Diabulus In Musica - Secrets review
|Band:||Diabulus In Musica|
|Release date:||May 2010|
02. Come To Paradise
03. Nocturnal Flowers
04. Evolution's Whim
05. New Era
06. Lies In Your Eyes
07. Lonely Soul
08. The Seventh Gate
10. Under The Shadow (Of A Butterfly)
11. Beyond Infinity
12. The Forest Of Ashes
13. St. Michael's Nightmare
Secrets is like a great hall that instantly gives an inviting and comfortable feeling to those willing to enter, and then proceeds to illuminate an ever-growing number of doors the further one explores. Diabulus In Musica offer a confident and often compelling reason to check behind each and every door, as the band so often delivers exceptional symphonic metal, from soft-spoken and operatic vocals to memorable and inspiring melodies to complicated and aggressive arrangements. Of course, with any search through dozens of unopened doors, there are several that only show what most of us have seen before or not much of anything, but overall, the band has released a debut full of possibilities and virtues.
Classical string instruments clear the floor to begin the album, as it soon surrounds us with the swirling winds of Gorka Elso's synths, Xabi Jareño's anthemic and double-bass drumming, an operatic choir and Zuberoa Aznárez's crafted mix of driven operatic singing and a soothing, intimate melodic style. The first three tracks reveal a tight, structured vision that shows a seamlessly balanced mix of musicians and inspirations, with each song bursting with catchy melodies and guitar riffs, and Zuberoa's expressive, warm vocal intonations that quickly elevate each verse well beyond the typical symphonic song. Her lyrics create an air of self-resolve, an underlying optimistic hope, and respect for the stories of our race's past in relation to our future. "Evolution's Whim" could be a smart choice for a video track, as I feel it's the most accessible on first listen, and is dynamic enough to hint at more of the depth that lurks deeper into the album.
There is a strong sense that the band has surrounded themselves with all the right people, that it has the ambition to be respected with the tops of the genre, and that it has studied the songwriting of numerous symphonic and gothic bands to reach the high level they have already achieved. If you are new to Diabulus In Musica and Secrets, but familiar with Ad Sluijter (ex-Epica, and does the mix and co-produces here) or Sascha Paeth (producer of Kamelot, Epica, Avantasia, etc. releases and does the mastering here), you may be thinking that this could be great, or it could be too much like their contemporaries. You would be correct in both manners of thought, as about midway though the disc, with "New Era," and "Lies In Your Eyes," I found myself lost in comparisons. But, even within those, Diabulus In Musica plays them with strength and skill, complete with their own melodic flair.
However, it is the second half of the album that the band comes alive, no longer trying to excel at what is currently symphonic metal, but instead begins to create its own vision. After the dozens of listens I've had now with Secrets, I often feel the urge to start with "The Seventh Gate," which acts as an intro to "Ishtar," and treat this as the B-side to the first 7 songs' A-side. The influx of Middle Eastern melodies rarely sounds this arresting, as male growls announce the story of Ishtar's entrance and return from the underworld, intermingling with Zuberoa's most silky performance of the album. It's easily one of the best produced tracks of Secrets, and an ideal opener for what follows.
"Beyond Infinity" is a hidden gem, one that could possibly become my favorite of the album over time. Not for the faint of heart, it leans toward symphonic gothic metal, full of assertive drumming and a few bold guitar riffs as it delves into humanity's fears and weaknesses as we ponder life outside of the present and time. In fact, if it was not for the album's final two tracks it already would be my choice, but instead of slowing down, Diabulus In Musica pushes further, offering the thrilling "The Forest Of Ashes." A duet with Maite Itoiz and Zuberoa pervades the landscape here, atop a dynamic interplay of firm percussion, musical stops, and numerous synth and choir layers. Finishing out the album with the expansive, yet always focused "St. Michael's Nightmare," the band manages to put everything they've presented into one eight minute song, leaving me yearning for future recordings.
While Secrets may have lingering derivative touches from longstanding bands in the genre, it has that rare quality in that it develops before you as it plays back. From a foundation of Zuberoa's vocal repertoire, to its execution of more aggressive arrangements and challenging melodies, it is as a fine a choice as any for not only the genre, but as a debut in itself.
||Written on 06.12.2010 by Music and the written word are two of my passions in life, so I figured, why not combine the two?|
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| Jason W.
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