|Saratoga - El Clan De La Lucha
01. El Clan De la Lucha
02. San Telmo 1940
03. Lejos Del Tiempo
04. Maldito Corazón
06. Ángel De Barro
08. Sí Amaneciera
09. Quizá El Sol No Saldrá
10. Blanco Y Marfil
11. Nuevo Mundo
12. Tu Nombre Mi Destino
13. Buscando El Perdón
Saratoga's highly awaited seventh album is out! After the successful "Agotarás" and the live "Tiempos De Directo", here comes "El Clan De La Lucha". For those who don't know, I may precise that this band is Spanish, and sings in Spanish, so that they're not worlwide known, but with this album precisely, things may change: they also recorded an English version of the CD.
This review deals with the Spanish, digipack + DVD release.
First, let's have a look at the cover art: a tatooed sumo facing a female reaper, symbol of death. On the back, it's a young boy who's standing in front of the sumo. The meaning? From what I've read, it symbolises the wait - who of those completely different characters will strike the first? Well, in my opinion, you could understand that the younger you become a sumo, the sooner you're likely to meet death... I know, I'm being a bit sarcastic, but I really find the cover irrelevant, a bit useless (but far from being ugly, it's pretty well done).
Let's push "play" now, to get introduced to the album by the title-track "El Clan De La Lucha", an atmospheric intro in which you can hear distant voices (a boy saying "Saratoga", a woman singing and some soft laughter, maybe the reaper of the cover). Add some keyboards chords and you'll have once again something that, in my opinion, is useless, though I admit it might work really well when it comes to invading the stage in concert...
Now, track 2, "San Telmo 1940". This song is also the single (with videoclip, see the DVD part at the end of this review), and the band says it reflects all the characteristics of the new album. It's heavy, it's fast, it's catchy and powerful, including a bit crazy, and with some low voices (not growls) pretty well done. Those riffs are damn good, and they get you headbang from the very beginning to the very end of the track. BUT - note that there's always a but - it also introduces us to the problems of the whole album. Namely the voice and the production.
Why the voice? Leo sings very well in the previous albums, and so he does live, so why should it be different now? It's not the fact he sings a bit lower than usual, no, this is even a good point. No, the production is to blame for that. Big Simon (ex Not For Us, now with Sôber) seems to be the perfect productor when you hear or read the interviews the band gave, so that has to be the band which really wanted that sound... but can someone explain me why are there so many effects on the voice?? In some songs it's really annoying (the end of "Maldito Corazón" for example). Moreover, the voice is a bit drowned by the music. I don't mean that it's really bad, but could have been better, really.
Otherwise, the production seems to have been set around two main objectives, which are having a heavier sound and a modern sound. The first one is achieved, thanks to the composition and production work (the bass is a bit more powerful, more metallic), but for what refers to modernity, I'd say it is more "modern", but yet it's not that "modern", in the sense that it doesn't reach the new standards set by producers like Nordstrom or Bauerfiend. But basically, it's sufficient to set the difference of this album regarding the band's discography.
Going back to the listening of the other 10 songs, each of them varying a bit, in heaviness and speed. Some of the fastest include "Blanco Y Marfil" y "Buscando El Perdón", while a song like "Decepción" is a bit slower, beginning with some "Oh oh" which don't sound so good in studio, but for sure, will be great to sing in shows. Another song, "No", has on the one hand a heavy riff (it reminds me of some songs of ...And Justice For All), and on the other hand a riff typically Helloweenish for the verses.
There also a ballad, "Sí Amanecierá", composed by guitarist Jero after his father's death. This song shows a very good progression from acoustic to electric guitar, and moreover there are far less problems with the voice, which is very nice and specifically sung as too raise the emotions.
The rest of the songs could be refered to as "heavy-power" metal.
To conclude on this album, I agree to say it was an ambitious project lead by Saratoga, not in the usual sense of the word, but they succeed in finding a new sound while remaining themselves. One could say they sound a little bit less like a Stratovarius type of band. Between evolution and death at the time of internationalisation, the band has chosen the first option, and even if this album is far from being exceptional, it's still a good metal moment to spend. I, for myself, think that this album will really boost their already good live performances.
Let's push "play" again, but on the DVD-player. There's no real graphic effect or presentation, but the content is very good:
First, eight live songs, which shouldn't be included in the live DVD (to be released soon at the time I'm writing this review). With it, no doubt that Saratoga is a good live band, and that Leo sings very well, though he doesn't move as much as I want. Special award to the bassist for his attitude!
Then the interviews, one per member, fair enough, as well as the making-of in the studio (to show how much those guys can be serious... or maybe it's the opposite) and the video-clip for the track "San Telmo 1940", once again, useless in my opinion, as it just show them playing the song in studio, and tells nothing more about the meaning of the lyrics, neither shows the atmosphere delivered by the music. But the live clips justify this DVD.
So if you're Spanish, go and see them live, and if you're not Spanish but yet very interested, wait for the possible release of the English version!