GABRIEL AGUDO – Tales & Thunders (Album Review)

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Singer and multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Agudo releases his second solo album, the enigmatically titled “Tales & Thunders”. After his expansive and uplifting debut “New Life” a few years back, this new outing takes a much darker turn. From painful breakups to reflections on the pandemic to vampires, these tales rumble deeply into the darker depths of the soul. Taken as a whole, including the corresponding album design, this new recording feels like the shadow side of “New Life”

Unlike Agudo’s previous album which had one primary co-writer and musician collaborator at the helm alongside him, as well as many guests, “Tales & Thunders” is largely a true solo album. Aside from a few cameo appearances, Agudo covers all of the instruments and vocals himself. It’s an ambitious creative leap to make, especially given the wide range of musical avenues explored, so a nod of respect is in order. 

“Voyager” is a convincing opener and perhaps the most rewarding song on the album. Well-paced and executed, Agudo’s searing vocals dance over the tribal rhythm and distorted guitar power chords. “I wanna be the shadow light, I wanna be the riddle of the Hierophant.” An extremely satisfying track that gets us off on the right foot. “Nosferatu” approaches the same sonic territory, Agudo’s rumbling bass, aggressive drumming, and crunching guitars setting the tone for its shadowy protagonist, complete with a fitting solo from Derek Sherinian on keys. “I’ll be waiting before the dawn” he repeats endlessly under a sky of eerie keyboard patches and pounding rhythms as the piece closes. The approach is markedly different from the “Nosferatu” on Cyan’s new album (which also just released, hence the mention), but perhaps this version benefits more from its direct approach. 

“Tales & Thunders” Album Artwork

“The Way of Shaman”, dedicated to the Sioux Lakota Nation, provides a brief spiritual injection to the proceedings. Gabriel performed several songs from this album live on Cruise to the Edge with a stellar band last year, and this was one of the highlights of that concert. Along with admiration of the Sioux’s culture runs a darker sadness, conveyed in the closing lines, “With the force of a bear that fights against the nightmare that breathes inside you, That bleeds inside you …That breathes inside you … Then you’ve got what you’ve got. I’ve seen your eyes, I’ve seen the fire, I’ve seen the trap.” 

Gabriel calls in a smoky nightclub vibe, complete with trumpet, on the swinging “Endless Night”, kind of an unexpected Portishead moment that genuinely works. He gets even more experimental on the instrumental “Dark Father” but it’s on the extended jam of “Even to the Edge of Doom” that vocals are met by the transcendent guitar of Steve Rothery, the album’s most distinguished guest. Who can argue with that kind of closure to the album? 

While there’s respect for the DIY approach of creating a solo album where nearly everything is done by one man, there’s no denying that these tales would sound even more thunderous with an outside producer at the mixing board. The song “A Last Chance” is a good example: its acoustic guitar and synths have the makings for a powerful ballad concerning the pandemic, but the song is distracted by strange production choices halfway through. Agudo has the goods but for that very reason, it would ultimately be rewarding to hear them delivered in the best possible sonic setting. His vision is wide and deep, there’s much yet to be said from this artist. 

Released By: Independent
Release Date: September 13th, 2023
Genre:  Neo-Progressive Rock

Tales & Thunders track-listing:

1. Voyager
2. A Last Chance
3. Nosferatu
4. The Way of Shaman
5. Endless Night
6. Dark Father
7. Area 51
8. Even to the Edge of Doom

Musicians:

  • Gabriel Agudo / vocals, all instruments, except:
    • Dave Foster / Guitar solo (1)
    • Derek Sherinian / Keyboard solo (3)
    • Steve Rothery / Guitars (8)

Order Tales & Thunders HERE.

7.8 Very Good

The second album from Gabriel Agudo takes a darker turn as he sets his sights on more treacherous, thunderous tales. Although primarily known as a lead vocalist, Agudo takes on the bulk of instrumentation and production here, making for a true solo album

  • Songwriting 7.5
  • Musicianship 7.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 7.5
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