There should always be a certain amount of variety in everything you’re doing, be that your usual everyday occupation or hobbies like review-writing. Without it, things can get stale, the excitement and satisfaction give place to boredom and you get frustrated and start pondering the meaning of life and it all goes downhill from there. While this isn’t the case with everyone, it’s a pretty common issue. Routine is the enemy of inspiration, of everything creative, and you should never let it rule your life. With that in mind, I decided to go out of my comfort zone for the next review, and settled on something really different this time. Oddly enough, I liked it!
This “something really different” thing is the new Diabulus in Musica album, called Argia. What kind of variety it offers? A beautiful one, I say. First, it’s a female-fronted band, with Zuberoa Aznárez’ powerful voice shining through all the record. Second, this album has a fair portion of growls delivered by Gorka Elso, who is also delivers all the keyboard sounds here. And third, there are those pompous orchestrations all around, accompanied by Alexey Kolygin, Odei Ochoa and David Carnica on guitars, bass and drums respectively. And this album is indeed a diverse one, ranging from the slaying double-bass tunes to heart-calming, serene ballads.
This record takes a classical so-called “beauty and the beast” approach in a few tracks: From the Embers and Spoilt Vampire being the perfect example. I’m not the big fan of growly style featured there, but I have to admit these moments are conveyed nicely within the whole picture. These lines are surrounded by the clear, calm, vivid female-vocals. And furthermore, all this is wrapped up in churning guitar sounds, while crushing drums and the keyboard arrangements are helping to bring these compositions into life. And the gorgeous singing of Zuberoa is an icing on the cake here. Putting her very soul into the music she accomplishes this full, inspired sounding seemingly without any serious effort on the whole record, and that’s an impressive achievement, if you ask me. Whether it’s the difficult operative vocal melodies or energetic, concise and catchy choruses, she just nails them all, her voice being the true gem of this album.
Of course, these harsh-vocal tunes are just one side of this piece of art, and on the other side we can find the tunes like Inner Force, Maitagarri or Eternal Breeze. The first two are still quite heavy, though a lot more symphonic, and also incredibly haunting, while the latter is one of my favourite tracks from this record, for it conjures all the beauty of Zuberoa voice, and it effortlessly builds up to a symphonic chorus leaving chills down your spine. Starting out calm, the song intensifies a few times over its course and then slows again, and the transitions are deftly done. And I didn’t even mention the guitar-solo here, which, by the way, is splendid too. All in all, this tune just grabs your soul and never lets it go, but makes it soar over the usual routine we go through.
The true surprise of the record comes nearly at the end, when on the Encounter at Chronos’ Maze the exquisite operatic male vocals appear out of the blue. Amplified by the stark contrast of the singers’ voices, the whole composition comes as something unique for the record, though I can’t deny it reminds me a bit of famous The Phantom of the Opera. The guest singer, Thomas Vikström does a terrific job on this majestic song, making it one of the disc highlights.
And of course there’s a trio of Indigo, Healing and Horizons to end the day. These songs are probably not supposed to be paired together, yet I can’t help it because it just makes too much sense. Indigo serves as a quiet build-up, with soothing, comforting singing enhanced by a caressing, tender flute sounds. After such a lulling start, Healing makes quite an entrance with a totally opposite approach, exposing the musical prowess the band possesses. There is a few minutes of fast, steady flow, then the song slows as if it takes a dive into the depths, holds the moment for a while and then emerges on the surface on a thrilling high note, again erupting into the wild-paced stream of melodies. Then comes Horizons, a short tune which mostly helps us to embrace and wrap our minds around what we have heard in the last hour.
There are indeed more tracks on the album than I have mentioned, yet I didn’t want to be much ponderous and decided to cut it only to the standouts. That being said, I’m struggling to find any unworthy song on Argia. While the record is diverse enough, it’s also pretty consistent and enjoyable. The songwriting here is spot on, with no elements seeming to be out of place; the production is appealing to my untrained ears too, and overall there are no sharp edges you might cut yourself while listening. Even if you don’t like grunts, that shouldn’t turn you away from this record, because, for the start, they’re justifiable here and fit really well, and furthermore, the female vocals are just compensating everything here, and I’m not trying to flatter anyone, just stating the fact.
As it seems to me, Diabulus in Musica managed to put together an exceptionally decent and compelling album and they seem to be the force everyone in the symphonic metal scene should reckon with. So, if you want to discover the said genre for yourself, but don’t want to look at the huge, world-wide famous names, this could be a fine point to start. And even if you think it surely won’t appeal to you, well, you never know before you try.