Altar – Historia Medieval: La Batalla del Angel Y El Dragón

April 30, 2012 in Reviews by Kylie

Historia Medieval: La Batalla del Angel Y el Dragón

Back in my college days as a linguistics major (because some of us really wanted an education that will be totally useful in the real world!), I would peruse metal sites for bands that sing in non-English languages (mostly because all of my professors would use native pop bands…*shudder*). Even after graduating, I still do this, and occasionally, I find a band like Altar. “Hmm…symphonic power metal from Costa Rica, and they sing in Spanish, so maybe my Spanish teacher friend could use this, rather than Shakira.” This is beyond just “metal en Español,” and is definitely one of the better power metal albums I’ve heard.

Altar are more mid-tempo than Sonata Arctica or even Gamma Ray, but there’s some serious shredding going on. Just check out the guitar/keyboard solo trading in “No Mires Hacia Atrás” (translates to “Don’t Look Back,” which the solos definitely live up to) With that said, it’s rare for a band with an amazing keyboard player to accent the music rather than overpower it, and this is one of those bands. The mix is actually very solid for a self-produced/self-released album, and everything has its place, and only the vocals are given a bit more push.

This is totally competent symphonic power metal, mostly in the vein of the German school; Edguy’s Mandrake is the most logical comparison. There aren’t many riffs; rather, chord progressions with keyboard melodies carry the songs. So, it’s fairly close to DragonForce at normal tempos and without the ridiculous sense of self-parody. “Juntos Lucharemos,” (“Together We Fight”) “No Mires Hacia Atrás,” and “Volverá” (“Return”) are the strongest on the album, but there really isn’t a weak moment, and the entire album is more or less loosely conceptual. Sure, the lyrics are total Christian music, but this isn’t Jars Of Clay’s sissy quasi-acoustic mumbo jumbo. So open your mind a bit, and if you don’t speak or understand Spanish, then who really cares?

Special attention goes to vocalist Marcos Mendoza, an operatic tenor. His vocals are a 6th instrument here, and not just a device to deliver lyrics. He doesn’t scream, but he does have a hell of a range. And it’s not often I rave about vocalists not named Tobias Sammet and Harry Conklin.

 Kylie’s Rating: 4.25 out of 5