Phoenix Rising – Acta Est Fabula
Release Date: 23/07/2021
Running Time: 47:38
Review by Simon Black
Spain’s Phoenix Rising have been quiet in recent years, with this, their fourth full-length album being the first to hit our ears since 2014’s “Versus”. Their music is pure Symphonic and Power Metal, fluidly and expertly delivered with some absolutely beautifully layered arrangements and technically superb musicianship. They also deliver the material in their native Spanish – a language whose lilting and romantic enunciation lends itself perfectly to the genre. They have recorded in two languages in the past, and English versions of some songs on later albums do crop up from time to time, but I encourage you to embrace them in their native tongue. I know this sort of thing can be a turn off for many English listeners, but I urge you to live a little and get out of your comfort zone (especially if you include a certain German Industrial Metal outfit in your music collection, then you have absolutely no excuse).
Like the best technical instrumentalists in this sub-genre, the boys weave the guitar work, expertly delivered by Daniel Martínez and singer Miguel González, working in conjunction with keyboardsmith Jesús M. Toribio. These guys riff off of each other in the time honoured tradition but do it effortlessly make the melody lines flow as one, rather than sounding like there’s a one-upmanship competition going on between the three players in the way Stratovarius or Dream Theater might. This sacrifice of ego over songwriting makes for an incredibly powerful delivery model, ably supported by some fantastic rhythm work from Cristian Rodríguez on bass and Carlos Vivas on the drum stool. Miguel González’s vocals are gruffer than some might expect from the genre, but they absolutely fit the band and lend the whole sound an edginess that would simply not be there if a purely clean vocal approach had been taken. It works cohesively with the music and he does have a good range to support this, which the rich and lavish production accentuates perfectly.
This is clearly a fairly complex concept piece of music, as the press pack included an eighty-seven page PDF novel which is the back story – although sadly my Spanish skills don’t go much beyond ordering a beer so I am missing out here. Nevertheless, this screams ‘attention to detail’ from every pore, but not at the expense of the music and is importantly still making it easy to hook in the more casual listener. The floor wiper for me is definitely ‘El Último Aliento’, which has an incredibly catchy, folky riff and melody, with bounce along beats and the technical stuff held slightly back for the instrumental and solo flourishes despite including some fairly complex orchestration, making it the song you know everyone is going to boogie along to live. It’s technical, but doesn’t sound it to the causal listener, and shows that this band have accessibility as well as incredible musical proficiency at their heart. A cracking piece of music indeed.
01. El Portal de Thalogrim
02. Acta Est Fabula
03. Luna de Sangre
04. El Último Aliento
05. El Doblón de la Muerte
06. Deriva Speranza
07. El Temor de un Hombre Sabio
09. Ira Ciega
10. El Caminante
Miguel González – Vocals & Lead guitar
Daniel Martínez – Lead guitar
Jesús M. Toribio – Keyboards & Orchestration
Cristian Rodríguez – Bass
Carlos Vivas – Drums
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