La Dama del Alba: an uneven work but with a good hard-edged sound

La Dama del Alba

Falgar, La Dama del Alba, Greece, Nebular Winter Productions, cassette NWP01 (2013)

With a title that translates into English as “The Lady of the Dawn”, this album by Puerto Rican BM band Falgar is structured around a concept based on the ancient Greek goddess Artemis, the protector of wild animals and the goddess of the hunt. The cover artwork suggests a scene from a mediaeval Arthurian romance but don’t be deceived that this presages dreamy shoegazer BM pop ditties. This album is a  cold and harsh affair with a sharp and abrasive sound and a ragged, almost deathly BM vocal.

The music proper begins with the title track after a brief ambient introduction that seems soothing but carries hints of a savage pagan spirit lurking not far below the tranquil bell-like tones. “La Dama del Alba” has a steady pace relying on repeating riffs and melodies to carry it through. On the whole the music is secondary to the lyrics which are hard to follow as the vocal is highly distorted. People who understand Spanish will get far more out of the album than those who don’t but the latter can accept the rough singing as part of the album’s sonic texture. The sound is very, very raw, a bit bluesy and has a strong rock flavour reminiscent of some of the old Russian Blazebirth Hall bands I used to listen to and some of whose albums I still have and play sometimes (if I can find them in the bedroom corner mess).

Most songs are repetitive and emphasise fairly simple and straightforward melodies and riffs: a parallel can be drawn between Falgar and some of Burzum’s old albums before the Norwegian went to prison. Where the melodies are good and distinctive, the songs can be memorable (“Renacimiento” and especially “Seguiré” stand out in this respect) and might even be ideal singles material if “La Dama …” were better known. The atmosphere is usually very melancholy with little change. There is the danger that in tracks like “Seguiré”, the sadness and slow pace are overdone to the point where listeners might end up feeling a bit alienated from the proceedings.

For me the stand-out track is “Fango y Frio” for its hard-edged and unrelenting grinding rhythm and sound which is even more hard-bitten than the rest of the album. At the other extreme, the big downer is the outro all-ambient looping autopilot instrumental of which if I say anything more is going to put TSP readers off entirely.

Not a bad album but on the whole, “La Dama del Alba” presents as a fairly average and uneven recording of its kind: the slow pace of most songs ends up being something of a drag and a drain so the emotion and energy that might be expected out of such raw-sounding music and the harder-than-hard riffs and rhythms are absent. The singing lacks emotion as well and perhaps it over-dominates in most songs. There aren’t that many purely instrumental sections where the guitars could just let rip and spill out all their guts, even if just for a little while, to release pent-up intense feelings. Overall there are some good songs and then there are tracks that should have been left off the album entirely. But hey, this is part of the learning curve for Falgar man Etienne Goldberg Santini; with more recordings, he is sure to improve his song-writing and music composition skills, learn what works and what doesn’t, and then we’ll see what he’s really capable of. I come away from “La Dama del Alba” with the impression that Falgar has a good hard sound, good musicianship and production skills, and plenty of imagination and source material from which some very inspiring ambient BM might arise.

Contact: Nebular Winter Productions

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