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Just a Dream
Released: 2001, Beat Zero
Think Costa Rica….what comes to mind? No metal bands? Well let’s change that with Slavon. I was sent this CD from a long time member of the Metal Rules forum (foshuggah) who raved about the band and knew that I love classic metal. He sent me the CD to review and here I am agreeing with him that the band are great and put Costa Rica on the heavy metal map.
The strong point of Slavon is clearly vocalist Pablo Bogarin. Of course the backing music is up to par with his great voice but the vocals nailed it for me. I’ve heard a lot of South American (I know Costa Rica are Central American, but for a northman like me it’s pretty damn close) metal bands where the vocals have a noticeable accent making it a bit quaint or sometimes humorous if there are mispronunciations. That’s not the case here at all. Slavon have clear vocals and that are vocalized faultlessly. After a short intro the opening song “Roman” kicks in. This is a strong contender for my favorite on the CD. Slavon are NOT about super high-speed power metal. This is just classic sounding metal with slight hints of Maiden. “Excalibur” is a galloping Maiden-ish song with a very strong soaring chorus. This one has one of the better solos on the album. “The Beggar” begins with a riff that sounds like it could have been lifted from a page from the 70’s metallers sHEAVY (for anyone that knows them). The whole song isn’t like that; so don’t come looking to Slavon for stoner metal! “God’s Finger” is up next. Weird title or what? I thought it meant give god the finger, but I don’t think that’s what they had in mind! It starts out sounding like classic heavy metal then it goes into a clean guitar part that utterly took away from the excellent intro. Too bad they didn’t expand on the intro section instead of going off into left field. Another of the album’s better tracks is “East of Israel” which starts out sounding like power metal but with the verses sounds like 80’s metal all the way. This one again has a great chorus and melody line.
You can’t always have the good without the bad. Thankfully out of the 12 tracks on here there are only 3 tracks that stick out and cannot even be saved by good vocals. Two of the tracks in question are “Broken Sky" (a ballad) and "Red River". Reportedly, the dude who produced the band made them record and release two of his own songs along with their own. Bizarre or what!! Was it blackmail? I dunno, but the band ought to claim that so we don’t take them into consideration when viewing the album as a whole. The third stinker is the album closer “Cielo Herido”. As you can guess from the title it’s sung in Spanish. Since I know no Spanish, I did a quick web-search for the title and found a Spanish Star Trek page with the old series episode “The Wounded Sky” in Spanish as “Cielo Herido”. I’m not sure if that was the inspiration for this ballad, but if it is, it’s the only cool thing about the song!
I’d love to hear this band properly produced and recorded in a better studio. The sound here is a bit flat, a bit too bassy in places, the cymbals are tinny sounding, etc. I didn’t let the bad production affect my rating though because despite the demo-quality production, the band’s talent and the great songs and melodies more than shine through!
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