Flametal - The Elder
Independent Release
Flamenco Metal
1 songs (44'40)
Release year: 2005
Reviewed by Crims
Archive review

The majority of Metal fans have some sort of quilty pleasure (for lack of a better term) which is usually a type of music that they get a great deal of enjoyment out of, which may be considered to be uncommon for the typical Metal fan. Liking Hard Rock or Progressive Rock is quite common but something like Flamenco isn’t. For me, Flamenco is my guilty pleasure. Granted, I don’t own any Flamenco music, nor could I name any practitioners, however, whenever I hear Flamenco music as part of a TV, Video Game, or Movie sound track I really, really enjoy it. I also went to High School with someone who used to play Flamenco guitar in the hallways in between classes and he was quite good at it. The point is I had always wondered if any band would try to combine Metal and Flamenco music, and though perhaps a few bands have used it as an influence in a song or two, nobody, to my knowledge, has made it a main focus of the music. That is until I accidentally discovered this CD from Flametal. Though I’ve had it for some time I haven’t really given it my full attention until recently and as you might surmise from this long-winded introduction Flametal is not just a clever name, but also how you might describe their style of Metal.

For those who don’t know Flamenco is characterized by a distinct style of guitar playing which is usually very energetic, melodic, and at times very emotional and dark. There’s also very precise rhythms with rhythmic clapping playing a large part in the music as well. The band incorporates all of this throughout the CD and we are treated to both instrumentals and full songs. One of the best combination of the Metal and Flamenco can actually be found on the first song, which is the title track. The songs combines almost constant, up-tempo, Flamenco guitar playing with Metal riffs in the background which are vaguely similar to Speed Metal and have a Traditional Metal sensibility. The song also includes the aforementioned clapping which I have to say works really well. Meanwhile, the vocal style is of the harsh variety and is most similar to a mid-ranged Black Metal style. The vocals seemed to be rather low in the mix, and they aren’t distracting and work well; though I would have preferred more of a Traditional Metal vocal style. The are two others song which feature vocals, and they are Red Cobblestone, and P’Alla Al Inferno Vas. Red Cobblestone is probably the weak point of the CD. The bands foregoes the Flamenco influences until very late in the song with an acoustic break and the rest of the song is somewhat remiscent of a band like Doomsword that combines Doom Metal and Traditional Metal. Now, Doomsword is an awesome band, as are most other bands in that subgenre, but it honestly does not work that well here. The song itself is not that bad I suppose, but the band really flourishes when they are using the Flamenco side of their music to full effect. Meanwhile P’Alla Al Inferno Vas is a beast of a song that shows a much more technical side of the band with a lot of complicated rhythm changes that focuces again on sort of Speed Metal/Traditional Metal riffing style with almost constant acoustic guitar, the best part of which is when the lead guitar does a harmonized break down with the acoustic guitar. This song really shows off how awesome the combination of these musical styles can be, but aside from a few key moments in other songs, the band isn’t quite at this same level throughout the entire release, mainly because the remaining songs are largely instrumentals.

Instrumentals can be a very good thing and the Flamenco music lends itself to instrumentals, especially when they are combined with almost jazz like bass guitar and drum rhythms as found on Bruja Tortura. The instrumentals tend to focus more on the Flamenco side of the music with the Metal part being non-existent on Silencio, Escobilla, but certainly more prominent on the rest. Now, I must say all the instrumentals show quality musicianship and are very progressive in nature with a heavy technical aspect and a large degree of build-up and tempo changes. The instrumental songs work quite well on their own as they remain interesting with the exception of parts of The Summoning, where the mid-paced, laid-back melodic build up doesn’t really go anywhere. The opposite side to that is the awesome Cuatro Caballeros which features some of the Speed Metal influences found in the songs with vocals.

I really liked how the band has incorporated Flamenco music into Metal, as it’s certainly a focus of the music as opposed to a minor influence which shows up here and there. Flametal has also really impressed me with their musicianship as the rhythm playing is especially good. I only wished there were more songs with vocals as all the instrumentals disrupt the flow the vocal centric songs create and it makes the CD sound somewhat disjointed when it really did not need to be. The production is also a tad weak as it has a very low-budget feel to it. That in itself is not bad, as the guitar tone has a nostalgic 80’s feel to it and the bass guitar is very clear, but I think this style lends itself to a very crisp and clear production job to capture all the nuances of the technical playing and melodic transitions. Perhaps Flametal has started a new sub-genre of Metal along side Folk Metal and Viking Metal that fuses a form of traditional European music with Metal, but then again perhaps they haven’t (only time will tell). Though you’d think with the large amount of Metal bands from Spain this would be something already more common… strangely enough though, Flametal is from USA. Though parts of this release are flawed, the decision to use Speed/Traditional Metal to form basis of the Metal influences was a surprising and wise choice and the overall result is very pleasing and highly original. Recommended to Metal fans who, on occasion (or maybe always), have found them selves enjoying Flamenco music, either for the atmosphere it creates or for the skill level required to play it well. On a side note, the band has re-released this CD with a new mix and production job, along with re-recorded vocals. This review is based on the original release.

Killing Songs :
The Elder, P'alla Al Inferno Vas, Cuatro Caballeros, Silencio, Escobilla
Crims quoted 78 / 100
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There are 2 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Jun 26, 2007 3:05 am
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