Review – Gabriel – Sacrifice – by Progradar


I love revisiting an artist when they are releasing a new album. It is always great to see how they have progressed and if their sound has changed. I reviewed ‘Unforgiven’ by Gabriel last year and this was my conclusion:

“A classy blend of hard rock, metal and symphonic rock with its own core identity, Gabriel a massive sound for just two people. Pigeon-hole them if you dare, there is more going on with this musical collaboration than you could fit into any one box. Sally Elsey’s vocals are worth the entry fee alone but, with the excellent musical talent of Albert Vinasco at her side, you have something a little bit different and special.”

Gabriel is a collaboration between singer/songwriter Sally Elsey from London and guitarist and recording engineer Albert Vinasco from Buenos Aires. Together, Sally and Albert combine their highly melodic approaches to create music that is both sweet and powerful. Sally primarily composes her music around piano-based progressions and lyrics. The result is a soft, warm and melodic sound that is full of dimension and emotion.

Albert Vinasco: lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, synthesizers, samplers, drums and drum programming, arrangements, engineering and final production. Albert is a guitarist and recording engineer whose compositions are inspired by the portrayal of emotional content through modern rock and metal guitar, Vinasco has composed a wide variety of music ranging from intense metal to soft classical.

Together, Sally and Albert combine their highly melodic approaches to create music that is both sweet and powerful. The result is Gabriel. All music is written, recorded and produced by Gabriel (Sally Elsey and Albert Vinasco).

I was approached by Sally earlier this year to give my impressions on their new release ‘Sacrifice’.


The new album sees this talented duo mature and offer a hell of a lot more than what a stereotypical so-called ‘female fronted metal band’ would. You wouldn’t think this so much from the first two or three tracks. Running has the powerful riffing and energetic percussion that typified the previous album. Add in Sally’s distinctive vocals and you have what I would have previously called the definitive Gabriel sound, powerful but with a silken core, Albert’s guitar flwoing freely and giving the music its direction. Falling Down has the symphonic vocal opening again heard often on the last release. There is a dynamism beginning to make an appearance though, something less in evidence on ‘Unforgiven’. Sally’s voice has that gossamer feel that comes from an almost operatic delivery and then the music powers in and gives an edgy aura, almost Karnataka-esque. Both these songs are great tracks and carry on the Gabriel legacy, a sound that invites you in on the promise of more to come. There’s almost something spooky about the intro to Holy water, Fire and Ice before it bursts out in the a pastiche of overblown 70’s blues rock, a very enjoyable pastiche though. The riffing is hard-edge and tight and the drums have all the energy of a runaway locomotive. Sally’s vocals take on a more aggressive and energetic style and the whole track really rocks. A funky, blues tinged hard rocking solo keeps things flying along in a perfectly enjoyable manner and all seems to be in order.

Things take an interesting turn with the wistful opening to Rebecca, a song with an almost Celtic feel to it. The delicate piano note matches Sally’s ethereal vocals perfectly before this track opens up and blossoms into something more solid and visceral. Things ebb and flow with seeming intelligence all of their own, a keyboard that could have come straight from the 70’s adds a wicked aura and the flamenco style guitar picking gives another layer of sophistication. To me, this is where these two impressive musicians take things to another level and really improve their sound adding additional maturity. This carries on with the intensity of Broken, an intelligent song that really raises the heart rate with its heightened intro. Slow and brooding with a dark heart, I really liked the way it seems to creep into your psyche and take over. There’s something I can’t quite grasp going on, something clandestine that is enhanced by the short and calculating guitar solo. A song that really moves the game on for Gabriel. That feeling of unease, of being observed from afar carries on into The Watcher, another deliciously sombre and shadowy song that demands your attention. There are subtle nuances and ruminations at play hear, an heightened intellect that is always just out of reach. The music just seems to roll over you and subjugate you with its dark intentions. The music has moved up several notches in my opinion.


I love the wistful beauty at the heart of Suddenly, a track that grabs at your heartstrings with its melancholy feeling. Sally’s voice has real touch of sadness and sorrow to it in places, it matches the sparse elegance of the music perfectly. The chorus lifts the gloom and sees shafts of sunlight appear fleetingly. This is a song that really plays on your emotions, the lows of the pensive verse in complete contrast to the highs of the appealing chorus. Now to perhaps my favourite track on the album, The Reveal opens in that symphonic style, a winsome and nostalgic feeling pervades everything, gentle piano and soulful vocals blending perfectly to engender a feelgood atmosphere and sanctuary before the guitar kicks in with a smooth riff that just takes me back to some of the great rocks riffs of the 80’s, think Clannad meets Whitesnake (pre-1987)and you won’t be far wrong. A real melting pot of influences and sounds that Gabriel blend together perfectly and a song that shows they have moved their game on considerably. Beyond The Highlands is another track showcasing the new direction that the band seem to be going in, not sticking to any one stricture but successfully opening up their palette of sounds to a number of new influences. It builds up wonderfully to give us something akin to a Mike Oldfield vocal track but with more density and substance. The light and airy guitars are a delight and Sally gives one of her best performances on the album, subduing the symphonic/operatic style for a more rock and folk friendly delivery. It is at this point that I actually went back to listen to ‘Unforgiven’ and it showed me how far that Gabriel had come, the increased sophistication and variety that their music has now.

True Believer is a proper ‘rock’ track in the true sense of the word, powerful and insistent riffing matched by the tireless percussion and the spirited vocals. A proper foot-tapping or even head-banging song that drives on relentlessly, you know exactly what is coming next and Albert doesn’t disappoint with his stellar guitar solo. A really enjoyable ‘balls-out’ rocker that put a big grin on my face. An aggressive riff opens title track Sacrifice and we have an intriguing song in front of us. A bit of low down mystery is added by the subdued music and vocals that follow but that in your face riff returns on the chorus with added attitude and belligerence. I can’t help but be put in mind of that great American band Heart and their break through hit ‘Barracuda‘ with the raw hostility at the core of this song, especially the coruscating and edgy solo, vintage stuff indeed! Benedictus closes out the album in a Latin choral style with the haunting chanting delivered perfectly by Sally at the start of the song delivering a sublimely ethereal and ghostly aura before Albert lets fly with a blistering guitar solo that smoulders with a searing energy. The beautiful vocals return and the guitar plays a vistuoso lament over the top before the song and the album come to a close with the graceful piano and Sally’s tender vocals.

‘Sacrifice’ is an excellent album and one that sees Sally and Albert seriously move their game on from the great ‘Unforgiven’. This release sees Gabriel mature into an exciting band that still hold onto their core values but one that is now happy to explore different musical avenues and incorporate them very successfully into their future direction.

Released July 8th 2016

Buy ‘Sacrifice’ from bandcamp




Review resurrected – Gabriel – Unforgiven


I have come to the conclusion that pigeon-holing bands into certain categories or genres can often be more detrimental than advantageous to their continued popularity and success.

Where, in some circumstances, it will mean that the music will appeal to smaller cross section of the music loving public, in others it can lead to a mass exodus (Prog seems to be attaining this level of notoriety at the moment, for whatever reason).

Unfortunately, music lovers and journalists as a whole (and I include myself in this too) seem unable to talk or write about bands without shoehorning them into a particular classification. This is okay if that actual artist portrays themselves as being unashamedly of that ilk, however, in most cases, we need to broaden our brush strokes.

Gabriel is a collaboration between singer/songwriter Sally Elsey from London and guitarist and recording engineer Albert Vinasco from Buenos Aires. Together, Sally and Albert combine their highly melodic approaches to create music that is both sweet and powerful.

I have often heard them called a ‘Female-fronted Metal’ band but this is to shower them with faint praise, their music contains a lot more influences and nuances. ‘Unforgiven’ is the fifth album from the duo and has rock, progressive and metal hints all over it, time to immerse myself further….

First, and title, track Unforgiven has a Celtic, Latin feel tot he introduction with a bit of Gregorian chant thrown in. Symphonic in feel with the string sound and our first meeting with Sally’s mercurial vocal talents. Her voice has an operatic undertone to it, add this to the ominous sounding rhythm section and scurrilous guitar solo and you feel that you are in a melodramatic soundscape, quite intriguing. Within the Circle takes on a Gothic-metals style that has hints of Within Temptation allied to the powerful and expressive voice that Sally Elsey owns. Delving deeper into the track, you feel a depth of quality to the music and Albert gets to rock out on the guitar with this one with a spirited riff and high-tempo percussion. Haunting and melodic but with a heavier feel to it, it is really addictive and catchy.

A crack of thunder followed by a proper heavy metal riff and married with a thunderous drumbeat sees Two Worlds Collide hove into view. This song puts a smile on my face as you get a proper beast of a rhythm section combined with Sally’s decorous, if slightly menacing, vocal. The guitar runs and solo are quite grin inducing too, just a real good rock-out track with a late 70’s metal vibe to it. Here in You begins with a delicate string and piano combo before the breathless and precise vocal adds a sheen of panache to proceedings. This patina of calm doesn’t last for long before Sally takes on a sort of mischievous Kate Bush persona and Albert moves into full-on rock hero mode. The coruscating guitars and hectic rhythm delivers a high energy ride that leaves your head spinning at times before the track returns to its chilled out roots and comes to a gentle close.

With an intro that smacks of mid 70’s classic rock and Americana, Do You Believe has a further sense of depth to it. Sally Elsey delivers her cultured, almost operatic vocal and the crunching guitar interjects at certain points to give a theatrical feel to the song. With toes fleetingly dipped into 80’s metal and modern symphonic power-metal, it is an interesting melting pot of styles that keeps you guessing. The coruscating guitar solo has me damning my lack of luscious locks and reminiscing about denim. Taking the soothing qualities of all that’s best of Karnataka and adding their own spin on it, Shelter From the Rain is a classically tinged pop-rock song with strong folk and Celtic ties. Superb vocals and more dynamic and expressive guitar work leave you with a particularly polished taste in your mouth, this track appeals to all musical palates.

Now to the ‘prog-epic’ on the album, well not necessarily progressive but it surely takes it cues from that genre. Time Train is twelve minutes of intriguing music that beguiles and fascinates. The 80’s synth-pop style introduction with Sally’s incessant repeat of the title gives way to a piano and vocal that drips sincerity and bonhomie. Like musical building blocks, the track heightens the tension as it continues, the complexity swelling and the music taking hold of your senses. The guitar, drums and programming are compelling and deliver an intricate musical mosaic as a backdrop to the vocals and keyboards that are narrating the story. The guitar work smolders and simmers, low key yet dominant and potent, it delivers a sombre and pensive feel to this eloquent and passionate song, one that lingers long in your memory. House of Shadows takes Gabriel down a more mainstream route with its slight nod to pop/rock sensibilities. The gentle and ethereal keyboards match the charming vocals perfectly and the whole song has a feeling of goodwill to it even venturing into Mike Oldfield territory with the distinctive guitar sound. A track that leaves you in a calm and contented state of mind.

Soul Taker begins all mercurial and mysterious with haunting vocals and a lilting piano before breaking into another rock/metal power track. Heavily symphonic with a hard hitting riff and pugnacious drumming, it has to be doing my poor relation’s version of a headbanger again. Sally’s vocal has an edge to it, imbibing the song with a carefree attitude that is pure rock n’ roll. That feel runs through into Stone Cold Redeemer which immediately puts me in mind of Heart and ‘Barracuda’, a really deep and dangerous 1980’s guitar riff married to Sally’s singular vocals. Simple with a clean delivery, it makes no bones about what it is, another pure hard rock delight. The slightly off-kilter guitar solo is a breezy delight that grabs your attention and really hits home on this enjoyable romp.

The final track on the album, Meant to Be, finishes things off in a symphonic metal style. Like a lament, it has an almost mournful feel to it, the vocals subtle yet effective. The guitar solo is full of feeling and pathos and has a heavy hue of 80’s British heavy metal deep at its core. Another fine slab of hard rock with a strong whiff of symphonic metal served up for your delectation.

A classy blend of hard rock, metal and symphonic rock with its own core identity, Gabriel a massive sound for just two people. Pigeon-hole them if you dare, there is more going on with this musical collaboration than you could fit into any one box. Sally Elsey’s vocals are worth the entry fee alone but, with the excellent musical talent of Alex Vinasco at her side, you have something a little bit different and special.

Released 2nd July 2014

Buy Unforgiven from Ravenheart music