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Anna Fiori - Magna Mater

Anna Fiori - CD Review
Magna Mater

Anna Fiori - Magna Mater

CD Info
Silent Stream
10 tracks
English / Spanish lyrics
9.5 / 10


I’ve kinda been on a Spanish kick lately, but mainly with bands from Spain. But it’s not a good idea to forget about bands from MY hemisphere, bands from Central and South America, many of which are equally as strong as their European cousins. And one of the things I like best about music from this hemisphere is that they have a tendency to perform in Spanish. That may not work for everyone, but my second language is Spanish and it’s a beautiful language, especially in this musical environment. Well, actually in any environment, I’m a big fan of Salsa. You get that in my Miami neighborhoods. Well, Anna is Mexican and Mexican is as good as it gets. I suspect that is a universal opinion in many locations. I’ve had at least one “release of the year” from Mexico, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another.

Anna is a rocker. Plain and simple. But she does a lot of other things on this release. The band takes a multitude of musical directions. But what we come to listen for is that solid vocal, with instrumental and choral touches to take the overall musical package to places we want to hear. It’s pretty much a full package, there’s not a lot of deficiencies.

Anna is not a beginner in the business. She’s a young woman but her professional career dates back a long way. She began her career as an actress, under the artistic name "Annie del Castillo". When she was 4 years old, she acted in a dramatic / musical play called "Canto Verde" (by Olivia de Montelongo), which was represented in Mexico and Russia (Moscow). Not something you can say for many 4 year olds. She later continued her acting career with roles in a number of Mexican soaps and at least one Mexican / Spanish film "Las Pasiones de Sor Juana”. She began her musical career in 1998. Interestingly enough, that early experience was again in Russia. She was the only representative of Latin America in that contest and she received a 3rd place for her efforts. In 2006, she decided to change her artistic name from "Annie del Castillo" to "Anna Fiori", beginning her career as a professional singer. At this point she sang with various rock and metal bands, but the need to create and apply her musical knowledge led her to start her own solo project, directing, singing and composing her own songs autonomously. She began to study bel canto professionally and began teaching at different schools in Mexico City. She continues her training activities with concentrations in various modern methods as a vocal coach. Beyond those activities Anna has performed with numerous front line bands in Mexico, Argentina and Russia. Her current focus is the project under review here working with some significant musicians including Fernando Ricciardulli (Azeroth) bassist, Uriel Merino (Winter Haven) on drums, Markov (Yihad) on guitars and Arturo Ferrante (Mazzat) on keyboards.

Interestingly enough, Magna Mater has already received some significant awards. The release was listed among the best metal albums of 2013 in Latin America by Headbangers, getting # 13 and sharing the list with several great Latin American metal bands, a significant accomplishment for a first album that vastly exceeded expectations in Mexico. And it’s as good as it gets, no matter where it’s from. There’s significant symphonic components, some significant choral work to highlight several tracks, a killer death metal sound and overall excellence across the range of tracks. You get a nice introduction to the material here. As we can typically expect, that first track is a solid classical Gothic selection, but this is one of the best I’ve heard. And this one includes some vocal from the lead vocalist, all over that choral work that is nothing less than stellar. Anna tells me the choral component is done by her music students. They’re clearly paying attention in class, this is a strong point in the release, beautiful music.

But, with the second track, El Día de la Ira (The Day of Wrath) we turn up the metal. You get to see what I have to believe are some of those students since they’re doing the background choral work. And, there’s a killer violin component as well. The lyrics are in Spanish here. That’s not always the case, but they flow especially well here:

Puedo oír en el silencio, / Donde se van los recuerdos…
Y revivo en el momento / Donde el f uturo es incierto.
Se acercará nuestro final.

You can pretty much figure out the topics from the video. Sueños de Libertad adds another interesting component. Here male vocalist Alfred Romero from the band Dark Moor joins Anna in an interesting duet. Again, the metal pounds and we get a harder tone to the material. Given Anna’s association with multiple bands, these guest performances seem to be a regular inclusion to the release. And this is a good one, again featuring some solid choral work where appropriate. Again, Spanish lyrics.

Probably appropriate to cover at least a couple titles that includes English lyrics, for those of you for whom the Spanish doesn’t convey the truly interesting ideas Anna has developed for this release. iMachine is one and this one adds something additional. Anna is joined by a harsh metal vocal, in this case Robert Haven, keyboard player and singer from the Mexican power metal band WINTER HAVEN. You get some electronics here as well as the male / female vocals. And the topic takes us to lovely dark places:

Hold once again, / Turn on again my cold heart
Mesmerized we stay
There's nothing left and we can't hide… can't find…
(Hide, Find fast a place for you to die! / Try harder, it´s all you need to be alive!)

Following this track, we again get a classical rest, this time entitled Inocencia (Interlude) which, I guess is appropriate. But damn, Anna can sure do some fine classical stuff. This one may just be too short. But, as it comes to an end, we move directly to the choral sound that takes us back to crushing metal. Echoes may provide the absolute top choral work on the release, as well as some of the finest symphonic. Fact, this may be the highlight of the release, everything you could ask for, again with English lyrics:

The echoes from her mind, / Echoes from her past,
Covered her with sorrow, / Giving her the dark.
In her heart she knows / She´s the chosen one
She can end the horrors / Of this world!

To be clear, not all the material is heavy metal. Anna does a fine ballad, Lo que se Va is a lovely example. A light background, primarily keyboard based with some light vocal background, very nice. But this is not the typical trend of the material. Tracks like Renacer and Mas Alla (Beyond or Further Away) provide hard metal, well produced and pounding. They are the rule rather than the exception.

All things considered, an excellent product from a girl who knows her way around the music business. And one that takes advantage of her wide range of contacts in the music business. Always nice to have that to work with. Y, en ultima instancia, tan buena como debe ser. Bien hecho chica.