Dantesco - Pagano

11 songs
72:17 minutes
***** ***
Cruz Del Sur


I can’t say that I have ever heard of a heavy metal band from Puerto Rico, an island in the Greater Antilles. Whenever a band emphasises its exotic origin, there is an inherent danger of their music being quite derivative. This could have been an issue with Dantesco who play very traditional power doom metal on their second album Pagano, but as soon as their vocalist Erico La Bestia takes over the microphone, you know you’re in for something unique. My first thought was that this guy wanted to join the opera but instead ended up in a metal band. Female operatic voices are rather trendy and therefore not at all original, but this massive singer surprises with a resonant voice that can as well refer to screams that remind of the late David Wayne.

To make things even more special, the lyrics are all in Spanish, making for an even more operatic feeling, although the music is very classical. Two guitars and a stomping rhythm section, basking in a nicely retro but ultimately excellent production, take care to root the band firmly in Eighties US metal, with bands like Manilla Road, Omen and Warlord being definitive influences, although the Scandinavian doom school (Mercyful Fate, Candlemass) has left its mark too, which is no surprise, considering that all those bands had very distinctive vocalists.

Pagano has actually only one slight flaw: it overstays its welcome. Fifty minutes would be more than enough for this kind of music. The European edition contains two exclusive bonus tracks, one of which (I Came From Hell) even sees the band for the first time singing in English, but next time, Dantesco should opt for some über-tracks instead of crowding the album with good but essentially quite same-sounding material. The ballad De La Mano De La Muerte is a welcome diversion, but wouldn’t it make sense to embed those quieter moments in their normal songs? In the end, Pagano is still a more than rewarding experience that should appeal to retro metal fans and those in search of something original alike.

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