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Epic Darkness From Cayey

Posted by THE DUKE on March 19, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Dantesco- Seven Years Of Battle

2011 Stormspell Records


Those who know me intimately know that although I have somewhere in the vicinity of 4000 metal titles in my collection, all titles are by bands that originated in the 70s and 80s. The only recent titles that I have are modern releases by classic bands whose origins trace back to those decades. In the past, I’ve had some modern releases by bands whose sound hearkens back to the influence of classic metal bands, but have been mostly let down in this regard. I’ve always found newer bands who site Maiden, Priest, Helloween, Fates Warning, or Queensryche as influences to be more of a cheap imitation of the aforementioned bands. The music is usually chock-full of recycled riffs and melodies. The singers are always ripe with their best imitations of Dickinson, Halford, Kiske, Alder, or Tate. Seldom is anything new brought to the table. After a few listens, I tend to discard most of these bands.

Stormspell Records recently sent me a few discs. Two of the discs were by a band that I was unfamiliar with named Dantesco. The definition of Dantesco is “Dantesque,” or “of or relating to Dante.” This is a specific reference to the happenings in Dante Alighieri’s work “Inferno,” or all things dark or macabre. Apparently, this band is an epic doom metal band from Cayey, Puerto Rico that originated in 2003. I’ve been spinning the discs since I have received them. There is something about this band that sets them apart from the other modern bands playing traditional metal today. The band has that “it” factor or a dark mystique that can be found in such legendary bands as Cirith Ungol, Brocas Helm, Dark Quarterer, or Pagan Altar. The band’s sound seems to draw heavily on Candlemass as a focal point. However, the riffing and pacing of the songs are much more brisk than Messiah and company. The songs tend to be long and epic with exotic chords and time changes. The song structures are very reminiscent of classic songs by Italian legends Dark Quarterer. The singer Erico La Bestia when he sings is a tenor similar to Placido Domingo, but when he screams reminds me of Mandy Lion. The lyrics, especially on the earlier releases, are in Spanish. La Bestia sings these lyrics with a great deal of conviction. The songs touch on all sorts of epic stories from literature and history. There are songs based on Beowulf (La Ultima Visita De Grendel) and Dracula (Principe De Valaquia). There are also historical epics based on The Black Plague (Cronicas De La Muerte Negra), the mad Russian monk Rasputin, the Carthaginian general Hannibal, and a stomper of a track based on Viriathus, who was a barbarian of Spanish origin. The song “Purinos Polemos (Viriathus)” chronicles the epic story of Viriathus and his rebellion against the Roman Empire. In many of these songs, the musical interplay between the singer La Bestia and guitarist Joel Carrasquillo is truly something to behold. Carrasquillo’s guitar solos work in nicely with a beautifully melodic tone amidst the operatic singing and heavy, doom-style riffing.

This review is a little different than what I’ve done in the past, because it is not so much a review of one album as it is a review of the band Dantesco. I, for one, cannot get into many of the doom metal bands out there today due to either the constant drug references in the lyrics or the extremely slow pace riffing typical of the genre. Dantesco, however, does a perfect mixture of doom riffing with classic metal stylings, so as to be more appealing to the classic metal listener. I’ve always wished there were a band that was able to incorporate a doom guitar sound with the speed and gallop of early Iron Maiden or Iced Earth. Although I have yet to hear that approach with any consistency, Dantesco is about as close to that as I have come thus far. Although Dantesco has influences (the band lists a plethora of them in the credits for their “Pagano” album), the band does not merely copy any of those influences. Dantesco brings something new to the metal discussion, and for that I am grateful. You would do well to check out either the self-titled CD which includes the band’s 2004 demo and bonus tracks, or Dantesco’s new release entitled “7 Years of Battle.” Both are hand-numbered and limited to 1000 copies. The majority of the “7 Years of Battle” release is sung in English, and is an addicting journey that ends with a cover of Savatage’s “The Dungeons are Calling.” Check out both discs on Stormspell Records, now. You owe it to yourself to hear something fresh and different from a band that shows enough confidence to stand apart from today’s stagnating metal scene.

Categories: The Duke's Classic Metal Journal