Alma Eterna - Siempre libres (2013) - Traditional metal meets folk sounds from the Andes - 72% (15/07/14)
Alma Eterna hails from Potosi, Bolivia. The band is an old school heavy metal group that feels like it could have come straight out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement just after bands like Diamond Head, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and so on. A few early power metal influences from bands such as Helloween can also be heard. On their second output Siempre Libres, the sextet features sharp riffs, as in the crunchy mid-tempo banger “Siempre Libre”, as well as beautiful guitar melodies as witnessed in the more power metal oriented “Guerreros de la Libertad”. Everything is dominated by powerful, moderately high register lead vocals, and supported by a male chorus. From time to time, the band also presents a more atmospheric and slightly progressive track like “Yana Kallapa”, which includes some sound samples and spoken passages. Finally, the record also offers some laid back rock ballads like “Muneca”, which reminds me of a mixture of Smokie and Guns ‘N Roses. Even though this kind of music isn’t quite my cup of tea, it surely is a solid song.
There is one thing that definitely makes this band stand out though. It’s Daniel Lopez Diaz, who plays several wind instruments in each song. These folk elements of the Andes work surprisingly well, and are a fresh addition to the band’s sound, as they weren’t included on the band’s debut Alma En La Eternidad. That record was pure heavy metal with a certain charm, but nothing to make it sound unique enough to stand out among many better-produced and publicized revival acts.
The band is still definitely a heavy metal band and not a folk metal act, but the variation between melodic guitar solos and flute solos works very well. These instruments are a reoccurring and original element, but always remain just one among others and don’t sound redundant. It adds a wide range of emotional possibilities and new melodic passages to the sound. The band simply fuses a powerful Western heavy metal sound with some authentic folk elements of their own country, and apart from the disharmonic “Intro” (that makes me think of the soundtrack for an old Hong Kong martial arts movie), this combination is the winning element for this band.
If you are a fan of traditional heavy and power metal, but feel tired of all the interchangeable revival bands that continue living in the past, Alma Eterna might be an exciting alternative for you. For me, this authentic band comes as a welcome surprise and should get some more attention in the globalized heavy metal scene.
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