Dies Irae


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At the height of the '80s thrash movement, the band Watchtower turned heads with the brutish, technical ecstasy of Control and Resistance, which combined the heaviest music of the time with complex musicianship straight out of the Guitar Institute. A decade and a half later, that album's heir apparent finally materialized with Naïve. The modern, harsh setting for Dies Irae, named after the Latin hymn that literally translates as "Day of Wrath," is a modern death metal landscape, replete with the harsh, hoarse, growling vocals the genre is known for courtesy of Juan Manuel Darhen. This is the only facet of the Mexican foursome's sound that can be termed as complacent, however, as the record spins off into uncharted territory often, and with outstanding results. The delicate, yet powerful bass of Carlos Orozco and an overall classic metal feel bring to mind Iron Maiden's galloping style, but modernized with the atmospheric undertones of the best Scandinavian death metal acts (it was recorded with legendary black metal producer Fredrik Nordström in Göteborg). The musicianship is impeccably enigmatic as well, but this doesn't dilute the power of deliberate tracks, such as the doomy "Slow, Slow." Finally, the ability of the group to write catchy riffs that never get boring cannot be stressed enough. Indicative of this is the nearly nine-minute "Parallel Universe (Part I)" and the eight-minute "Part II" reprise that closes the disc, approximating King Crimson doing Metallica's "The Call of Ktulu" in the manner of Paradise Lost. There will probably be bigger death metal releases than Naïve, but you'll be hard-pressed to find any which are as innovative and breathtaking.

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