|La Puerta Número Dos
|Twelve Doors And A Key
|Crypt Of Fear
In a foggy day like today a trip to the sunny Spain wouldn't be so bad; being unable to take it for real I shall content myself with a virtual tour, with La Puerta Número Dos as a pleasant background. The band formed in 2003, recorded two albums ("Sol Magenta" in 2005 and "El Bosque" in 2008) then took a break for a few years, before going back for more with the third "Twelve Doors And A Key", which also marks the passage of the band, reformed and harbinger of a new sound, to English lyrics.
The Salamancan quartet define itself as heavily influenced by Alice In Chains, Tool, Kyuss, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, so their music is Hard Rock with shades of Stoner and Grunge. "Twelve Doors And A Key" is rich of occult symbolism, so much that the album is made of thirteen tracks (twelve with a bonus track, literally twelve doors and a key) accompanied by twelve major arcana on the graphically rich booklet, one for each song and each one is located in a specific point of the alchemic cirlce, by the artist Sandra Callejas. The opener "There Will Be Revenge" is connected to the tarot card of Judgement, represented by a pile of skulls on which stands a winged skeleton on horseback holding an horn that — supposedly — will help gather the souls around him. On the top we can see six military aircraft in flight. «The Red Rider comes!». Musically speaking we are in the catchy and rhythmic stoner field; lyrics are against war, against bombing schools and hospitals, destruction of the cities that become gradually places of Death worship, which temples are made of skulls and bones.
"Bright Red Light" opens with a dynamic bass riff and drums in a marching beat, the intense red light is of the Sun, shining over a ziqqurat inscribed in an alchemical circle. The third card is The Hermit, a wise figure who, in stories and tales, often was asked by the hero for advice in order to solve problems and challenges. The Hermit of "Blizzard Is Fine", however, has harsh words for his guest, warning him even to go back to where he came. We can feel that Nineties atmosphere typical of the already mentioned bands, while the other cards are shown. "Astray" references the Moon, around which a man and a wolf are going in circle. We learn from the lyrics the wolf protagonist even holds a human nature in a constant conflict with the animal one, situation that led him to drift and loneliness. Again, if the themes are melancholic and definitely not so much happy, we can't say the same for the musical section, where distorted melodies are soar but positive energy imbued. The Fool of card five, instead, is everything but happy: sitting, folded onto himself, a suffering expression on his face, crushed by the weight of a cube above and that probably represents the "New World Order" of the title, an intelligent disorder which reached and exceeded a new limit of madness: a world were social conventions are completely upside down.
"The Prison Across The River" also opens with the bass and settles at a slower pace and riffs at a contained volume, except for the chorus, making the voice the song's main attraction. The prison of which we speak is represented by The Tower, whose guest is wrapped with chains of which, suprisingly, holds the key in his hands. To detain him is the result of his beliefs and habits, the prison is made of walls he built and from which he doesn't want to come out, preferring to stay into his comfort zone. Even the ropes gathered around the wrists and the neck of The Hanged Man in "The Resilient" are mainly ideological, represented by the pain and by the constant attempt to rebel against it; it is an even more macabre image the one that gets in front of us, instead, of "Never Alone": The Lovers, hand-holding while different blades pierce their bodies, standing on a pile of snakes. Here emerges the Grunge vein of the band, while the singer Andros tells us of a woman who never learned to stay alone. In "Montauk" the Scarlet King makes his appearence, with The Devil as his corresponding card: red, fat, with horns and chains sticking out of his body. His seven wives will be mothers of various catastrophes, including the Death of Time.
With the tenth track "Welcome To South Peaks" we enter in Hard Rock-Grunge territories, where the main card is The Justice, ideological head of a revolt against them, the Powers, and their corruption. A fast Stoner, even in the vocals and rich of effects portray "Bang Bang", that is joined by The Death card, from which running away is useless once you become the target. The last track is "Ouroboros", the serpent eating its own tail, representing the eternity and the endless, and that we see wrapped around the world in the Arcana drawn by Callejas. Fate is cyclical, at the game of life sooner or later you end up loosing, but that's not an excuse for us human beings to stay in our limits and give up finding ourselves. The bonus track number thirteen, "A Key", is made by part of the Howard Beale monologue in "Network": «I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!». At this point every card is on the table.
"Twelve Doors And A Key" is an album that has a lot to say and does it taking inspiration from bands of a certain level, meanwhile trying to create its own sound complete with a rich and well illustrated booklet. Probably the band, from a musical point of view, doesn't do anything exceptionally new, but definitely does it as it should be done in their own way, succeeding in the intent of creating a pleasant sound the lovers of the genre will appreciate and that will encircle them in a world of mystery, alchemy, esoterism and occult symbols. In fact, La Puerta Número Dos have really ambitious projects for the cards and characters they choose to represent in the booklet: inside the disc there's a QR code, once read with the mobile app, provides access to a virtual gallery in constant expansion; the ultimate goal is to allow anyone with the physical copy of the album to take part in the treasure hunt and find one of the twelve keys scattered around Europe. I mean, surely I will tempt my fate!