Just when I thought I heard everything or every combination of rock or metal blended with other musical styles, along comes San Francisco's Flametal. I asked my coworkers if they could guess what genre of music was being combined with metal just by hearing the band name alone. The younger coworker nailed it: it's flamenco guitar blended with heavy metal. After my first listen to 'Master Of The Aire,' I remarked to myself, 'this is almost too bizarre.' But, you know, this pretty good stuff. The Gypsy Pistoleros mixed traditional ethnic music on their last offering to create a superb work. So why not flamenco and metal? Strange as it is, but true and damned interesting.
On their My Space account, Flametal remarks, 'Our fans keep describing us as Slayer meets Paco de Lucia. We are flattered.' Paco de Lucia is a well known Flamenco guitarist who has crossed into the genres of classical, jazz and world music. The flamenco guitar in Flametal is handled by the impressive Ben Woods; he is skilled and enthusiastic. As for the comparisons to Slayer, well, I wonder. The vocals are raw and raspy, but the music is far removed from Slayer.
So is Flametal an anomaly? After all Apocalyptica mixed traditional cellos with Metallica. Or is this simply, a novel approach for a new form of metal? Honestly, I'm not sure. When you here the flamenco guitar you are surely impressed. And the metal half is quite good. I enjoyed 'Seguiras,' Strange Rails,' Itsvan' and certainly and probably the best number, 'Left Hemisphere.'
The coworker I mentioned previously said that flamenco should be perfectly suited for metal because of its quick and intricate style. I think he may be right. But after listening to 'Master Of The Aire,' I could certainly do without the near dirty vocals. As for the music, well, this off my radar for now. Yet, I had a lot of fun listening to Flametal. A novelty, an aberration? You decide. This is definitely worth checking out. Oh, did I mention that they tour with a flamenco dancer? Let that drift into your imagination.
- Craig Hartranft
Metal and flamenco guitar? Who would have thought? Flametal combines both in a skilled and interesting combination. There's a lot to enjoy on this album, especially if you can get over the near dirty vocals. Yet, it is still a certain anomaly.