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30 August, 2013

Edward Lafuentes - E Magic

Edward Lafuentes - E Magic |self-released, 2013| 4/5

01. C the Sun, 02. Breath of God, 03. Anu, 04. God of War, 05. Mission Ea, 06. On the Bar Rock Star, 07. Don't Wake the Dead, 08. King No Name, 09. Live For Ever, 10. Save Me, 11. N.Y.C.S, 12. Magic

Ed Lafuentes has been working as an engineer and producer at Demon Rose Studio in the Bronx, NYC. During this time, he had a chance to collaborate with a variety of artists such as Pantheon, The Cannibals, Laz Pina (Ill Nino, Shang Hi Fye, Broom Hellda) and Dennis Bell (U2, Lenny Kravitz). As a result, his debut album E Magic shows a heavy metal pedigree. Lafuentes' music has been inspired by Black Sabbath, Slayer, Venom, S.O.D., Candlemass, Alice Cooper or Celtic Frost albums. Still, there's additional sampling, better known to industrial music, mixed into the solid rock sound.

The opening instrumental track "C the Sun" brings a light leitmotif mixed with low tuned bass and slided guitar riffs both enriched with a variety of electronic add-ons. The bass sounds neat and groovy, while the guitars make for a nice contrast with both electronica and drums.
"Breath of God" brings vocals and catchy hooks interlaced with jagged, vibrating guitar riffs. The wall of sound on this track is a result of a skillful combining of guitars, bass and drums. The song is tight and includes memorable arrangements.
The composition of "Anu" leaves space for rhythmic vocals and distorted guitars. Groovy drum beats and bass solidify the track. Since it's quite a long song, the sets of arrangements vary and thus, "Anu" doesn't sound too monothematic. In fact, it sounds like there were at least three musical themes included, each one becoming better developed and more complex as the song progresses.

If you like the heavy and mechanical (yet melodic) vibe of Fear Factory songs with the infamous sound of a drum machine, then "God of War" may be your favourite. Memorable vocal parts and highly pitched, contrasty guitar riffs make it a good track for airplay as well. The vocals seem to be multiplied in a few spots. This technique gives the song an epic, powerful and war-like anthem feel as if the lyrics were sung by a choir of warriors.

"Mission Ea" easily embeds itself in your memory after the first listening. Advancing, pitched guitar riffs with a slightly sentimental vibe make the track sound lighter than it seems to be due to the low tuned, digitally processed arrangements. It's a great track for an action/racing video games since it's instrumental, groovy, hooky, energetic and attractively repetitive.
However, if you need a melodic song which doesn't lack a heavy vibe, then "On the Bar Rock Star" falls into this category. It begins with typical heavy metal riffs, followed by catchy verses almost falling into pop. Yet another wall of sound is supported by the recurring, noisy 'Rock star' vocal phrase. In addition, the truly rocking and fiery mid-part should move everybody, regardless of individual music preferences.

The longest song on the album, "Don't Wake the Dead", begins slowly with a soloing bass and noisy, vibrating guitars. Its mood recalls a lullaby, but not one you may want to sleep to, as the vibe is as haunting as in many Ozzy Osbourne tracks. It's additionally enriched with intriguing electronica and 'crying' guitar riffs.
"King No Name" brings a groovy vibe again, along with repeating, rhythmically spoken verses and screamed choruses. There are a few intriguing, very well composed moments appearing throughout, breaking its seemingly monotone tempo. Then "Live For Ever" comes as another potential hit thanks to the melodic, catchy choruses and tight composition powered by heavy, guitar-driven arrangements. Additional background vocals give it a pop-rock feel, making the song very radio-friendly.

"Save Me" is loaded with very cool beats and techno or even acid house dynamics, on par with the trademark sound of The Prodigy or The Young Gods. The track gets a slightly more lyrical feel later on, eventually returning to the initial dynamic rollercoaster. A hardcore vibe flows out of "N.Y.C.S" thanks to the fast-paced, aggressive drum beats and rapidly shouted lyrics. The bass simply vibrates in the background while the pitched guitar riff gives the song a very cold feel.

The last track, "Magic" seems to be Ed's personal reflection on the subject. It channels Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper's music through the vocals and recurring themes, but also its heavy sound mix of bass, drums and guitars. There are also haunting background samples, illustratively weaving the magical atmosphere throughout the track.

Overall, all twelve songs on this release bring a positive, sensual and nocturnal feel. Several instrumental arrangements (with bits of background vocals sampled here and there) could be instantly deployed in movie trailers, video games or advertisements.
Technically, the rhythm brought by a low tuned bass with noisy, wailing guitars seems to be the most recognizable, key trait of Lafuentes' work on the album. Ed definitely knows how to put his music ideas into conceptual compositions. He keeps the vibe heavy yet mechanical, almost like a Terminator or a tank rolling across the place. Monotony is skillfully avoided through tempo and arrangement changes, but the main theme remains solid in each of the songs. On the downside, a few songs sound too similar to each other. Breaking out of the scheme could bring a slightly fresher feel. Nevertheless, if you like heavy metal music coupled with a modern approach, E Magic will undoubtedly hit the spot for you.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, August 30th, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine