Hijos del Despertar
Released: 2001, Arise
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
Spanish-language power metal! I knew such a thing existed, but I confess until I heard this disc I'd had no exposure to it. Now that I've sampled the wares, I may become a bit more proactive in seeking out the swords-and-sorcery guys from Iberia and Latin America – if any other Spanish-language bands can match Red Wine, I'll be doing well.
Despite their dippy band name (come on, guys! Even "Rojo Vino" would sound better), Red Wine have a strong lineup. Guitars are very clean and melodic, drumming is competent, and the vocals – while not quite on par with many of the German power metal classic crooners – are certainly acceptable. The keyboards are just barely on the verge of being overused, and I would like to have heard a stronger bass sound. But if you're not expecting miracles, Red Wine delivers the goods. I especially enjoyed the first and title track, "Hijos del Despertar," and the shotgun wedding of psychedelic-70s-keyboards and old Helloween on "Santa Hipocresia." As with my other Spanish language review this month, Mago de Oz's FINISTERRA, this album demonstrates why Spanish is a language particularly well-suited for singing metal lyrics. Even if you don't usually like lyrics about warriors and battles, who can't get excited about warriors and battles when they're sung about in such a cool-sounding language? (DISCLAIMER: I do not actually know for certain that the lyrics on HIJOS DEL DESPERTAR are of the classic power metal fantasy variety, for, as I confess in my Mago de Oz review, my Spanish is rusty. However, given the fantastic cover art for this album, I'd say it's safe to assume they are "classic" power metal lyrics).
As I must point out for the sake of creating a fair review, this is not perfect. Good as he is on most of this material, sometimes vocalist Mario Suarez is a bit shrill, and not in the Udo Dirkschneider/Rob Halford "good" shrill way. Also, aside from a passable guitar solo, the ballad on this album, "En Isengard," is very weak. That's a shame, since it's a reference to "Lord of the Rings," and a power metal band has seldom gone wrong by drawing inspiration from Tolkien. But these deficiencies are not enough to seriously detract from enjoyment of the album.
I've said it in many power metal reviews and I'll repeat it here: while I thought this was a good album, it's not likely to make any converts among the segment of the metal listening population that is generally not already into power metal. If you use the term "flower metal" or you've ever used the word "gay" to describe Rhapsody, Gamma Ray or Blind Guardian, you should probably not buy HIJOS DEL DESPERTAR. However, power metal fans are likely to find this a nice, fat doubloon of Spanish gold.