After having covered a very bad Spanish release with the latest stinker from Tierra Santa, let’s take a look on a rather different effort from another famous Spanish metal band, Mägo De Oz”. The folk and Celtic metal band has been around for twenty-five years now and released Hechizos, Pócimas y Brujería after a short break last year. In comparison to Tierra Santa, which created some decent songs in their earlier years, I had some problems with the high-pitched, overwhelming tone of vocals by this band’s previous singer José Andrëa, who was in the band for fifteen years. The more grounded but still versatile new vocalist, Zeta, who came to the band around the same time as the new bassist and new keyboard player, impresses me much more, and truly convinced me on this, his first release with the band.
Mägo de Oz is a band where the vocals are only one element amongst many others. They have nine band members, including a violin player and a musician for wind instruments such as bodhrans, flutes, and whistles. The mixture of folk and power metal on the new album should immediately appeal to fans of bands like Italians Elvenking or the French Les Trois Fromages, with highly danceable, fun songs like “H20z” (that also has a very humorous video clip). The band also offers more metal-driven tracks, like “El Libro De Las Sombras” or “Xanandra”, which should please those who adore DragonForce, Helloween, or Rhapsody of Fire.
My personal highlights are others still, like the classic hard and progressive rock-inspired “No Pares (De Oír Rock & Roll)”, that sounds a little bit like a folk version of Deep Purple with its dominating keyboards. The operatic female vocals in the playful middle part come as welcome surprise as well. “Brujas” convinces with a darker atmosphere, excellent guitar solos, and a very smart use of female vocals. The closing title track, however, is the true highlight of this album. It features the band’s signature Celtic folk influences, including excellent flute play, emotional guitar solos, and many gripping changes of atmosphere in over eight minutes of stunning music.
If you can get your hands on the limited or digital version of the record, you should definitely do so. “Piratas” is a dark and cinematic track that perfectly fits the topic. This song would fit any soundtrack to a pirate movie. It reminds me a little bit of the German medieval rock band Cultus Ferox, in fact. A big surprise comes with the instrumental “Obertura Xanandra”, which is an excellent progressive metal track that could also have come from Dream Theater, and that easily beats the instrumental overture of that band’s last self-titled record. That’s nothing I would have expected from a Spanish folk metal band, but they really prove here what excellent and varied musicians they are.
If you want an outburst of creativity centered on a vivid Celtic folk metal fun ride, this album should be yours by now.