Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Monday, November 28, 2022

Review: Red Elm – Arena

Label: Blood Fire Death

Date: October 7th, 2022

Hailing from Barcelona, Red Elm was formed back in 2010. The first single “Unikorn” was released in 2015, and their debut album “ZERØ” in 2017. On previous releases, Red Elm were balancing between Spanish and English lyrics, but Raul “Bu Bu” Morón (Vocals) and Danu Valcárcel (guitars, backing vocals) made a decision to continue writing lyrics only in Spanish language.

“Arena” is the second album of two piece progressive heavy metal band and it contains eight songs packed in around 38 minutes. The first impression is that this is not just progressive heavy metal. The album has so many layers: heavy metal, groove, stoner, progressive, rock, alternative rock…

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I was not a fan of the Spanish telenovela very popular here in Serbia, so my Spanish language skills are really poor. But, Spanish language evolved from colloquial Latin that I have been learning ages ago in high school, so at least from the song titles I can figure out what is the essence of the band’s inspiration. Raul “Bu Bu” Morón says:

“Sincere, dark, romantic, and universal at the same time”.

As I wrote, till the “Arena”, Red Elm was making bilingual albums. Now, when they decide to focus on their mother language, it is difficult for a reviewer who does not speak the language to go into every pore of an album. So, lyrical content remains unknown to me or just on the guessing level based on song titles. All I can do is to trust Raul’s words.

Red Elm is criticizing not humanity, but a single human being and its actions or reactions within a group. The focus is on the effect that one wrong step of every individual has. Lyrical content might be philosophical or psychological but however, it has a strong message. As I understood, the main message is never give up, do not sit and be just an observer, stand up and try to change something. Song titles discover a bit the main idea that is hiding behind the lyrics (new opportunities, challenge,

Musically, the band drives from modern hard rock, playing on the edge of heavy metal, with a pinch of grunge to progressive. The music has so many layers, and its depth is even recognized and well represented through cover art. A mystic figure that in my opinion represents death holds in its hands an hourglass framed with filigree elements. Sand that falls with the key inside shows the complexity of an album. Obviously the passage of time is the main motif. Behind the art cover stands Ione Navarro, artist, or better to say tattoo artist from Barcelona.

Once again, I apologize for not understanding the lyrics, I do not criticize the idea, but if at least I would have lyrics in front of me, I would find the way to translate it and write longer review.

As the album is DIY recorded and produced, I can say this is a very high quality album.

And I cannot resist saying that at some parts, well, most of it, Red Elm reminds me a lot of Slovenian band Siddharta.