Tierra Santa - _Tierras de Leyenda_
(Locomotive Music, 2000)
by: Alvin Wee (9 out of 10)
Mention Tierra Santa in a group of Spanish metalheads and you'll hear no end of it; say the same to anyone outside the country and chances are you'll get blank stares. Heroes in their homeland and all but zeroes (dare I say this?) outside it, TS certainly deserve a ton more than what they've got in return for last year's godly _Legendario_ album. Those who know the band can't help but worship their brand of old-school, ultra-melodic true metal, and the lukewarm response they've received outside the Spanish-speaking world has been dismal, to say the least. My expectations for this album never did run very high: expecting it to top a modern classic like _Legendario_ would be akin to hoping for another _Seventh Son..._. Locomotive Music responds with notably stunning packaging: a triple fold-out digi-pak in lavish color and a clear tray, a classy booklet and a beautifully printed picture-CD sets the medieval tone for these Spanish swordsmen. The requisite epic intro leads into the characteristic Maiden-worshipping twin-guitar attack of the title track, Angel's fiery cries cutting an authoritative swath through dense waves of bass and florid guitar lines. Weak in the knees from the initial assault, we're led through another typical anthem before the highlight of the album: a two part epic saga of piracy, in the true Running Wild tradition, lyrics apparently credited to one "Jose de Espronceda (1808-1842)". A rollicking adventure on the high seas, _La Cancion del Pirata_ leaves no doubt about the band's ability to craft subtle yet catchy melodies that just go on and on, adding a considerable measure to the similar structure of Running Wild's epics. The second part proves even more captivating as the privateers slip into mellower jerkins for a variation on the first theme. Seldom does metal get this atmospheric... Thanks to the thematic artwork behind each printed lyric, we are never quite lost despite the unfamiliarity of the language; tales of pharaohs and mummies abound in suitably "Egyptian" melodies, Sodom and Gomorrah gets a lashing, and even the Tower of Babel gets a mention. Remarks have been made about having to adapt to the strange-sounding language, nevertheless I couldn't imagine it in any other language: the fiery music complements the language perfectly, in the same way Master's Hammer would sound wrong in any other language than Czech. Needless to say, the music is of a consistently high quality, and without the benchmark _Legendario_, this would rank as the greatest Spanish album ever. As it is, this band demands a place in any self-respecting metalhead's collection, and this album should serve as an excellent introduction to these Spanish sorcerers.

(article published 10/25/2000)


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