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Azabache - No, Gracias CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.96 | 7 ratings

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3 stars On the strength of Azabache's excellent debut album Dias de Luna (1979), I decided to buy its successor No Gracias (1980). In the intervening year between the release of these two albums, Azabache's sound appears to have changed considerably. Gone are virtually all vestiges of the symphonic prog that permeated Dias De Luna. My review of that album highlights a prominent Yes influence that this recording sadly lacks. What we have instead is really not much more than a collection of soft-rock songs. I don't think there's any question of this being a concept album, but there does seem to be some kind of ecological thread running through the disc with song titles such as Smoke And Gases and The World Is About To Explode. The title track, No Thanks, is undoubtedly a protest against nuclear energy. The monochrome album cover reflects this idea and features an industrial landscape, with an inset of a suited businessman caught in crosshairs.

From the credits on the digipack cover it's evident that the band had gone through some personnel changes since the previous album. The nucleus of the band remains in situ, and consists of Gustavo Ros (keys), Daniel Henestrosa (guitars) and Jorge 'Flaco' Barral (bass). They are joined here by Hermes Calabria (drums) and Miguel Torres (flute and viola). Torres also handles virtually all the lead vocals, which contrasts with Dias De Luna where the vocal leads were shared among the band. This helps to give the album a more unified sound, while sacrificing some variety. Ros and Barral handle most of the song writing, although new drummer Calabria chips in with a couple of compositions.

Despite the apocalyptic subject matter, Humos Y Gases (Smoke And Gases) is a generic pop song. Contra El Viento (Against The Wind) is the first of two songs that feature guest backing vocals by The Plaster Chorus Band. Guest percussion player Mingo Rivara also adds some roto-toms on this and a couple of other tracks. Gustavo Ros deploys a wide range of keyboards throughout the album including Mellotron, synthesizer and string ensemble, but none of these instruments can prevent the likes of El Calor De Tu Piel (The Warmth Of Your Skin) sounding like just another standard pop song. Sopa De Mar (Sea Soup) is the first song of any real interest so far on the album. The Plaster Chorus Band features prominently on this song and there are some brief vocal flashes that are reminiscent of the choral effects used by Uriah Heep. There's an instrumental section midway through featuring a Daniel Henestrosa solo on Spanish guitar, accompanied by roto-toms and traditional Spanish percussion. Estar Contigo (Being With You) brings the first half of the album to a pleasant close.

The title track begins gracefully and sounds a bit like Yes with cromoharp and mandolin, both played by Flaco Barral, and acoustic guitar. The mood picks up gradually with the choir joining the band in a chorus of 'No, no quiero energia nuclear'. I don't think you need to be a linguist to get the message here. El Mundo Va A Reventar (The World Is About To Explode) is a catchy rocker that was, I believe, issued as a single in Spain. Por Los Viejos Tiempos (For Old Times) is a sentimental-sounding ballad with a fine guitar solo to finish. The album closes with Cabeza De Test (Head Test), the most progressive piece on the album. It's a two-part song, the first part featuring a plaintive melody and heartfelt vocals. The second part is faster in tempo and almost seems like a new wave song; this new wave influence seems to be a peculiar feature of some Spanish progressive albums of the period.

This album doesn't hold a candle to Dias De Luna; if you are interested in Azabache I would strongly recommend you to start with that album. No Gracias features a very different sound and really isn't very progressive in nature, but with repeated plays it's starting to grow on me. Overall, this is quite a good album with some nice moments so I'll be generous and award it 3 stars.

seventhsojourn | 3/5 |


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