Adhur/Aiumeen Basoa/Illbetz – Triarchy of Vasconia 4/5
All the bands are claimed to play some combination of Folk/Pagan/Black metal. Now all the bands have huge folk influences, and I’m no expert of pagan stylings, but I think there is some of those hanging around as well. There are even a few moments of black metal here and there on most songs. Yet, I would hesitate to call this heavy metal. None of the bands are guitar driven all the time, and only one is mostly guitar driven. I suppose I just think this is too ‘pretty’ to be metal. Sure, power metal is pretty, symphonic bands can be quite heavy, and doom certainly isn’t driven by relentless guitar licks, but I still think these bands lack some defining metallic element.
Not to say these guys aren’t good, they’re freaking great! The melodies and the constant changing of leading instruments are fantastic. In one singular piece, the song is led in different sections by Flutes, Bells, Trumpets, even a Harp. I’m not sure about you, but where I come from, using a harp as a lead instrument without it feeling tacked on or over-driven is the definition of ballsy-great.
The traditional instruments are good too. The vocalists for all the bands are strong, with lots of variation. Adhur’s vocalists has enough techniques to match all the symphonic elements, Aiumeen Basoa’s vocalists’ range had me thinking he was a she (or she’s a he, I’m still a little confused), and Illbetz vocalist certainly is no slouch at growls. Most of these vocalists appear in each other’s bands.
The guitarists are relatively weak in all the bands, but AB’s actually manages to drive the songs for the majority of the time, and whips out a killer solo as well. The bass is hidden, but decent when it’s audible. The drummers are all pretty good, though nothing really stands out with the more interesting folk/symphonic elements in the way. The violinist of AB is especially culpable.
All bands sound very similar in theirs styles, with each group focusing on different aspects to create a different sound. Adhur focuses on making especially pretty melodies, AB is the most guitar-driven, and by extension, most ‘metal’, and Illbetz is the most energetic, and has the quickest tempos.
An interesting side-note: All bands are centered around the pre-Christianity religion of their area of Spain, and the titles are derived from this Basques regional religion.
This is for anyone who wants something ‘nice’ to listen to who doesn’t mind occasional growls. So, in short, I expect all of you to go check this out.
By C.J Ulferts.