live again at Metal Female Voices Fest. The light shines bright for Diabulus in Musica.

Score: 9.25 / 10