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Old 10-01-2021, 06:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally posted in Bitesize, April 27 2013

Viva Espana!

Artiste: Saratoga
Nationality: Spanish
Album: Vientos de guerra
Year: 1999
Label: Aspira
Genre: Heavy metal/Power metal
La iguana
Vientos de guerra
Mas de mil anos
Solo un motivo
Aprendiendo a ser yunque (Para llegar a ser martillo)
Heavy metal
Charlie se fue
Extrano silencio
Hielo liquido
El ministro
Estrellas las del cielo
Manos unidas
A sangre y fuego
Si te vas
Ruge el motor

Chronological position: Fourth album
Familiarity: Nemesis
Interesting factoid:
Initial impression: Christ! Something bad is coming for me!
Best track(s): Vientos de guerra, Solo un motivo, Heavy metal, Charlie se fue, El ministro, Manos unidas
Worst track(s): I liked everything on this album.
Comments: It's always fun listening to metal in another language. The burden of deciphering lyrical themes is taken away and you have to just concentrate on the music, and the talent of the singer without knowing what he or she is singing about! I first heard these guys on their latest album, last year's Nemesis, and I loved it, so here I am checking out one of their older albums. I haven't heard too much Spanish metal, the only others being the old campaigners Baron Rojo and more recently Tierra Santa and Cain's Dinasty, but the more I hear the more I like.

There's an ominous yet exciting sound of hammer-drumming with single beats, like the stomping approach of some huge metal beast, then some guitar shredding before a Sabbathesque groove cuts in leaving the echoey drumming to fade out and we're into track two with all the power and bite these guys can muster. They're not quite as thrash-oriented as the aforementioned Cain's Dinasty, more often along the lines of the likes of early Sabbath or some of the older NWOBHM bands like Saxon and White Spirit, though in fairness this album is almost fifteen years old now. I am however constantly surprised by how easy it is sometimes to translate the titles of songs by Spanish bands: Solo un motivo is surely "only one motive" (or something close anyway) while Estrellas las del cielo certainly refers to stars in the sky, though I'm not sure what "las" means. A sange y fuego is "blood and fire" and even the title track looks to translate into something like "year of the war" or "time of the war".

Still, the titles are not important nor are the lyrics. I don't speak Spanish so can't tell you what the songs are about, but what I can tell you is that Saratoga (one of the larger metal bands in Spain, by all accounts) speak in the universally understood tongue of heavy metal, and they speak loud and clear! Great guitar work, without being showy or "wankery", solid, powerful drumming and a vocalist who really knows how to get the attention. What more could you ask for? They play mostly at close to top speed, again though without descending into breakneck farce, and you can hear the expertise in their playing. It's quite amusing to hear the only song whose title is in English, the appropriately-named Heavy metal is in Spanish --- wonder if the phrase means the same the world over?

Nice to hear that the vocalist can tone it down when required too, as on the grinding ballad Charlie se fue with a really fine guitar solo thrown in for good measure. Arriba! I also like the acoustic Manos unidas; shows what these guys are capable of.
Overall impression: A great metal album, credit to Spain. Who needs to be able to make out the lyrics, anyway?
Intention: Got to listen to a few more of their albums.
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