Building on their well received debut album Spanish symphonic metal band Diabulus in Musica return with their new album The Wanderer. Carrying on where Secrets left off but taking things to a higher and more defined level, the quintet from Pamplona have unveiled a release which stings and bites whilst taking the senses into dramatic realms full of melodic beauty and soaring harmonies. The album is often majestic, constantly absorbing and overall deeply satisfying.
Diabulus in Musica show two sides to their sound on The Wanderer in similarity to the recently released album from Xandria. The difference though is where the majority of tracks from the German band wonderfully combined highly aggressive and harder metal intensity with their symphonic creativity within each song, the Spaniards apart from within No Time For Repentance use this blend either to just steel up the symphonic flows or to create distinct metal tracks which keep the grander sound at bay. This works well in an album that is eclectic in sound though at times one wishes the two elements actually clashed at full might to see what would emerge.
Formed in 2006, Diabulus in Musica are instantly notable for the great vocal range and skill of Zuberoa Aznárez, her voice wonderfully taking flight to impressively varying heights and depth. Complimented by the striking guitar play of Adrián M. Vallejo and the emotive and atmospheric keys of Gorka Elso the band frequently soar like eagles or swarm around the ear in persistent harmonious waves. Powerful though the guitar and riffs are the intensity is raised higher by the muscular bass and commanding rhythms of Alex Sanz and Xabi Jareño respectively. All components combined their strength and musicianship ensures the band is a formidable treat which even with seeds grown from the likes of Nightwish and more so Epica, forge their own enjoyable sound.
Released via Napalm Records, The Wanderer opens with the intro A Journey’s End and the sound of waves lapping gently as a storm brews before the idyllic calm is moved by an impending sense of menace and a crashing climax. This leads into the rampaging Ex Nihilo, a track unrelenting on pace and eagerness to consume the ear with glorious harmonies and enthusiastic riffs. With guitar, bass and drums pressuring, the vocals of Aznárez alongside the keys, rise and sweep around the senses to dazzle and caress. The melodic operatic tinged harmonies radiate and even the harsher male growls can only add an edge rather than over power their grace.
Sceneries of Hope comes next to show the diversity within the album, offering an electronic vein through and beneath the euphoric keys and voice. Only two songs in and one realises Diabulus in Musica with their large gothic sound and orchestral weaves know how to avoid straying into indulgence and excess, each song no matter the size of its design is tight and restrained, this ensures the likes of this song and the impressive Oihuka Bihotzetik never out stay their welcome or disengage focus.
Continuing the diversity the band brings in a classic rock edge for the explosive Blazing A Trail and then dip into folk metal with Hidden Reality each carried off with a confidence and surety in the results. With the terrific vocals ofAznárez as well as the skill of everyone else it does not take long to realise the limitations of the band is only defined by their own belief in what they are doing. An already pleasing album is elevated into impressive the further one ventures into it especially with the mighty assault of Shadow of the Throne. Here the band go into battle with metal alone. Crushing riffs march through the ear like battalions whiles rhythms demand subservience. The vocals are solely male and delivered with a growl dripping venom and violence showing that the band can do metal as well as anyone and with invention as the teasing melodic extras and male vocal harmonies raining down upon the song show. It is glorious and despite the lack of Aznárez and her cultured sound is a big highlight even if they sound like a different band.
With the fiercely creative and almost experimental progressive No Time for Repentance (Lamentatio) and the simple but stunning folk driven title track, Diabulus in Musica reveal deeper pools of aural nectar to feast upon. Though not perfect with the similarity to other bands unavoidable at times and a closer union between the majestic and metal side of the band maybe needed, The Wanderer is an excellent album which feels and sounds better play after play.