THE DEMO CORNER
Beto Vazquez Infinity - Existence
Argentinean bassist/songwriter/arranger Beto Vazquez, formerly of Nepal (Argentinean thrash metal band, not the country in Southeast Asia), has recently released the eagerly anticipated double-CD concept album Existence, featuring more than 20 guest musicians from all over the world.
Vazquez’s unique flavor of gothic/symphonic power metal is definitely a far cry from the nationalistic thrash metal that he played while a member of Nepal. Instead, Vazquez and his guest musicians opt for gothic power metal that relies heavily on keyboards, female vocalists, and dark arrangements.
Past Beto Vazquez Infinity releases have featured notable vocalists such as Fabio Lione and Tarja Turunen. This latest release features plenty of musicians, the most notable being Timo Tolkki (Stratovarius, Revolution Renaissance) and Dominique Leurquin (Rhapsody of Fire, Luca Turilli's Dreamquest). The remaining guest musicians are relatively unknown to major metal labels.
Existence follows the general pattern of fast song-slow song-fast song with few exceptions. Tempo is not the only thing that is varied, though. Each track features a different vocalist or a group of vocalists, and lead guitar duties vary from track to track on top of that. The only thing that really remains constant on Existence is Vazquez playing the bass, whose tone cannot be ignored through the album. Vazquez often plays complex licks and the occasional bass chord, which are bound to make bassists out there smile.
As far as production is concerned, quality varies from track to track as well. Since the singing duties were distributed across the world, not every vocalist had the ability to travel to Argentina to record, especially those who are based out of far-off places such as Denmark, New Jersey, France, and Italy. As a result, mixing came as an obvious challenge at times. This can be noticed in certain tracks.
There were several bright spots within this showcase of relatively unknown singers. Chilean Jason Droguett, featured in the opening track, “When Shadows Fall,” definitely has a vintage metal vocal style and a formidable range into the upper octaves. Other songs feature a more gothic feel, such as “Cold Soul,” which features Slovenian vocalist Mik, who is in a band called So Cold. I wasn’t personally into all of the female vocal performances. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy female vocals. Fans of Epica, Sirenia, HolyHell, and the like will enjoy the operatic styles of vocalists such as Slava Popova and Jessica Lehto.
Guitar work was also quite impressive throughout the 20 tracks. In addition to established professionals such as Timo Tolkki, who plays a great solo in the title track, Patricio Molini (of Nordica) plays an excellent solo in “Beyond Myself,” while Pablo Soler flexes his tapping chops in “Tonight”.
Also worth noting is the fact that the majority of the vocalists featured on Existence have heavy accents. Combined with grammatically incorrect English lyrics, this makes for unintentional comedy at times, especially in the melodramatic spoken word section of the title track, in which Argentine Tenor Dario Schmunck exclaims: “Many things has been written and theorised about the beginning, / but, we finally get to a point where the only thing we cannot question / is our own existence!”
Schmunck also sings on the bonus track on the second disc, a cover of Kerry Livgren/Ronnie James Dio’s “To Live for The King”. I had never heard a conservatory trained tenor perform a Dio song before. It’s quite an interesting cover, to say the least.
Drumming throughout Existence differs from track to track, to the point that I was initially convinced that certain tracks used drum programming. Prime examples include “When Shadows Fall” and “The Vortex”. Other tracks definitely have a more “authentic” drum sound, such as “Council of My Dreams” and “Endless Tears”
Existence is 20 tracks of Beto Vazquez’s imagination coming to fruition. This project obviously took an enormous amount of time, effort and money to put together and I definitely salute Mr. Vazquez for that. Some may contend that the album is too long and seems scattered, but you can’t go after someone for having a strong sense of ambition. After spending 20+ years on the metal scene, releasing visionary material like this double album definitely proves that Beto Vazquez has many more ideas, which will soon be recorded into an interesting brand of gothic power metal.
Release Date: November 1, 2010
Label: BVM Records
01. Shadows Fall
02. Council Of My Dreams
03. The Temple
05. Beyond Myself
06. Celestial Meeting
08. Future City
10. Dark Night
01. Eyes of Destiny
02. Cold Soul
03. Endless Tears
04. Epic Travel
05. Arwen Song
06. Watching You
07. The Vortex
09. Ghost Of Time
10. To Live for The King ( Bonus Track)
Total playing time: 1:28:43
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Reviewer: The Stream
January 25, 2011