Tuesday 19 March 2024

Magma Soul - Sacred Fire (2024)

Country: Mexico
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 19 Mar 2024
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Here's a fascinating band who don't come from Spain, as they were presented to me, but instead from Mexico City, Mexico. They do start out in Spanish, the first three tracks performed that way, but then they switch to English for the rest of the album, including English language versions of a couple of those opening three, only La Puerta Falsa here only in Spanish. That seems odd, but it's not the oddest thing about the album, because they're all over the musical map, enough so that very few songs can be compared to each other.

That starts out feeling a little offputting but settles quickly, until this starts to seem like a covers album featuring all the songs that the band were influenced the most by, only where none of the songs are actually covers, even those three opening songs in Spanish.

La Puerto Falsa is a solid stomper, a punchy piece set up by Alexis Mendoza's able bass. Paraiso is an alternative rock ballad except for when it isn't. There's Beatles-like poppy punctuation behind the verses but it heavies up so that Alejandro Cuadros can deliver a searing guitar solo while the rest of the band stubbornly refuses to up their energy to match his. Talk about a moment for him in the spotlight! El Poder has a jiggy dance feel, but it's a hard rock song, rather like Jet covering Runrig. Vocalist Rob Rodriguez gets some real attitude into his delivery that's not as effective on the English language version.

So that's three completely different rock songs, at which point they shift into English to continue to shake up any expectations we might have left. The Other Side kicks off with southern rock slide guitar and adds seventies organ, but ends up in modern alt rock territory. You Get What You Give stays southern, even without the slide, to sound more like the Black Crowes. Woman is a funkier take on Bad Company, with yet another blistering guitar solo. There's a third on Beyond the Sun, even though it's otherwise a grungy Scorpions-esque song and, beyond the sheer versatility that pervades the album, it's those solos that work best for me.

Again on My Own and Stardust are both alt rock, but the former sounds like it belongs back in the eighties, a bouncy pop rock song with Blondie verses against Police ska guitar and then Jet in the chorus, while the latter is clearly far more nineties, with a grungier outlook. After that, they shift back to the seventies. In Rock We Trust is underpinned with seventies organ in the Jon Lord style but it unfolds more as a glam rock song, almost like the Sweet covering Y&T covering Deep Purple. The Messenger 2.0 is purer glam rock but with a heavier alt rock backdrop and some urgency right out of early Iron Maiden.

I should add that Higher Power is El Poder sung in English—apparently the higher power is love, in case you were wondering, which I'm not going to argue with—and Paradise is the English language version of Paraiso, of course. But that said, I've run through all these songs and you're imagining that Magma Soul sound just like a dozen completely different bands. Which they do but that isn't at all helpful in the grand scheme of things. I'm imagining a festival in Mexico where Magma Soul serve as the entire line-up, playing a dozen sets in a dozen different ways, so meeting everyone's tastes at some point or other.

Of course, that also means that my favourite song would be similarly meaningless and would likely change with every listen. Right now, I'd throw out In Rock We Trust and Beyond the Sun, but that'll change tomorrow, I'm sure, and I'll be right then too. You—yes, you reading this—could pick a pair of completely different songs that fit your tastes and you'd be right as well. And that means that they're going to be one of the most fun bands to stumble into a club and hear in Mexico City, but I think they'll need to carve out an actual sound of their own to shift much further beyond that, one that can draw from all these influences but in parallel rather than in serial. I'm looking forward to hearing them grow.

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