Seven Years of Battle
posted on 3/2011 By:
Seven Years of Battle is the fifth studio album from Puerto Rican doom/trad act Dantesco. Despite the band's seasoned status and quality past – in particular the album Pagano – many facets of this newest release feel somewhat rushed and unrefined. Still, for fans of the band there is a good amount to appreciate, even if it fades after a few enthusiastic spins.
The Dantesco approach is rooted in the epic doom of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus but given a kick by the higher energy of acts such as Iron Maiden or Mercyful Fate. The tastiness of that tried-and-true design makes it that much more frustrating that Seven Years of Battle is more-often-than-not a double-edged sword in quality and execution. On one hand, compositions tend to get bogged down in pedestrian riffage and uninteresting structures, but on the other, the band sure can nail it when things click. For example, “Carnifex” features an ominous doom intro that creates an effective mood but subsequently does very little with it for close to 4 minutes. And just when listeners are ready to give up on the track and hit “next,” Joel Carrasquillo rejuvenates attention with a much-needed dose of his tasteful and commanding lead guitar.
The biggest wielder of Dantesco’s double-edged sword is undoubtedly vocalist Erico La Bestia. Make no bones about it, when La Bestia is on, he’s fucking on. His mid-range doom croon and vibrato give him an undeniable presence for much of Seven Years of Battle. Unfortunately, he also boasts a higher register half-scream that runs the quality gamut from ineffective to cringe-inducing. This entire range is often heard within just a few seconds, as within the chorus of “Guerrero,” which starts with La Bestia showing off his smooth pipes before making an ill-timed ascent up the octaves to yell out “Christianos!” Compounding this problem is how unnecessary vocal layering is often employed during these faux King Diamondisms.
Truth be told, I really, really wanted to like Seven Years of Battle more than I do. The band’s undeniable charm – which also includes notably stylistic drumming by a man simply known as Wampa – survives in spite of the faults and makes up for a good deal of the flat songwriting. Plus, I can sure as shit listen to the good half of La Bestia’s vocals and Carrasquiollo’s solos all day. But this charm will run out by the halfway mark for all but the Dantesco loyal. The uninitiated are encouraged to first investigate the far superior Pagano recording or just wait a month for the new Argus album.
Register to post comments.