Salamandra - Salamandra - 2000


From the north of Spain and from the beautiful city called Santander arrives a new and pleasant band based, of course, on the progressive philosophies. A record impregnated of that so peculiar form of understanding the music, so ventured as nearby, as romantic as sweetness. It's always a pleasing surprise, the birth of a group in Spain. Lately the only part of the country which is more active about creating bands that can give us some good stuff is the Mediterranean coast . The Catalan coast that in these last months/years seems to be recapturing the old "Laietano" spirit (the Catalan progressive movement of the seventies). This young band called Salamandra is a group formed by a brilliant and at the same time daring musicians. A band that take all the risks without fear shaping their own influences with a surprising capacity to create that so especial progressive structure. The group is formed by Raúl Leon (voice, backing vocals, guitars), Carlos Rodríguez (keyboards, backing vocals, voice), Jose TO.Fdz. Cires "Jacky" (guitars, backing vocals), Jesús Rodríguez "Chus" (guitars), Pablo Bald (bass), Javier Bayon "Javito" (drums, percussion).


What we can perceive in their songs is a good mixture of diverse and unmistakable influences, songs of a certain vocal and lyrical simplicity very well wrapped in ambiance, lines and progressive developments. A band strongly influenced by the classics of the eighties such as Marillion, Pendragon (of the beginning of the decade) small doses of Steve Howe, Hacket, Gilmour and including Andy Latimer. Rick Wakeman at the keyboards and a significant print that makes them brilliant in some of the passages of this record, that is the print of Kansas. The introduction of the violin, the orchestral arrangements and the combination of these, in some parts of this work, gives them a touch so much of distinction as of great quality. A work that is sung in Spanish, something that is not frequent, since the great majority of the bands try to adapt the English to their compositions, resulting forced and not very natural in many cases. Certainly, the voices are one of the best elements of this CD. A record that contains 11 pieces that do not exceed the 7 minutes and that perhaps makes it not a bore at all. The participation of additional musicians that support the band in different moments and songs makes the group not to fall into repetition. "Otra oportunidad" (6:50) shows us the temperate idea in which the music of this band rests. Introduction of keyboards of intense and changing rhythm that they lead to a long and rich combination of elements very well worked. "Nadie entenderá" (5:45) follows the same line of the previous one with higher and faster rhythm.

Compositions where the voice is a main character and shares perfectly the space with a lot of middle sections, created to light up the different developments of a guitar, that shows many faces as well as and the keys. "Te acordaras" (6:35) is a nice ballad with some perfect chorus and a middle section dominated by the violin and keyboards. This song is based on the large and intense Kansas formula. From here, we can find pieces as "Jugando a improvisar" (7:37). One of the best pieces of the album, with a strong and blowing guitar and intrepid keyboards that remind the Mark Kelly's playing in the eighties. "Hubo un tiempo" (1:22) it's made of a good chorus of voices and nothing else. Tuning a sweet melody that allows you to disconnect with the previously listened stuff. Let me insist on the vocal work which is something specially appreciated in this record. Just like the magnificent Kansas, the vocal parts do not fit much in a, let's say progressive environment. It's a pop-rock tune more than a prog. Voices that could be used maybe better on any song or AOR album or even on a hard-rock record . In Salamandra occurs something similar, something that approaches them a little bit more to the American masters. "Tierra de libertad" (5:26) is a combination of powerful guitar with pleasant melodies and this time with a Camelish aroma. "Doble filo" (5:11) follows previous one giving still more emphasis to the quick and blowing guitar. In the next piece I would like to congratulate Jose A. "Jacky" by its great skill shown during the work and ratified in "Un paso atrás" (6:25). This time is the guitar of David Gilmour adorning the piece with some perfect tapping. A song that reminds "Wish you were here". "Hoy" (4:38) is perhaps the most aggressive song and very closed to the Spanish hard rock. "Tras el umbral" (5:30) again leads to a rested piece of nice chorus and acoustic guitar. The album ends with "Algo que fume" (5:21). Hard-rock with keyboards, very spectacular sounding just like a the Deep Purple composition.


A surprise. It is not very current that such brilliant musicians dedicate their efforts to create progressive rock. Salamandra has put all its effort to do something worth to be listened, a work where they have emptied all its influences, mixing them, giving light and shaping to something good. The only negative point is the production. The rhythmic section which is something that has to be well stuck into progressive songs, is not quite captured by the production. But anyway, is a record that I would like to recommend you. And don't doubt to contact with them at

author - date - rating - label

Jordi Costa - February 2001 -   - Whisper Prod.