Even though Dominación is Super Raton’s first-ever full-length release, the band’s story goes all the way back to 1982, when heavy metal in Argentina (and all the South American continent) was still in diapers. It might have taken this band 38 years to finally release an album (they disbanded in 1985 before reforming in 2014 though), their music certainly stayed in that era.
This album packs a punch of melodic, classic, boomer heavy metal, very reminiscent of the NWOBHM bands – mid-tempo songs, simple hard rock-ish riffs, lots of palm-muting, heavy use of lead guitar, whammy bars, melodic and catchy choruses. It has everything an average metal band had back then. Super Raton tries to bring traditional heavy metal, a genre that has been replaced by extreme and alternative genres such as groove or death metal in the country, back from the grave.
“So far, this album looks promising,” you might have said at this point, but actually, it’s rather mediocre. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a bad album. It’s more on the “good” side of “mediocre.” But it fails to bring anything new to the table or actually differentiate themselves from other similar bands that have been joining this “New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal” movement these last few years, or in other words; there’s a lack of originality and ideas.
Now, the only thing that this LP has, that most other bands don’t, are a female vocalist and the constant presence of keyboards, though. While Rocío Faber, the band’s vocalist, is not bad at her role, she doesn’t have a vocal range that would allow her to hit those orgasmic high notes that singers like Bruce Dickinson are known for, and she clearly fails to deliver a good singing style. She rarely goes to the top of her lungs, doesn’t do any raspy or harsh vocals, and never goes to the higher ends (or lower ends, in case she’s a contralto) of her vocal range. All of this would make a little more sense if she’s a mezzo-soprano, as she can’t go too high or too low therefore being trapped in the worst and most uninteresting of all ranges (just like me, sadly). But this doesn’t fully justify the lack of interest in her work with this release. The vocals feel more like a filler than any other thing, like if they were there just for the sake of it, and it certainly ruins a good part of Dominación.
The lame, boring vocals are not the only thing that’s wrong with this release, but the sound quality leaves much to be desired. While it certainly doesn’t sound like your average Bandcamp release recorded in a bedroom with an out of tune guitar, it doesn’t sound very professional either. The person to blame, in this case, is the Super Raton’s guitarist, Gustavo Noto, as he was the one to record, mix and master this album. The biggest issue I have with Dominación is how badly everything is mixed. The guitars are buried by the vocals and pretty much everything else, at times, the vocals just kind of fade into the background, and you can’t actually hear them very well, and there’s a lack of audible bass in the mix. The keyboard is always present in the recording, and it constantly switches from being buried in the background to being clearly audible over other instruments. To be honest, this is almost obnoxious; there’s nothing interesting about the keyboards already, and the fact that they can never find a good place in the mix just ruins everything. From a technical point of view, this album is a huge mess; it’s not as bad as some other things I’ve heard in the past and that I’ll hear in the future, but it’s certainly far from good.
Long have we waited to see this come to life, and in that time, much changed. Metal is not the same as it was back when this band existed in the first place, but this band wasn’t affected by it. It’s a nice thing in some sense, as they didn’t change their sound to appeal to the mainstream and modern public like some bands did (*cough* Metallica *cough*). For Super Raton’s guitarist and soul, Gustavo Noto, the 80s are still pretty much alive, and I must admire the fact that he revived this band so much time after its era and released this album. So the day this band is finally put to rest, at least it’ll leave this world with something to be remembered by. Dominación isn’t great, it’s definitely not a masterpiece, it’s barely above mediocre, but it’s an actual effort to make an album, a concept badly executed, a work of passion released 38 years later, and all of this is admirable.