Dantesco - Pagano
Cruz Del Sur Music
Epic Power Doom Metal
11 songs (61'01")
Release year: 2008
Cruz Del Sur Music
Reviewed by Alex

In their neverending quest to bring you heavy metal from every corner of the world imaginable Italian label Cruz Del Sur continues to search metal rarelands. This time they went to a US territory of Puerto Rico. Dantesco may not have been in existence long as a collective, but it is composed of experienced musicians, which shows. The act is well known around the island, but has little notoriety elsewhere. Cruz Del Sur was going to correct this omission by getting a European license to release the band’s self-issued Pagano.

By all accounts I am supposed to be in instant awe of the album. Dantesco plays an epic power doom style, away from the more modern deathy or gothic Euro stylings, instead harkening all the way back to the days of Merciful Fate and Memento Mori yore. Of those in existence today Candlemass, less known Memory Garden and the medieval epic inclined Italians Doomsword have been personal favorites within the style for quite some time. So there should have been no issue with familiarity. I was ready to accept and enjoy heavy rolling riffs, monumental melodic buildups, acoustic interludes and weighty production. Dantesco does all of that on Pagano, but strangely enough I feel that a tremendous opportunity to create an epic doom masterpiece has been lost. Here is a perfect example of the sum total not being equal to the combination of the components. Instead of sweeping me in with its Caribbean flavored tidal doom wave Dantesco falls down, themselves crushed by the weight of their monumental, but oh-so plodding riffs. All proper ingredients are here, but the final product in some way lacks seasoning which would give it the ultimate kick.

You certainly can’t fault the riffs. They are classic, lead-heavy with a fitting bass emphasized production. What was needed were more memorable songs, as the tracks on Pagano blend one into another, the gallop of La Ultima Visita De Grendel is short-lived, the heavy stretchiness of Su Sangre Es Mia not extending far enough and the melody of the opener Santa Croce Titulus being the single brightest point I could remember from the album’s main nine tracks. Dantesco has a full-on effort to mix and match things, but the extended leads pop up because they have to, rather than developing as natural extensions of the song development, and the acoustic De La Mano De La Muerte is here, because every epic doom album has to have one (although string picking is absolutely flawless). It is not until we hit the European bonus tracks, the hard rocker I Came from Hell, and the cover of the world renown Gethsemane (from Jesus Christ Superstar) that the things get livelier. As beautiful a structure as Gethsemane is, in its heavy middle part Dantesco find the way to labor and plod, the trademark of Pagano I could never reconcile.

In all of this the biggest victim might be the band’s unusual vocalist Erico La Bestia. A local legend, this is one unusual singer, equally steeped in heavy metal and opera. His range, which he amply showcases, is outstanding. Singing in Spanish only adds to his colorful palette and adds special flavor. From demonic laughter, to beastly growl, to stratospheric yelps, to operatic voice extending from rich baritone to clean tenor – it is rather unfair that the opportunity to showcase this gem is squandered.

I am sure there will be others who will pile the lavish on Dantesco, and I would certainly welcome their opinion. Yet when one compares the effortless songwriting of Doomsword with trudge’n’toil of Dantesco, the two come from the same family, but somehow somewhere Dantesco missed the turn.

Killing Songs :
Santa Croce Titulus, Gethsemane
Alex quoted 65 / 100
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