MASQUE OF DEATH - Ivory Cities(MCD/digital download) | Spain | February 2010 | Eddy_litE | Style: Catchy & Melodic Death Metal | Running time: 0:34:59 (tracks: 6)
If Century Media had been sending me this gorgeous debut by Madrid's Masque of Death it would've been their most impressive release since Lacuna Coil's "In a Reverie" from 1999. But they didn't. In fact this band is unsigned. And although I think that Century Media would be the best match for this promising combo, I am afraid for the event to happen. But then again, this EP has Century Media written all over it already. The quality of the songwriting, the arrangements, the artwork and the sheer art of persuasion, it is top-notch all the way.
The Masque of Death origins date back to mid 2004, when singer/composer/guitarist Sofía Ruiz and drummer Abel Ramos met at a local University and decide to mount a music group. After several years of trying different styles with various musicians, the two decide to start a melodic metal project. After considering different options the name Masque of Death is chosen for the project, a derivation of the original idea of Sofia, Masquerade of Death, which was discarded as being too long. The last year has been nervewrecking for the band because they were still studying but great leaps have been travelled to this very day. Not literally, but in the landscape of creativity and defining the coup. As I said before, this MCD must be the most impressive DIY product I have had the pleasure of absorbing in years, maybe even of all time. Yep, it's that good!
Part of the charm comes from Sofía. Not only is she very pretty to look at but her voice will make anyone surrender within the first minute. Cristina Scabbia could be a good reference to give you an idea in which section to look. But as much as I love Miss Scabbia and her Italian posse, she has been poked off the throne by Sofía's mesmerizing voice last week when this masterpiece arrived here. Why I call it a masterpiece, you ask me. Well, what if Within Tempation had the voraciousness of Arch Enemy, and Megadeth the cuteness of The Gathering? Well, then you'd have Masque of Death! Yep, it's that good!
Lyrically, Masque of Death reads like the best Jostein Gaarder novel "Sofies verden". Visually this is pretty much drop dead gorgeous. And musically this album has it all. Melody, attack, adventure, mystique, graciousness, vulnerability, catchiness, heavyness, control and balance. And a sometimes unpredictable blackhaired atomic kitten. I would've provided info on which track is the best then. But I simply can't. Opener "Abeyance" is a good candidate for being the favorite with it's marvelous solo's and massive impact, but so is "Black Red Roses" with it's catchy persuasive swing, and "Numedak" is simply sounding like the Dead can indeed Dance. "Darkest Eyes" is Iron Maiden like Maiden never managed to be and "The Shape of Things to Come" is simply the track I was hoping Queensrÿche would release in the last decade. Again, it's that good!
The strongest point of Masque of Death is it's capability to move the listener and make him or her feel really thankful to be "Alive". And to kick it in the m**her**cking a**! The songs are quite long, with an average of 5 minutes each, but there is never any dull moment going through this magical piece of Efteling Metal. As it suits a Spanish band typically, you will hear many acoustic flamingo style passages performed in a way only the Spanish can. And though the songwriting is very catchy and the main vocals butterscotch sweet, this album should be most able to impress the die-hard metal-heads among us too. Lots of tempo-changes and surprisingly clever fills, and lots and lots of passion, it all adds up to a legendary debut.
And, boy oh boy, that voice! That voice!
Visit the website: www.masqueofdeath.com