Dragonauta - Cabramacabra
Dias de Garage Records
Stoner/Trad Doom
11 songs (51'25")
Release year: 2006
Dragonauta, Dias de Garage Records
Reviewed by Adam
Sometimes, the hardest portion of writing a review is picking a short and sweet description of the album’s sound. Case in point, Cabramacabra, the latest release from Argentina’s Dragonauta. Calling this album “Stoner/Trad Doom”, as I did, is not wholly accurate, but then again, I have a hard time imagining any description that would be. This is one of those albums that needs to be heard to get an accurate feel of the sound. However, enough whining, I shall do my best. Oh, and one more thing. This review, though necessarily so, contains frequent use of the word "riff". You have been warned.

For those new to Dragonauta, I will offer a short refresher. They are a quick-paced stoner doom band from Argentina heavy on traditional influences. Their previous full length, Luciferatu, was a veritable mish-mash of doom with jazz, prog, and even thrashy moments. After last year’s amazing split with Abdullah, I was pretty eager for what would come next. Cabramacabra continues the doom buffet stylings of their previous work in psychedelic fashion worthy of their name, which, as far as I know, is an homage to the song Dragonaut by doom giants Sleep. The guitars sound great, although they could stand to be a little more full and all consuming, which is a must for good doom in my opinion. The best way I can think to describe the vocals of Federico Wolman would be the Spanish equivalent (all the vocals are sung in Spanish) of a cross between Al Cisneros of Sleep and K.K. Null of Zeni Geva. The opening track, Transmutado, is a guaranteed headbanger, driven by two of the strongest riffs Dragonauta have written to date. Unfortunately, its all downhill from there, but only slightly so. It’s a little unfair I suppose, but when the first track of an album is as good as Transmutado, it becomes a near impossibility to avoid using it as a measuring stick for the subsequent tracks. See, the lone problem I have with Dragonauta is that nearly all their songs live and die with the main riffs. If the riffs shred, the song shreds (see Transmutado). Conversely, if most or all of the riffs used in a song are a bit weak (see Experienciar), neither the vocals nor the rhythm section are capable of carrying the load and turning things around. Luckily, this is a rare occurrence on Cabramacabra.

As I stated originally, Cabramacabra is hard describe. In fact, I would venture to say that I have a harder time describing this album than any other I’ve heard this year. For instance, conveying the general feeling of the wide-ranging track Funeral Magico (Parte II) is not an easy task. Starting with a low key acoustic arrangement accompanied by serenade like vocals, things eventually drift from a deep, heavy doom chorus to portions of acoustics that would not sound out of place in a mariachi outfit. Now, if I had read that description without hearing the song first, I would have a difficult time trying to anticipate what it would sound like. Trust me, it’s worth hearing and works extremely well. The latin guitar influences are a unique and valuble addition, and are also found on the closer El Megalito. Another strange scheme is used for Abducido, which contains crushing doom guitar work and well-placed solos sandwiching a soft prog sounding middle portion.

Cabramacabra is scattered with superb riffing. In addition to those I’ve mentioned, the catalyst riffs of El Festin, Necrogalaxia, Marcha del Dragonauta, and Arcana Premonicion are absolute standouts. If not for the few songs led by subpar guitar lines (Experienciar, Dioses del Submundo), this would be a strong candidate for "album of the year" in my eyes. As it stands, Cabramacabra is great, but I know Dragonauta are capable of better. They are not only very talented, but they have a knack for innovation, which is a fresh sight in the genre of doom. If their next album can manage to be comprised entirely of the pounding catchy riffs that they are obviously capable of, listeners could have an all-time doom classic on their hands. Here’s hoping in advance for that to be the case.
Killing Songs :
Transmutado, Funeral Magico (Parte II), Abducido
Adam quoted 87 / 100
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