ANGRA – Aqua (2010)

Reviewed by: Schuyler L.

Assigned by: Victor Guimarães

It’s November the 9th, 11:48 AM, and I’m listening to sounds of “Aqua” by the band Angra. It’s raining, I have a lurking feeling of nausea that won’t go, and this sincerely feels like the worst day possible to be living in the free country of U.S.A.

According to Wikipedia, Angra plays a mix of power and progressive metal and are from Brazil, so hats off (to Roy Harper), ‘cause they must have really cornered the market in that area. This is ostensibly a concept album, but fucked if I know what’s going on here.

The music is loud, with barely any correlation between various sections whatsoever, and not the kind of thing I would listen to on any given day. Basically, we have this formula: brief sound collage-ism -> loud ‘n’ fast -> piano ballad motif -> more loud ‘n’ fast -> some namby-pamby constipated on the toilet -> acoustic guitar -> even more loud ‘n’ fast -> choral motifs -> WAIT, A FUCKING SITAR FOR A SECOND????

So it’s pretty much self-evident that, despite a few nice parts (the instrumental bits where they don’t focus so much on loud ‘n’ fast), this is not a good work in my view – and this has nothing to do with my foul mood at the present moment in time, I assure you!

Yes, despite some indubitably excellent drumming, bass-playing, and guitar noodles, I am very sorry to say that this recording sounds like dog shit. The cymbals are always floating away into the ether, the toms and snares sound incredibly brickwalled, the singer’s voice is placed obnoxiously at the forefront of the mix…

In fact, there’s such an alarming lack of studio ambiance I’m tempted to believe it was recorded in the singer’s asshole.

Still, there is an inspiring quote to be found in “Rage of the Waters”, the fifth track, which sort of stuck out a bit more than any of the other lyrics did, to my highly distracted and suggestible mind:

“So long, it took me to learn

Surging waves can take all your hope
But when the torment ends, comes the calm
There’s no reason to despair, no!”

Well, that really just popped my cherry. And now we’ve got a president who does that without people’s permission, ha-ha! I’m actually looking forward to it, four or more years of people screaming their heads off and getting all naked and free and united and kissing and loving and enjoying each other and LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS AND ASS AND LIPS

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A YEAR IN MUSIC: ANGRA – Secret Garden (2014)

A YEAR IN MUSIC: 2014
Review by: Victor Guimarães

OK, I reckon that if you’re not a metal enthusiast, it’s unlikely you know Angra. But let me give you a short intro to this Brazilian metal band. With a name inspired in the Goddess of Fire of Tupiniquim indigenous people, Angra is a power metal band, with traces of progressive rock and heavy metal, in a NWOBHM way. Like fellow brazilian death/thrash metal giant Sepultura, Angra constantly brings new, different sounds into their music, augmenting their musical depth as well as not limiting themselves from most rock and metal clichés. Inspiration for Angra’s music varies, ranging from classical music, strongly present in albums, such as Angels Cry and Rebirth, to sounds from traditional and popular Brazilian genres, as one can see in Holy Land and Temple of Shadows. Angra always seemed to follow a very parnassian style of making music, so expect strong technical performances in every instrument and vocals. So, acquaintances made? Alright?

Secret Garden is their seventh studio album, the first to feature vocalist Fabio Lione, who is originally from Italian power metal band, Rhapsody of Fire. This album was criticized by part of the fanbase, as it sounded quite differently from what Angra used to sound. Personally, I didn’t find it any worse than their previous works, only different in its essence. And what’s the issue? The normally strong but melodic metal, with heavy songs and some ballads here and there was turned into something a bit more experimental. Yes, Angra went on and experimented, resulting in a somewhat different sound, although not far from its roots. OK, it’s not like they were as bold, as alternative or even experimented as much as 70s art-rockers – Secret Garden is not the prince of metal innovation, but it’s a clear big push on traditional power metal boundaries. Apart from some classical-Angra songs full of speedy power metal, strong melodies, passages and riffs, expect a lot more of progressive traits, such as tempo-changing, and complex instrumentation and also other characteristics, such as some crescendos, ballads, use of percussion and classical themes. Another great feature were the mood changes from previious albums and take note of the amazing guest singing of Simone Simons (from Epica) and Doro Pesch (Warlock, solo).

Finally (and not wanting to make myself much longer), I had my reasons for liking Secret Garden. It’s true that I’m a long-time Angra fan and a strong metal enthusiast, but the key feature that really made me put this album over many other 2014 great albuns was the way it exceeded my expectations. Secret Garden was different from many new albums of long-loved bands, who were just newer versions of the same (Angra included). In this effort, while searching for something new, they were beyond their rational parnassian music-making: It was a creative, future-seeker effort, much more emotional and human than most of their previous works. Yes, it might be a bit difficult to digest sometimes, or even a little boring for non-metal listeners, but don’t doubt: it’s worth your time! Believe me, listen to it to its end, and then, listen again, focusing on its great instrumentals and imagine what kind of potential was unveiled from this experience. If this surprising album that made a pessimistic long-time fan replay the record over and over again doesn’t make you, rock/metal fan, interested or any music-lover curious, I’ll be surprised with what would make.