If I didn’t know that the 1993 album Infierno De Dante (Dante’s Inferno) by Transmetal was produced by the legendary Scott Burns, I probably would never had bothered to listen.
After all, when I hear a name like “Transmetal” an image of a hairband trying to pass itself off as “progressive metal” comes to mind.
Well, Transmetal definitely ain’t hair metal.
Transmetal are instead a brutal Mexican death metal band who toss aside everything that comes with their glammy-sounding name and just pummel the listener with their sonic sledgehammer.
Infierno De Dante is one of two Transmetal albums produced by Burns, the other being 1996’s Mexico Barbaro. Overall, those two albums are less than 10 percent of the material released in the band’s 20-album career, which began in 1987.
The lineup for this album is Alberto Pimentel on vocals and guitars, Juan Partida on lead guitar, javier Partida on drums and Lorenzo Partida on bass. Lorenzo is also credited for the lyrics. The only lineup change since then is that Pimentel has been replaced by current vocalist Sergio Burgos.
There’s also guest musicians which include keyboardist “Super” Brian Benscoter, acoustic guitarist Rick Pupello and, most interestingly of all, Glen Benton of Deicide fame on backing vocals on two tracks.
You don’t need to speak or understand much Spanish to appreciate how freakin’ heavy Transmetal is. They bludgeon the listener right out of the gate with the title track, “El Infierno De Dante.” From there, they pick up the pace with “Vació Abismal” (“Abysmal Emptiness”), which sounds akin to a human meat grinder. Both songs pound the listener like a blunt instrument in the middle of a moonlit desert. There’s also a pretty good guitar solo in “Abysmal Emptiness” that quickly gives way to some drums and bass to cap off the song, leaving the listener a crumpled body on the ground.
Somehow, Transmetal picks up the pace even more with “La Ilamas De La Purificación” (“Flames of Purification”). This song is not too different from what you’d picture Pantera sounding like if they had decided to go the death metal route. There’s actually a bit of a galloping groove through the verses before things give way to some straight-ahead death metal.
“Himno para él” (“Hymn for Him”) has kicks off with some nice melody and steps away from the blast speeds of the guitars for a bit of harmony and drawn out notes. Not that it’s slow, it has its blast beats, but it’s combination of slow and fast creates a pretty memorable song. It’s also got some good death metal soloing, reminiscent of what you’d hear on a Death album.
The short ethereal instrumental”Místicas estrellas del Universo” (“Mystichal Universe Stars”) gives way to “Reencuentro Con Beatríz” ( “Re Encounter with Beatriz”), a mighty fine death metal tune that just begins with a blast which gives way to some of that good old-fashioned death metal groove and grind. It’s probably the most adventurous song on the album, going many different directions that carves the overall whole into your brain.
“Séptico y Veneración” (“Septic Veneration”) and crushing “Fosas Malditas” (“Damned Pits”) are pretty standard death metal tunes. They don’t really stand out compared to the rest of the songs, but they don’t bring the album down either.
“Altura Magneficente” (“Magnificent Height”) is one of those interludes that aren’t essential to an album, particularly a death metal album. But, it sounds nice and the clean vocals offer a nice little breather between the aural assault of Transmetal.
“El Último Día Sombrío” (“Last Day’s Shadow”) ends the album. It’s sort of similar to the short interludes we heard earlier, with ethereal sounding guitar but differs in that Pimental offers growling whispers. It’s actually a pretty cool way to end the album, ending the listener’s experience with what could be called “light at the end of the tunnel.”
While there’s nothing really groundbreaking about Infierno De Dante, I think this album is still worth listening to. It’s not fancy or technical death metal drenched with synthesizers. Instead, it’s a brutal and stripped down pummeling. Any lover of death metal will appreciate it and it’s a damned good album.
Like I said, Spanish is not required to enjoy Infierno De Dante. The music speaks for itself and that’s what you want from death metal.