Spanish symphonic metallers Diabulus In Musica are poised to unleash their third album Argia this week, a release which surprisingly, considering how easily it was for its predecessor The Wanderer to achieve the same aim, took its time to win over thoughts and passions. It is hard to pinpoint why the slow uptake on what is openly a grander evolution on the might of the previous album but the release certainly raised many questions before ultimately seducing doubts and winning the imagination. There are still elements which leave a few insecurities and as a lingering persuasiveness the band’s last full-length steals a march on its successor, but there is no undoubting the eager satisfaction and pleasure brewed by Argia.
Released via Napalm Records, Argia sees band founders, vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez (ex-Dragon Lord) and keyboardist Gorka Elso (ex-Dragon Lord, ex-Meridiam ) joined by the new addition of bassist Odei Ochoa, drummer David Carrica (Tierra Santa), and guitarist Alexey Kolygin (Allowance), all three joining the 2006 formed band last year. The quintet explores deeper and richer expansive symphonic landscapes and melodically coloured scenery than the previous album whilst not neglecting the voracious metallic savagery the band is equally as accomplished at uncaging upon the senses. The voice of Aznárez as expected seduces and enchants as she takes robust flight across the songs, the release confirming her place as one of metal’s finest female vocal provocateurs, whilst the keys of Elso equally enrich the canvas crafted by the band. With the guitar skills and bass predation as well as the rhythmic thrust of songs striking, Argia is a formidable encounter. True it took its time to convince with personal tastes still not totally enamoured at times but it is hard not to declare and recommend the album as another mighty slice of melodic exploration from Diabulus In Musica.
The album opens with the atmospheric beauty of Et Resurrexit (Libera Me), an initial dark ambience lit by the glorious celestial tones of Aznárez. Her vocal beacon tempers the emerging shadows and imposing haunted feel of the track, that darkness eventually held in check by the additional medieval bred strings, warm flutes caresses, and the melodically hued keys. The piece though is a conflict between light and dark, those grey clouds bearing ever nearer, eventually raising their dark battalions to march across the imagination to set up an appetite for the journey to come. Closed by the harmonies of a sky bred choir the track seamlessly evolves into the instantly rapacious From The Embers, riffs and rhythms a rampant charge from its first breath. It is charged and hungry metal which is given another surge of rabid energy and incendiary intensity by the soaring vocal harmonies and expressive keys. Once Aznárez begins the narrative, the track relaxes but still keeps its snarl through the rigid riffery and growling vocal squalls of Elso. The track challenges and thrills from start to finish, the band breeding all the potency which won full submission of the emotions in the last album into a stronger and decisively enterprising bait.
The following Inner Force steps in through an electronic metal like lure next, its welcome reminding of The Browning until the vocals seize the songs for their own, operatic essences and smouldering melodic croons from Aznárez merging for a vibrant and captivating soar through the enticing yet rugged heavens of the song. As so often with Diabulus In Musica, they immerse ears and thoughts in a radiantly inciting premise which cannot fail to spark visions and tales from within the listener’s imagination.
The vast climactic embrace of Furia de Libertad comes next, its sultry land and air a heated blaze of intrigue and adventure presented by Aznárez and guest vocalist Ailyn Giménez of Sirenia. The track sweeps up the senses in its robust canter and steamy ambience to again ignite a new adventure in the mind despite the lyrics being passed over in Spanish. Its pungent humidity is in many ways matched by Maitagarri though the song is washed by gentle melody crafted winds which refresh from within the thicker orchestral atmosphere erupting throughout. With a folk lilt to the gentle stroll within the more tempestuous intent, the song makes for the compelling fusion of power and tenderness which the band is persistently so good at conjuring and presenting.
From the brief, again folk spawned Sed Diabolus, the album reaches its pinnacle through firstly Spoilt Vampire and after the less impressing Eternal Breeze, the outstanding Mechanical Ethos. The first of the three antagonistically stalks the senses from its first snarl, guitars and drums brewing up a hunger driven rabidity which the keys spear with acidic scythes of temptation. The song’s predatory intent is held in rein by the leadership of Aznárez’s voice though it finds an eager protagonist through Elso’s growls to duel with her. It is an exceptional proposition which never relents in its carnivorous intensity and warlike oppression but still lights the ears with a resourceful endeavour of melodic invention. Its triumph is matched by the third of the trio, its body again merciless in its aggression and spellbinding in its imagination, that reference to The Browning nagging away again within the torrential waspish electronic groove of the song. Truth to say that when the band stand tall with their sinews and nostrils flaring violently whilst their melodic and vocal imagination entwines around the predation, the band has us drooling most and wishing for so much more. Between the pair the classically honed and atmospherically sculpted keys and vocal led Eternal Breeze feels lost between the threatening storms but to be fair it does stand majestically away from the ravenous pack if without sparking a fire in the emotions.
The dark Encounter at Chronos’ Maze which features Therion frontman Thomas Vikström comes next and struggles to make an impact. Musically the track is as immense as any other, imposing and dramatically irresistible but the vocals fail to match the sounds. Vikström somehow and very surprisingly outshines Aznárez who seems to go missing in the match strength wise but both are left floundering by the coarse roars of Elso.
Both the elegant Indigo and the rigorous Healing regain the album’s grip on the emotions, the first a bewitching summer flight of flute and keys crafted melodies aligned to tempting vocal harmonies whilst the second stomps and surges masterfully from its opening swipe to send thoughts once more into climactic and extensively broad dramatic adventures. Completed by the short instrumental Horizons, the piece offering an evocative view of the lands ventured, Argia is a riveting journey to embrace. It does not rival The Wanderer in many ways, it and personal preferences at odds from time to time, but Argia despite needing more time is a mouthwatering encounter proving Diabulus In Musica as one of the essentials within symphonic metal.
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