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El Reloj - El Reloj CD (album) cover

EL RELOJ

El Reloj

 

Eclectic Prog

3.59 | 27 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
4 stars EL RELOJ (The Clock) was formed in Buenos Aires in 1971 by guitarist Willy Gardi and bassist Eduardo Frezza and they started out under the name "Lįgrimas (tears)." After a few lineup changes the band finally recruited drummer Juan Esposito, guitarist Osvaldo Zabala and keyboardist Luis Alberto Valenti to record their debut eponymous album that came out in 1975. EL RELOJ was one of the earliest bands to pioneer heavy rock in Argentina. Clearly being heavily influenced by Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and other English bands of the day, it is apparent from their sound that they were listening to a lot of Italian prog bands as well. There are clear influences from the heavier sides of PFM, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and Osanna amongst others.

Not at all surprising as Buenos Aires hosts one of the largest European and Italian populations in all of South America. The result of this mix is a highly energetic hard rockin' groovy sound that incorporates heavy riffs, scorching dual guitar leads, a beefy bass and a drummer on fire and on the prog side of things we get some well-crafted complex song structures, first-rate crazy time sigs, quality Hammond organ runs, tribal beats and rockin' rhythms that can change at the drop of a hat without affecting the overall flow of the music. The tracks have a highly developed sense of melody, harmony and counterpoint all sprinkled with progressiveness and a healthy sense of bombast.

"Obertura" starts off this album with spooky piano sounds that could easily scare away any unwanted solicitors from your front door which then is accompanied by some boiling water and muffled screams. Wow. Did we enter the haunted house at Disneyland? The second part of the track is "El Viejo Serafin (The Old Seraph)" which breaks in abruptly after two minutes and ushers in a heavy guitar riff that disappears as soon as it appears and then it's the bassline's turn. The tradeoffs are delivered in proggy time sigs and then finally around three minutes we get some passionate vocals all sung in Spanish, of course. The final minute is dedicated to a nice bassline trading off with the guitar. This opening track pretty much sets the stage for the heavy eclectic prog to come.

The tracks that follow follow the same formula with emphasis on different aspects of heaviness, progginess and instruments until we get to "Blues Del Atardecer (Blues Of The Evening)" which is one of the slower tracks that manages to fill the role as a ballad on the album without sacrificing energetic outbursts like guitar riffs, drum solos and drenched organ and maintains a highly addictive melody. The final track "Haciendo Blues Y Jazz (Making Blues And Jazz) is an excellent heavy bluesy jazz rocker that utilizes an energetic walking bass run, bluesy guitar acrobatics and atmospheric keyboards with rock star vocals to add the perfect icing on the cake.

While i wouldn't call EL RELOJ the most original of bands as they incorporate so many ideas and sounds that had already been done, i would call them absolutely brilliant in how they piece it all together in their delivery in a way that hadn't been done this well. The song structures are amazingly complex while losing absolutely none of the catchiness associated with the top dogs of the heavy rock world. EL RELOJ delivers the hard hitting energy of a heavy metal band, the sensuality that Latin American musicians are famous for and the complexity that will please every prog lover as well. Every musician sounds perfect for the role and EL RELOJ has emerged as my favorite band from Argentina. While i absolutely love this debut album, it is the second one that will really blow you away for as good as this one is, they were only getting started! Highly recommended. These guys really need to be jettisoned from the vaults of obscurity.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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