Dia De Los Muertos: "Satanico Dramatico" - Album Review


Based in Los Angeles but with deep roots in Latin America, the band Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) have served up their first full-length release – six years after their self-titled 2005 debut EP – and this new helping of scorching-hot metal is being offered as a totally free download. Of course I'm always ready to scoop up free stuff, but I also couldn't resist the band's wicked artwork and their awesome single "Fresh Meat for the Grinder," so I headed over to their official site to grab a copy of Satanico Dramatico and give it a virtual spin. Read on to find out all about it...

Dia De Los Muertos have a style you won't hear too often in the extreme-metal world: they bring together elements of both North American and Latin American backgrounds, incorporate male and female vocals for multi-lingual lyrics, and assemble an impressive roster of guest performers from several countries. The end result is a metal melting pot, blending different musical genres (mainly thrash and death metal) and bubbling over with solid riffs, menacing vocals and intricate rhythms.

Another admirable thing about DDLM is their philosophy of sharing music with the world – a concept that co-founder & drummer Alfonso Pinz—n calls "Metal Para Las Masas" (Metal for the Masses). He's stated openly that the band doesn't want any money for this album: "True metal has never been about milking money out of the fans," he proclaims. "If you like the band, we only ask you to download this album and play it as loud as you can!" That turned out to be pretty good advice.

Satanico Dramatico was produced by metal icon Jeff Walker (bassist & vocalist for Carcass and Brujeria), who also contributes to "Fresh Meat for the Grinder." Walker's just one of several guest artists involved in this record: other contributors include Tony "Maldito X" Campos of Asesino (also Static-X and Ministry), Scott Carlson of Repulsion, Boris Bonillo of Letum Ascensus, Anton Reisenegger of Chile's Pentagram, Andres Gimenez of A.N.I.M.A.L, and Jonny Coffin of horror-rockers The Death Riders.

With a title like "Las Calaveras Del Terror," you may be surprised that the opening track begins with a gentle Mariachi-style acoustic guitar... but don't be fooled into turning up your speakers too high, because you're about to get ripped apart. The blend of furious speed-picking and chunky drop-tuned riffs that come in next  underscore the feral, sharp-edged growls of vocalist Joana dP Valencia, whose style is similar to Arch Enemy's Angela Gossow. "Plague Mass" is pure Slayer-style thrash, with a no-nonsense rhythmic pattern and breakneck pace. Maldito X takes up the mike for the short but intense "Sigo Siendo El Rey," and the instruments fall into line with his death-metal vocal approach. The mid-tempo opening "Death's Embrace" sets it up as one of the album's more evil-sounding cuts, before changing up the pace with each new section of the song to create an effective haunted-house ride, closing with an eerie whisper from Valencia.

The album's centerpiece is definitely "Fresh Meat For The Grinder," with Jeff Walker and Scott Carlson providing lead and backing vocals, respectively. The booming intro chords give way to ominous chugs, then a dynamo of low old-school riffs, thundering bass and flamboyant percussion beneath the interlocking low & high voices. "Here Hell Rises" has an infectious, scampering riff that blends very well with Valencia's snarling-tigress vocals, and segues neatly into "The Fifth Republic," which brings Boris Bonillo's voice into the mix to complete the album's purest death-metal cut.

Anton Reisenegger then takes over the front position for the superb Spanish-lyric piece "Bestia De Las Mil Cabezas," which not only contains some of their sharpest, heaviest riffs, but also some great dynamic rhythms from Pinz—n, creating a powerful tribal-ritual feel. Another Spanish track, "Sigo Vivo," is the only song with melodic vocals (provided by Andres Gimenez), and stands apart as a result... but it's still a solid slab of more traditional-style metal. The album closes on a pensive note with the album's title track, a mellow but dark surf-rock instrumental featuring Jonny Coffin on guitar.

Satanico Dramatico is a hearty serving of diverse metal with a distinctly Latin flair, and while it tends to run all over the map (literally) between genres and performing styles, there's still a straightforward honesty and energy behind the music that ties the tracks together. Again, the band is giving away the entire album for free at the official Dia De Los Muertos site, so you truly have nothing to lose in checking this one out.