The Spanish Gothic Metal band DIABULUS IN MUSICA, not to be mistaken with SLAYER’s album “Diabolus In Musica”, was formed in 2006. In 2009 they put out a 4-track demo called “Secrets”, followed by their debut full-length in 2010, also titled “Secrets”. For this album the production was in the hands of Sascha Paeth (ANGRA, RHASODY, KAMELOT, EPICA, AVANTASIA, …) and Ad Sluijter (ex-EPICA). Members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, RTVE Orchestra, Spanish National Choir, and the ensemble Nova Lux also collaborated in the recording of “Secrets”. This release spread the news that a new band was in town and ready to show the world what they had on offer. And so the Spanish guys and girl got to share the stage with several big names, like MANOWAR (in Spain), THEATRE OF TRAGEDY (in Mexico) and later ARCH ENEMY, CRADLE OF FILTH, THERION, KREATOR, RAGE, SAXON, EPICA, SABATON and many more. In 2010 DIABULUS IN MUSICA also played at the Belgian Metal Female Voices Fest to return the following year as co-headliner.
Anno 2012, the follow-up to “Secrets” is out: “The Wanderer”. For that the band also changed from Metal Blade Records to the Austrian label that is Napalm Records. “The Wanderer” was released on the 2nd March this year and offers almost an hour of bombastic, symphonic Metal. This is at the same time another new band for me and I can honestly say I’m happy about it.
It all begins with “A Journey’s End”, a intro that comes across as atmospheric, meditational and quite relaxing. The flute and sounds of the sea heavily contribute to that feeling. When the orchestra kicks in, that’s when things begin to move and the whole scenery becomes cinematic, in vein of “Kingdom Of Heaven”, “Lord Of The Rings”, and similar kind of films. This connects neatly with the bombast of “Ex Nihilo”, where aggressive, even Thrashy Metal awaits. The orchestra takes care of the lead work. The choir is backed by firm and pounding Metal which all comes to a halt… and in its stead there’s a short span of eastern chanting before the power breaks loose again. Zuberoa’s clean vocals contrast with the music, but take on a more operatic character a bit later, when the music sounds dreamy (by lack of a better word). The bridge is where the action is, not just in the thundering of the Metal, but also the grunts of Gorka. The chorus then waves the aggression aside, allowing for an easier flow of the music. The singing is less operatic, but the whole does sound theatrical nevertheless. Halfway it’s choir time and the music also grows in power before all reverts back to bridge and chorus. “Ex Nihilo” ends like it started, with what you could call Symphonic Thrash.
“Sceneries Of Hope” also has that theatrical feel, but the orchestra (which sounds a bit crazy) adds to the scenery of damnation occurring. Bombastic Metal follows, lead by the keyboards, while guitar and drums provide power and rhythm. And they sound firm, collaborating very strongly. The bridge is where melodicness sets in and even more in the dreamy, Poppy chorus. This is a very accessible song for which a video was shot. The key focus is on harmonies and melodies. The middle is again the territory of the choir and the assisting bombastic music. The orchestra puts an end to it all later on. Speaking of commercial (when also referring to the Poppy chorus of the previous song), “Blazing A Trail” is such a song. It does rock and this time the guitars and drums stand out, but it’s the chorus which is the guilty part of the impression I have. Vocal duties are divided between clean on one side, screams on the other. The choir serves as connecting element. The chorus, although light and full of melodies and harmonies, does have a heavy guitar sound to fill that aspect. But the main idea is to keep things catchy, hence not that much Metal input. This does come in halfway, when the choir (again) comes to the front, during which the music allows you to bang the head that doesn’t bang, so to speak. The speed increases and gradually the bridge and chorus come back in sight. All in all, ok, but not as strong as the other tracks, in my opinion.
“Call From A Rising Memory (Intro)” is an atmospheric, dreamy interlude with chanting. It serves as an intro to “Hidden Reality”, a song where the band chose to take it slowly. The music is still bombastic and even a bit hymnic. The verses are clean and acoustic with Zuberoa singing with a frail voice, contrary to the bridge and chorus, where she goes operatic. And with the choir, this creates a massive result! There’s a powerful, melodic piece over halfway with a big role for the orchestra and choir, which set the basis for the rest of the song. The cinematic character of before also comes out in “Shadow Of The Throne”. This track also sounds dark and mysterious at first, as if danger is near. And then it’s Metal time! Very rhythmic, no orchestra, only ballsy music! Obviously, to accompany that, you need extreme vocals that fit the Thrashy/Deathy sound of the music. The choir is again present, albeit in the chorus, which sounds quite grand! Needless to say, DIM did an excellent job here (again).
After the aggressive sounds, you can relax with “Allegory Of Faith, Innocence And Future”. This is an acoustic, Folky song with operatic vocals. When the electricity is activated, whispering growls replace the frail voice of before, while full volume is set in the chorus. Over halfway the choir comes in again, first with the acoustic guitar, then with full-on Metal. Epicness! And very much like EPICA. “Sentenced To Life” is a ballad, begins with the piano. Male and female singing join forces. Once the middle is reached, it’s time to open all vents and let the music to the talking. Here the symphonics are of importance. What to say but grand, epic, majestic… ? This comes an end as “Oihuka Bihotzetik” sets the band back on the trail of powerful and bombastic Metal, this in dark and dangerous settings. The verses are heavy (Thrash/Death-like with growls). The choir is present early-on, though set up camp in the bridge, too. Overall even, the choir is a vital aspect in this song.
“No Time For Repentance (Lamentatio)” follows with a mysterious intro, eastern sounding. There’s nothing Metal about it, only film score-like music with bells, zills, orchestra and so on. But then… the contrast! Rolling, thundering Metal kicks in with extreme vocals, while Zuborea’s clean voice occupies the bridge and (Poppy) chorus. The choir comes in later, while a male voice narrates (or contemplates) a tale, the lament, no doubt. The song ends like it started, only with the choir now. “The Wanderer” him/herself is the center of attention in the acoustic, Folky ending track. It’s a soft song and actually perfect to end with, coming to rest from the massiveness of the preceding songs. It’s also good for live performances, somehow. But (personally speaking), it’s not as attractive or strong as many of the other songs.
I mentioned above that “The Wanderer” is my first encounter with DIABULUS IN MUSICA and that I was happy about it. It took me some listens to fully appreciate the songs, but I repeat: I’m positively surprised by the end result. Of course there are similarities with EPICA and other symphonic, female-fronted Metal bands, but if you have to think about those and how well they match, then… I mean, listening to the album itself, I can only conclude that the production is very good, the musicianship dito and despite predictable things, DIM managed to keep the songs interesting and captivating. Recommended!
- A Journey’s End (Intro)
- Ex Nihilo
- Sceneries Of Hope
- Blazing A Trail
- Call From A Rising Memory (Intro)
- Hidden Reality
- Shadow Of The Throne
- Allegory Of Faith, Innocence And Future
- Sentenced To Life
- Oihuka Bihotzetik
- No Time For Repentance (Lamentatio)
- The Wanderer
Zuberoa Aznárez – vocals
Adrián M. Vallejo – guitar, screams
Gorka Elso – keyboards, grunts
Alejandro “Alex” Sanz – bass
Xabier Jareño – drums