Probably the best South American Heavy Metal act ever, RATA BLANCA stands like a cult band in this highly “Metalized” continent and “Magos, Espadas Y Roses” is without doubt their supreme work. It is a really strong release and even if nowadays it can sound a little bit cliché-filled and unoriginal, it wasn’t so in 1990, when still was possibly to be a Heavy/Power Metal band and sing about fantasy and enchanted forest without being “just another one”. On the other hand, this album (which title can be translated as “Wizards, Swords And Roses”) is much more than just that… every song has its own personality and distinctive lyrical theme and you can not like it because of many reasons except by one: boringness.
Musically, “Magos, Espadas Y Rosas” is a master album. Riffs are incredibly heavy and it has wonderful solos, while the drum work will be always revolving your stomach. Only the vocals can turn a little bit annoying sometimes, especially when they are too forced to give an epic touch, but I had even learned to love them. The disc mixes fastness, one of the most beautiful Metal ballads I know and some Rock’n’Roll sometimes, but still keeping a coherent unity that makes it recognizable from other RATA BLANCA releases.
The opening track is the extremely epic Power Metal song “La Leyenda Del Hada Y Del Mago” (The Legend Of The Fairy And The Wizard). Scared by the title? Wait to see the translation of the first paragraph… “Tells the story of a wizard, that one day in his enchanted forest he wept, because despite his magic, he still couldn’t find love”. Well, as I said before, this wasn’t so annoying back in 1990 and we surely can’t blame RATA BLANCA if Power and Heavy Metal with time became such clichéd genres. On the other hand, this is a truly awesome song. It is really fast, with a strong as hell riff and outstanding solos. Aside of that, it has an extremely catchy melody and chorus.
The album continues with “Mujer Amante” (Lover Woman), which, I have to say, is one of the best and most overwhelming Heavy Metal love songs I now. It is a slow, beautiful ballad and with the best and most natural vocal performance in the disc. The lyrics are poetic, just the perfect declaration of love and it can be just the special soundtrack to kiss a beloved person for the first time. I still have to say that my first impression about it was: “great but overrated”, but “Mujer Amante” grew on me incredibly with time.
The third track is “El Beso De La Bruja” (The Kiss Of The Witch) and is another epic one in the vein of the first. I’m sure the main riff was simply plagiarized from somewhere (I can’t exactly remember where), but is once again a really good song. Then comes “Haz Tu Jugada” (Do Your Move), that keeps a more Rock’n’Roll style and with a really important and heavy guitar work, having long instrumental parts where guitarists Walter Giardino and Sergio Berdichevsky play a lot. Lyrical themes are about self-power and the search for freedom and I have to say it is always nice to hear about that in a Metal song.
The fifth song is called “El Camino Del Sol” (The Sun’s Path) and is the longest one with minutes length. It can sound weird, but it has an incredible similarity with CANDLEMASS. I tend to think it is simple coincidence as it is more than probable that these guys didn’t even listen to the Swedish Doom Metal creators, but anyone who had heard the album “Nightfall” just have to agree with me; after all, this was made 3 years after CANDLEMASS’ masterpiece and is hard to think it wasn’t a source of influence. The song has a really heavy, ceremonial atmosphere that embraces everything and the chant has a unique and unconventional structure (with not well defined choruses, bridges etc.). Is really worthy its length as is built with geniality and once again, the guitar work reaches perfection.
A slow keyboard introduces us to “Días Duros” (Hard Days), which is my least favourite song on the disc. It has, once again, a really strong Rock’n’Roll ambient, but is not really something you hadn’t heard before and vocals are just too forced. I would say that “Días Duros” is the only weak point for an album that is a Heavy Metal gem. And so we pass to the closing track, that is a great quiet, hypnotic instrumental called “Porqué Es Tan Difícil Amar” (Why Is So Difficult To Love?) and two other equally worthy instrumental tracks can be found as bonus tracks.
As some final general comments about “Magos Espadas Y Rosas”, I have to say is a really interesting album, being its highest points the incredibly talented and heavy guitar work and the deep feelings given to the songs. Is a not repetitive, inspired work that uses a lot of different influences to create something unique. I would recommend this to every Heavy/Power Metal fan, because it is a truly buried-in-time jewel. (Online September 22, 2005)