Monday, June 2, 2008

Dantesco - Pagano

Soaring Epic/doom prog metal from Puerto Rico, Dantesco are a revelation in the metal world. This is epic metal in the truest form of the word. Rarely have I heard a band so effortlessly fuse pulse-quickening riffs with classical interludes, searing guitar leads and acoustics, all laced with religious overtones, into one package this captivating.. Their website describes them as “something in between Candlemass and Mercyful Fate,” and who am I to argue. But if you ask me, they sound most similar to The Wake of Magellan-era Savatage spliced with classic Iron Maiden in terms of melody, intricacy and musicianship.

Brandishing a double-fisted guitar attack, plus a bass player who doubles on classical guitar, these guys got chops to spare. Riffs flow off their frets as effortlessly as water over a falls, yet each one packs the wallop of a mighty metallic crunch. There is no way to describe these songs than, well, epic. Check out the brief classical breakdown mid-way through the “Santa Croce Titulus,” followed by a lead that literally scorches through the disc, cutting through the lacquer spincoat like a laser slicing through a block of ice. “La Ultima Vista De Grendel,” features more riffs than could be found on in a lesser artist's whole catalog, each one mutating into the next with such impeccable timing and precision that the result is actually beautiful.

Heavy in religious imagery (check out the costumes in the video below) each track focuses on themes of doom, freedom, history or religious desolation. "Por Tu Santo Amor," kicks off with a killer Gregorian-like chant, followed by a few brief seconds of the most sinister laugh you'll ever hear before the metallic riff cuts in. "Su Sangre Es Mia," is a beautifully played acoustic classical piece, spiked at intervals with metallic tension. This bleeds effortlessly into perhaps their fiercest metallic riff "En El Bosque," the searing lead guitar intro tearing through the mix.

If there’s one possible drawback to massive world-wide acceptance (besides the fact that the lyrics are all in Spanish, which bothers me not at all) it’s the operatic vocals. Now by operatic, I don’t mean Bruce Dickinson or Robert Halford wailing, I mean operatic as in this guy can really sing, bellowing it out in a deep Heldentenor. At times, the contradiction of the voice and the music can be a little disconcerting, sounding as if you were backstage, listening to Placido Domingo doing vocal exercises at a Maiden concert. But fortunately, once you get accustomed to it, the music and voice meld together perfectly and when he digs into the deep reaches of his vocal range, gargling up a little gutturalness, with the band wailing out massive riffs in the background, it’s about as sublime as metal can get.

Undoubtedly, some will find this whole thing bombastic, but if you got the balls to try something besides the old tried and true in your metal, give Pagano a spin. Leave the Spanish dictionary at home. It’s not needed for this ride.


Buy here: Pagano


Metal Mark said...

This one bored the crap out of me. The vocals were too much and the music was not enough.

The RIpple Effect said...

I hear ya, Mark. Dantesco ain't gonna be for everyone. But after repeated listens, I got into it. For those who want to check out their sound I suggest going to and listen to the track "La Ultima Visita Del Grendel." It's a good sampler of what these boys are about.

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