Apr 2, 2012

REVIEW REQUEST: Dragonauta - Luciferatu ...

Dragonauta have the reputation as being Argentina's first real doom band. I don't know how much of that is true but they were the first doom metal band I ever heard from the country. This review-request is for their first real full-length as the releases before it were demos but they did take part in a split release with the great Natas back in the year 2000. What is perplexing about the 'Luciferatu' album released in 2003 is it is not that doomy at all apart from the odd Saint Vitus tinged passage. The band is more of a stoner-doom band these days than they ever were in their humble beginnings but this is still a very good album, not just a very good doom metal album so if you looking for something that is pure doom, stay away from this. This album is an homage to 70's rock, proto-heavy metal, progressive rock, heavy psychedelia and early occult rock bands such as Black Widow and Coven. But of course the main ingredient is huge Black Sabbath inspired riffs and in almost every song, there is at least one sabbath reference point to be heard but in one track, the sabbath influence is borderline copying.

The track I am referring to is 99% stolen directly from the self-titled Black Sabbath song and that track titled 'Funeral Magico' fails miserably but missteps like this are few and far between as most of this album is smoking hot. The opening pair of incredible tunes, 'Bruta-Vu (Hijo Del Diablo)' and 'Tomega Pentagram' are pure ear-candy for the occult, heavy prog addict. Blending Tony Iommi inspired monster riffage with Hendrix freaked-out psychedelic passages is exciting enough but the icing on the cake is avant-garde jazz-tinged elements a-la King Crimson. The combination is truly captivating and it is only matched by the production which has the old dusty vinyl vibe embedded in its grooves as well. Dragonauta don't leave their Argentine rock roots behind either. The country has a long history of supplying inventive heavy prog rock with acts like Vox Dei and El Reloj and those influences come to the fore often, especially in songs like 'Antologia De Un Hombre Santo' which is a 9 minute masterpiece of gripping heavy, doomy prog rock.

One of the bands strong-suits is vocalist Federico Wolman. This guy has a wonderfully powerful, charismatic voice; raw at times and very melodic at other times, the man is one of the most underrated singers of the last 15 years. Dragonauta don't leave anything to chance in many of their songs so they throw everything into the melting pot; jazzy breaks, bluesy and psychedelic leads, tempo changes and even some cowbell. While the band is not original at all, they combine all the clichéd elements with such efficiency that it never gets dull. As I already mentioned, the only time they stumble is when they play a little too close to the Black Sabbath blueprint. The main problem with that is they can't do it too well and they sound much better when they are using inflections of the sabbath sound, and not trying to reproduce their sound.

While this is steadfast in the 70's heavy rock vain, it is REAL heavy, almost Electric Wizard kind of heavy in small doses so there is plenty for volume-worshipping riff lovers to get their rock off on. Since the release of this album in 2003, they went from strength to strength. First with a split with the also very underrated Abdullah in 2005, another great full length called 'Cabramacabra' in 2006 and 2010's 'Cruz Invertida.  The band also appears on the 'Sacred Groove' and 'A Timeless Tale...' (Tribute to Saint Vitus)  compilation albums. Guitarist Alejandro Gómez is also an acclaimed artist and has been involved with several art exhibitions.  If you have never heard Dragonauta you have been missing out on one very good band. Maybe it is an isolation thing being from Argentina but this band should be considered minor legends by now with the doom, stoner and retro-rock scenes. 'Luciferatu' is far from being their best work but it is still a great place to start with getting to know the band. Buy this and you will enjoy it but keep in mind, if you dig this, wait till you hear their other works, those albums are amazingly good! ....7.5/10.

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