|Musical Style: Power Metal/Thrash||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: Puerto Rico|
|Year Released: 2004||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 70%|
|Running Time: 45:06|
Puerto Rico based Pacto de Sangre was put together in 1996 by brothers Carlos (drums), Mizael (bass) and Eliezer (guitars) Robles. Initially using the moniker Plenitud, the three rounded out the bands first official line up upon recruiting guitarist Felix Guzman and vocalist Luis Vila. When it was later discovered that another band was also calling itself Plenitud, a permanent name change was made at that point to Pacto de Sangre. Hector Garcia (a.k.a. Metalomen) soon replaced Luis Vila on vocals, finalizing the line up that went on to record Pacto de Sangre’s 2002 three song demo Arrepientete and its 2004 full length debut Alerta.
Alerta finds this talented five piece unit taking a foundation of power metal and infusing it with elements of thrash and melodic metal. Yes, there is a bit of variety here but in the end this proves a good thing in that it helps prevent the album from becoming a trite listen. The catchy “Alerta” and the ballads “Ve A Predicar” and “Amen”, for example, showcase the more melodic side to the bands songwriting skills while the anthem-like “Holy Ghost” and the incredibly “Lay Ley de Dios” give rise to a power metal influence. Pact o de Sangre even puts an extreme facet to its sound on display on two thrash flavored numbers in “Cae,Cae” and “Arrepientete”.
It is worth pointing out that only two tracks here - “Holy Ghost” and “Warning” – feature lead vocals in English. Metaloman, irregardless, proves a very fine vocalist who brings a high end and clean lead vocal style that helps lend to the bands comparisons to the likes of Jacobs Dream, Queensryche, Sacred Warrior, Haven and Iron Maiden. Felix Guzman and Eliezer Robles form a balanced dual guitar attack (check out the lead work on “Arrepientete” and “Lay Ley de Dios”) and help anchor the bands sound with the rhythm section of Carlos and Mizael Robles. Mizael also contributes the extreme vocals to both thrash based numbers in addition to spicing up several others with his harsh delivery.
Production values prove quite solid for an independent release but, as a result of an element of thinness in the mix, would improve with a slight touch of big budget polish.
“Alerta” gets underway to an introduction highlighted by an ominous blend of keyboards and narration. The keyboard solo that ensues transitions to a forward wall of rhythm guitar, a melodic metal environment put in place as the song cruises at an upbeat tempo to an infectious chorus reinforced by vocal harmonies. All in all, an effective album opener with a huge hook you will be challenged to rid of your mind.
The Sacred Warrior style power metal of “Holy Ghost” begins to an acoustic guitar solo before a brazen rhythm guitar takes over the mix. Following a piercing death metal-like scream, the song surges through its first and second verse in anthemic fashion, the authoritative setting maintained for a deep and resounding chorus reflecting an epic feel. The subject matter to “Holy Ghost” is self-explanatory:
The time has come for the Spirit to take place
In the hearts and the minds of every man
The Spirit I say is a Spirit we know
The Spirit of God is the Holy Ghost
Metalomen really shines here with his high end vocal delivery.
“Ve A Predicar”, the first of the albums two ballads, is carried through its first verse and chorus by a gentle blend of piano and quietly played guitar. Once a crunchy rhythm guitar interweaves with the piano, however, a more resolute scene is preserved as the song moves ahead to its emotionally charged chorus one more time. A very compelling number that reflects a softer side to the bands songwriting skills.
“Cae, Cae” is a thrash influenced track in which bassist Mizael Robles takes on a heavy duty vocal approach that borders on the extreme. While the song generates a plethora of energetic and guitar driven initiative and is not bad from a musical standpoint, I find the gruff feel to the vocal delivery here to almost come across overbearing. I tend to pass on this one though I can see how those into the thrash genre might get into it.
A commercial hard rock direction is taken on “Da Verdad”. This is another piece I find to not quite make the grade, coming across somewhat restrained while failing to deliver the same noteworthy melody the albums better material brings to the table. It is this reviewers opinion other tracks here do a better job showcasing the bands potential.
The ballad “Amen”, on the other hand, represents Pacto de Sangre at its very best. The song slowly moves through its first verse to a quietly played guitar line, not picking up in pace until the rhythm guitar steps forward in time to shore up an infectious chorus delivered in poignant fashion. One of the albums finest moments takes place when a guitar driven instrumental section is followed by a lengthy stretch of spoken word narration.
“Arrepientete” falls victim to the same thrash tendencies characteristic to “Cae, Cae”. If I were to invite a comparison this one gives rise to more of a power metal influence (not to mention featuring a killer guitar solo); that being said, the heavy handed feel to the gruff vocal delivery of Mizael again holds things back. Once more, fans of the thrash genre will find a home here but more often than not I end up hitting the skip button.
“La Ley de Dios” showcases a speed metal/power metal sound that brings to mind a combination of early Deliverance and classic Barren Cross. Introduced to a hard hitting riff that gradually builds in intensity, the song energetically storms ahead prior to transitioning to a prevailing chorus fortified by Mizael’s harsh growls. A run of fast fingered lead guitar work brings out the best in a piece that does a good job combining the best elements of the melodic and the extreme.
“Warning”, an English version of the albums title track, delivers the same catchy hook and upbeat impetus along with a meaningful message:
When time has come
The ending at last
Tribulation, suffering nations
The sun, moon and stars
Will all turn to black
You’ll see the sun forever die
You will see the Son of Man
Glory, power and might
So you better be prepared
Or you will never see the Light
What impresses me most about Pacto de Sangre is its ability to compose a high quality composition, the likes of “Alerta”, “Holy Ghost”, La Le de Dios” and the two ballads reflecting the strength of the bands songwriting skills. On the other hand, the thrash based numbers fail to do it for me – again, those into thrash will certain get into these; if such is the case then add 5 or 10 points to the albums final score – and the albums production could use a bit of polish. All around, Pacto de Sangre proves quite the talented outfit that I am looking forward to hearing more from in the future. And that is a very good thing because at the time to this writing Pacto de Sangre is in the pre-production stage of its 10 song follow up release The Days Of Egypt. The album will reportedly movie in a more defined power metal style while blending in elements of speed metal and thrash.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “(Intro) Alerta” (5:46), “Holy Ghost” (4:44), “Ve a Predicar” (6:23), “Cae, Cae” (4:12), “De Verdad” (3:31), “Amen” (6:40), “Arrepientete” (3:09), “La Ley de Dios” (5:29), “Warning” (5:08)
Hector “Metalomen” Garcia – Lead Vocals
Eliezer Robles & Felix Guzman – Guitars
Mizael Robles – Bass
Carlos Robles – Drums
Wilfredo Gonzalez - Keyboards