Àrnica – Cabeza de Lobo (Review)

ÀrnicaÀrnica are a Spanish neo-folk band and this is their latest album.

The band’s blend of traditional influences and instrumentation, with modern technology and experimental soundscapes, has largely produced an intriguing and engaging end result.

There’s a ritualistic and tribal feel to much of this album. Indeed there’s also a rather hypnotic, repetitive, droning quality to much of it too. Vivid and textured, the music has a lot to recommend itself and has plenty to keep the listener interested.

The weakest part of the release is the male vocals, but only sometimes; they can be quite variable from track to track. Don’t misunderstand though – I don’t mean the performance or quality levels, as these remain static throughout; they’re well-performed and delivered. Rather, I simply mean the style of singing, as sometimes the vocals enhance and add to the music, (most of the time), while at others they simply distract and detract, (some of the time).

The rather dire first song is a great example of this and, probably, the main culprit; having it as the first thing the listener hears doesn’t help. However, other tracks like the third song are a great example of everything coming together nicely, with both the male and female atmospheric singing working very well; I also particularly like the seventh song, with the blackened screams coming as a nice surprise too. As with anything musical, of course, it’s ultimately down to personal taste.

Musically this is a first-rate listen; engaging, absorbing, textured, and rich. Vocally, this is also true when the band get it right, which they do most of the time. When they don’t, however, it’s an opportunity wasted.

Check this out and see what you think.

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