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Incredibly powerful and powerfully unique. - 95%

Idrownfish, January 7th, 2012

While I personally think that Angra would only reach its peak five years after the departure of their original vocalist, for me André Matos holds the position of “best thing that has ever happened to Brazilian metal” firmly. His is one of the most prolific and accomplished careers in the world of heavy metal, and after twenty-five years of activity, he simply refuses to stop writing interesting material, even when it comes to Symfonia’s grossly underrated debut album. A precocious prodigy, he provided vocals for Viper’s first demo at the age of fourteen. At fifteen, he recorded his first album, and at eighteen, with two demos and two albums (one of them, Theatre of Faith, of remarkable quality) under his belt and after being the opening act of a Motörhead concert, he left Viper when forced to choose between the band and finishing his education in classical music.

You came to this review, perhaps obviously, to read about Angels Cry, but a brief synopsis of Matos’ career before the formation of Angra is essential in order to understand what is going on here. This album was recorded before Rafael Bittencourt and Kiko Loureiro (who at this point was mere shadow of his future, shredding-abomination self) had a position of influence within the band, and because of that Angra’s debut is Matos’ show completely. He provided all the piano, keyboards and vocals present here, wrote all the songs but one and was ultimately responsible for the production decisions that made Angra’s first two albums so recognizable.

Some of those decisions at first seem to conflict with the nature of the band: these guys play, and have always played, power metal, but despite Hugo Mariutti’s thick and clear bass lines, this recording would not get many awards for its heaviness. There is a lot of double bass present here, but it is easy to overlook, and the keyboards and violins constantly override the guitars when those aren’t playing the lead. Everything is extremely well balanced, and even when the power metal madness comes in during tracks such as Carry On, it is easy to keep track of what each instrument is doing. Those characteristics, along with the unique, relaxed backing vocals that the band employs in their recordings until this day (although now they appear way less frequently) cast an easygoing atmosphere that simply refuses to wear off, even when André – who is singing in full countertenor voice here - comes in.

The album begins with the neoclassical introduction “Unfinished Allegro” and after less than a minute “Carry On” kicks in. It is perhaps the best known song that Angra has ever come up with (although not necessarily the best), and it is easy to know why. The band wastes no time when displaying their technical skills, and after a chaotic passage of forty seconds that wouldn’t have worked with most bands we have already heard twenty five seconds of double bass, impressive tapping work by Bittencourt and Loureiro and even a bass solo. Those first forty seconds build up adrenaline in a way that very few songs manage to do, and when the tension reaches its peak, André Matos makes his impeccable (although rather dramatic) entrance. The rest of the track is essentially speed-obsessed power metal, and with the exception of a second bass solo, the band refuses to slow things down. The song’s chorus, one of the most dramatic and emotive choruses in Angra’s career (and that is saying something), helped to cement Carry On as a crowd favourite, and the optimistic nature of the lyrics, even when those are kind of silly, makes it impossible not to smile.

The intense power metal displayed during the first track, however, never returns with the same intensity. In its place we get to see the sound that Angra would become known for: a balance between the non-percussive side of Brazilian music, progressive metal, power metal and neoclassical influences. In this particular album, there are fewer Brazilian rhythms and progressive passages than someone familiar with their latter albums would expect, which is compensated by an absurd amount of neoclassical nods. Short phrases, upbeat tempos and the harmonic minor scale abound. Displaying his obsession with violins, André Matos turned Paganini into a constant presence thorough the album and even paid homage to the main theme of his Caprice n° 24 by fitting it in the title track.

And by “fitting” I mean “making it look like Caprice n° 24 is paying homage to Angels Cry”. Everything blends so perfectly that if I was told before getting to know Angra that this album was released yesterday, or at least after neoclassical metal was a well-established genre, I would probably comment on how solid and innovative it was. As other reviewers have stated, the fact that Angels Cry was released in 1992 should probably make it one of the best-known metal albums of all time, and I might – forgive me – Never Understand why it did not even manage to sell a million copies. The musicianship present here is nothing short of monumental, and André’s creativity is displayed with such intensity that nowadays Kai Hansen’s decision to support Matos and his crew of nobodies since the very beginning by lending them his studio sounds completely logical. The band simply does not run out of ideas, throwing masterpiece after masterpiece and wrapping those masterpieces in mightily technical skills, creating so many memorable riffs and passages that the album doesn’t lose its ability to amaze before the tenth listen.

I really do not think that any song here deserves to be highlighted, although I do have my personal favorites (they would be Carry On and the 8-minutes epic, Never Understand). That is because few albums feel as right as this one as a unit. Sascha Paeth, who seems to magically understand exactly what the band was going for, provides top-notch production that never fails to maintain the powerful and somehow soothing atmosphere that is unique to Angra’s first two albums. Angels Cry is essentially sixty-one minutes of the same (very) rich and (very) interesting experience.

Thus begins the career of what is probably Brazil’s best export. The world is unfortunately incredibly evil and incoherent, and Sepultura keeps selling more than Angra despite what is now fifteen years of rather… questionable releases. Whatever. Angra has been wronged by the world, but with bands such as Coroner failing to survive in the 90’s, 800000 sold copies is nothing to complain about.

Oh, and there is a Kate Bush cover here. It is amazing! Haha, what the fuck!

A golden dawn for Brazilian power/prog - 90%

AnalogKid, December 5th, 2011

The library of Brazilian power/prog band Angra is a bit of an unusual one, and there seem to be several different “moods” that the group settles into on various albums, which re-occur later in their career. Both Fireworks and Holy Land demonstrate qualities that later would crop up in Aurora Consurgens and Aqua, and if this is the case, the band’s self-title 1993 debut Angels Cry is the crackling herald of things to come on Rebirth. It’s very alien to think that Angra was once a fledgling power metal band, brilliant and talented even in its infancy, but all of them have started somewhere, and Angra brighter than most.

The complexity and ingenuity of Angels Cry is as striking now as it must have been when the band’s first few fans put their headphones to their ears or the needle to vinyl back in the early 90′s. Similar to any good progressive metal band, a new juicy tidbit jumps out of music upon each repeated listen, continuously enriching the album’s experience, whether it’s one of Matos’ vocal turns, a backing guitar melody that you just noticed, or that great bass fill that you weren’t expecting. The dual guitar mastery of Loureiro and Bittencourt, while not having reached the majesty that it would on later albums, has its beginning here, and it’s a bit of a puzzle as to why the aggressive shredding was fairly absent on the subsequent two albums before returning in a blaze of glory.

Angels Cry was perhaps one of the true pioneering albums of the early 1990′s, and indeed of the progressive power metal fusion genre in general. On this album, Matos, Loureiro, and company repeatedly take speedy power metal, frequent neo-classicism, instrumental prowess, regular tempo shifts, colorful chordal combination, and stinging guitar solos, blending them nearly seamlessly, track after track, into a final product that is often both exhilarating and spellbinding. More than nearly any other progressive power project of the early 90′s, the combination of all of these elements just plain works.

Part of the reason for this success is the voice of Andre Matos. Not until Shaman’s 2002 release Ritual, after departing Angra, would he put forth such a strong lead vocal performance, and I feel that even that does not equal his work on Angels Cry. While his voice fits well enough in the following Holy Land, Fireworks saw his vocals beginning to clash with the music that Angra was creating. But here, at the beginning, Matos’ vocals are effortlessly strong during high points such as “Evil Warning”, “Carry On”, and “Streets Of Tomorrow”, followed by touching sensitivity in “Wuthering Heights” and “Lasting Child” (though there are a couple of parts on the latter where his vocals gain a bit of an irritating quality). Throughout these songs and on the rest of the album, Matos bounces back and forth with grace and poise, with only an occasional long-held falsetto drone to spoil the grandeur.

These occasional vocal trips, along with a very occasional tendency to drag out a musical idea, are the only small problems with this rather magnificent debut. The great work on Angels Cry is spread all around the album, but my personal favorite section is the run from “Never Understand”, through “Wuthering Heights” and “Streets Of Tomorrow”, and ending with “Evil Warning”. All of these songs are among the best compositions in Angra’s early career, and offer lasting memorability and the utmost level of enjoyment that the band has to offer.

There’s really no poor starting point for new listeners to Angra, but depending on the attention level of the new listener, I would recommend Angels Cry over even Rebirth or Temple Of Shadows, because we all enjoy seeing how a band started, especially when the artist’s baptism is as fulfilling and stirring as Angra’s. A debut to stand the test of time, Angels Cry is a testament to what young and talented, but as yet unknown musicians can accomplish when they set their minds to their work.

Originally written for Black Wind Metal (blackwindmetal.com)

Heavenly Headbanging - 95%

KingOfTheStoneAge, October 19th, 2011

Ok the title is slightly misleading, there is so much more to this album than headbanging, it goes through the whole range of speeds, often within one song, it's safe to say Angra aren't afraid to mix different styles. The closest this album comes to containing any filler, is strangely the title track, it isn't as good as the other songs on here but it's still good.

This album is full of energy, from the opening tracks Unfinished Allegro and Carry On, which will have you bouncing off the ceiling, through the slower tracks which while undeniably metal, focus more on vocals, with Matos clearly enjoying himself providing soaring notes across a huge range, and at times softer tones. Of course the guitars are central to the whole album and provide endless hooks, never sounding like they're running out of ideas. The soloing at the end of Never Understand is brilliant. The basslines frequently join in the sonic acrobatics as well and the band seem to be enjoying crafting a finely made masterpiece.

Upon multiple listens what you notice is the layers to the music, there are keyboards, flutes, various percussion in the background which meld into and compliment the sound perfectly, it isn't a surprise to learn that Matos is a classicaly trained musician, and indeed Paganini gets a huge nod in the title track. In fact there are lots of moments you can pick out which sound like nods to other bands, from Rush to Michael Jackson or Metallica, but the biggest surprise is the Wuthering Heights cover, performed with gusto, and guts too considering that this is a metal band. The lyrics are also above par.

For a finely crafted album which hits you with it's energy, catchiness and sense of play on the first listen, then continues to draw to you back to it again and again, as you unravel it's layers, Angra have created a near perfect piece, and for this reason I gave it such a high score. It doesn't have the best guitars ever, it doesn't have the best drums, or bass, it may well have the best vocals, but it is the final product which makes this special.

Excellent Start! - 92%

Fiefire, October 6th, 2009

What can I say about this album that starts the career of the greatest melodic metal/ power metal band from Brazil, Angra? It isn't, simply, another power metal album, but a solid and powerful creation from Kiko, Rafael, Andre, Luis and Ricardo (despite that Alex Holzwarth recorded all the album, except one song, recorded by Thomas Nack)."Angels Cry" has the best collection of songs and atmospheres that they could create.

It starts with an epic and something what would become after a classic Angra intro, "Unfinished Allegro". With all the orchestration, violins, cellos and keyboards, this intro obtains a stunning power and a great beginning, presenting to us the next and, probably, the greatest Angra hit. "Carry On" begins with fast drums and a gripping gathering of riffs and solos. Despite that, I must confess that I really don't understand this song's lyrics, however it is impossible not to sing it. "Carry On" is an awesome lesson of any instrument or vocal that you could have, showing us what Angra could become.

The next song has a calm introduction that is extremely similar to "Castles Burning"'s after-chorus, from Savatage. Besides that, we can't know who stole these compasses from the other, because both of them released their albums in close dates. Anyway, "Time" brings to us powerful riffs and a strong chorus, followed by impressive solos. The next one is the title song, "Angels Cry". In my opinion, it is one of this album's less gripping song, however it still is a creative song. It is one of Angra's most progressive songs, sounding really strange after listening for the first time.

This album, "Angels Cry" isn't a "Love at first-listening" album, however it isn't one of those albums that you take some months to understand it. You will, probably, listen to it two or three times until you love it (or hate it). "Stand Away" is the next one. It is the first ballad of this album, showing us Andre's amazing vocal range and Kiko's creativity. It is a beautiful ballad that breaks the speed we had until now. "Never Understand" shows us the leading characteristic of Angra's genre: Brazilian rhythm within heavy metal songs. This isn't just an Angra's characteristic, but a common topic between Brazilian bands, independent of their genres.

The next song, "Wuthering Heights" is, probably, the most controversial song of this album and, maybe, of Angra's career. It is a cover of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" and shows us all the power that Andre has in his vocal chords. Many Angra's fans love this cover, but some say that it is a little bit exaggerated and unnecessary, a gap-filler. The next one is a heavy and progressive song, "Streets Of Tomorrow". To be honest, this is the song that couldn't let me give a 100% mark on this album. This song is, to me, "Angels Cry"'s weakest song and less creative. Unfortunately, the next song was played few times live. "Evil Warning" gathers the atmospheres and melodies of the rest of the album, showing us great inspiration and creativity. This song is another great lesson of solos and keyboards arrangements. The last song begins and what we hear during the last minutes is a progressive and beautiful song, "Lasting Child". It brings to me several feelings ad emotions during it.

"Angels Cry" isn't a perfect album, but I high recommend it to everyone, liking or not power metal.

The first true metal-classical fusion? - 90%

ghostofthesun, November 17th, 2008

When this album was released, the rest of the metal world was gradually and tentatively incorporating classical elements in the frame work of metal songs. Angra's 'Angels Cry' was the first full-blown fusion between classical music and the sub-genre of power metal. Bands like Celtic Frost, Dream Theater, Metallica, Blind Guardian, and even Ozzy Osbourne persued classical themes in their music. Many bands at the time, and before, used pseudo-classical elements as a gimmick, but Angra were the first to make a full-blown fusion of metal and classical music. It is surprising to think that this is their debut album, as it is so accomplished.

Most of these songs are written by singer/keyboardist/orchestral arranger Andre Matos, who truly studied classical music. One of the guitarists, Rafael Bittencourt, makes a contribution with Matos on five of these ten tracks, but Matos is the real force behind this album. His vocals are high-pitched and emotive, which is guaranteed to annoy some. He is strongly influenced by metal legends Bruce Dickinson and Michael Kiske. Matos doesn't quite have the commanding power of
Dickinson or the gay (in the non-homosexual sense) intonation of Kiske, but neither would suit these kinds of romanticly oriented compositions. The notes he hits are not all pointlessly high (Kiske) or over the top (almost every vocalist in the genre). He even covers a Kate Bush song ("Wuthering Heights") flawlessly, the guitarists adding classy solos in the second half of the song, which overall at least equals the original.

Like any good power metal album, Angra here are not just sticking to a formula. After the (soon to be in this genre) obligatory classical intro ("Unfinished Allegro"), in comes the warp-speed melodic metal of "Carry On," but unlike most speed metal, it does not stay in this one gear throughout. Matos plays a speedy classical passage on keyboards as the guitars try to keep pace. It's really fun actually, considering the rest of the album is so sincere. Matos really steals the show, even if his vocals are an acquired taste. The song continues on, never running out interesting ideas, and by it's end, it is a clear stand-out on the album, if not Angra's discography.

The next track, "Time," is also interesting because of the almost inhuman way Matos stretches and harmonizes his vocals at the 1:24 mark. My jaw was on the ground! He may be a total pussy, but he's got talent. Musically, the song is phenomenal, from its graceful intro to its symphonic guitar riffs, and another Matos tour-de-force.

The title-track is even more impressive. Once again, the symphonic riffs are utterly economical, and Matos adds some seriously interesting classical melodies, some of which are very potent, and others which are graceful. Lyrically, this song is nowhere close to reality, but that is Romanticism for you. It's just a great piece of escapism.

The songs on 'Angels Cry' benefit from a near-perfect production job (for 1993). You can actually hear the bass, and the guitars don't sound sloppy. The riffs may be too 'lite' for some, but guitars really aren't the main focus of 'Angels Cry.' They are just another element, as most of times Matos' keys carry the melody. Also, I just recently noticed how talented the drummer is, and the bass player as well. It is easy to miss all the interesting hooks they provide when there are so many other good ideas all around.

The songs are all solid, and I suppose you could say one or two are filler, but even so, they go by pleasantly at least. With their debut, Angra forsakes the cold technical ecstasy of the power metal and speed metal genres, and even the more sterile classical elements available, to make a masterpiece in the romantic metal genre.

(My version comes with three bonus remixes, which are kinda pointless.)

The Rebirth of Power Metal. - 94%

maverickvkz, August 19th, 2008

On 2004 I bought my first Angra CD and I had great expectations of the band. I didn’t know the story behind these Brazilians, but many things I heard about them months before quickly intrigued me. It was said that inside their lines there had walked two of South America’s most talented singers, while a heavenly musicianship inspired in old school power metal, and combined with constant foreign sound cameos, which particularly included samba, blues, salsa, jazz and many other music styles, gave life to what was said to be Brazil’s most reputed act. Of course, they had to share this title with thrash metal band Sepultura.

As everyone who embarks inside Angra’s ship knows, the band’s history has been divided into two different eras: The first one, which was led by Andre Matos in almost every corner (Lyrics, music, instrument selection), started with their extraordinary debut Angels cry, and ended with their sparkling masterpiece Fireworks. This is the era that we need to know (For now), and it began in 1993 with Angels Cry, which many claim to be Angra’s best release so far. Many others give that credit to their follow-up Holy Land, and the rest (Which includes me) think that it’s only the best album of the Andre Matos era, but not of the band’s discography (Cheers, mighty Shadow Hunter!). Nevertheless, there is a more important fact to state. Angels Cry was the album that revolutionized the way power metal was being made until that year..

Personally, I define Angels Cry as a power/progressive metal release, with many interesting elements which make it very unique and solid. There are songs that include symphonic pieces, influenced on musicians such as Niccolò Paganini or Baroque music composer Vivaldi. This strange combination of extremely different music genres was later adopted by other bands, because Angra proved that it beautifully worked. Another remarkable feature was the duo that guitar virtuoso Kiko Loureiro (Co-founder and shredder) and Rafael Bittencourt (Co-founder and second guitarist) made. They seem to be connected to each other since the day they were born, and they smartly let go their virtuosity in the exciting, yet melancholic atmosphere of Angels Cry, with exhilarating solos that only a few shredders of the scene can surpass. The constant double-bass drumming doesn’t let anyone down, as it soars, slow downs, speeds up, or gets out of the way whenever it’s needed.

Nevertheless, Angra’s first era had something that always overshadowed the musician’s skills. That “something” is known as Andre Matos. One of the former reviewers mentioned a huge truth. Anyone who has a taste of Angra’s early albums can hate Andre’s vocals, because of the exaggerated and –many times- annoying falsettos that he blatantly sings whenever he can, even if they’re unnecessary. The pitch of Mr. Matos can disturb you as if you were watching a sissy girl dance the Cha-Cha-Cha. You can praise him, in the contrary, for his endless creativity in the song writing area, which he pours in every corner of the album to speak of modern life issues. However, don’t get me wrong, because his high-ranged vocals also work well in several parts of the release, but, I’m always more neutral and harsh whenever I’m asked of my opinion about Andre’s singing abilities. He didn’t fully control his voice in the first phase of his career (Which included his former Viper venture). That’s the bottom line, whether you like it or not. I’m not a part of that bunch of stupid fanboys who idolize and even compare Andre Matos with legendary Michael Kiske, neither am I a shallow minded human being to even think that the band died when this guy left. Anyways, let’s get back to review Angels Cry, before I continue hurting some sensitive kids out there.

In contrast with other debut releases, this one lacks of any flaw. It’s an interesting way to show how mature the band was, despite of their little experience on recording a studio album. As for song construction, they are definitely quite ahead of their countrymen who ventured in the genre, and couldn’t even write any decent stanza. Many of the tracks’ tempos suffer unexpected but efficient changes, where the orchestration steps in and does the rest. As you can see, this release doesn’t have a 100% metal structure, but it wasn’t as noticeable as it would later be on Holy Land, where Angra almost lost its metal sound.

Angels Cry kicks off with “Unfinished Allegro”, the band’s most known instrumental intro, with the keyboard being its primary element, and it’s a short relax for what’s about to come. The symphonic intro is entirely tied to “Carry On”, the expected explosive head banger which starts as any other average power metal tune, but it later falls inside catchy progressive passages which are decorated with keyboards and trumpets, while Kiko Loureiro delivers a memorable shredding, which wisely assaults the listener. Its music conveys many positive feelings, which inspire you to overcome any issue that you could be experiencing in your life. Many believe this to be the definitive Angra anthem, and it quickly became the absolute fan favourite that the band had to perform by the end of their shows, in order to close them properly. After this five-minute epic piece, we move on with “Time”, a heavier track, which begins with a mellow acoustic guitar solo, and it immediately flows into a mid-tempo melody, with an excellent performance by Mr. Matos, and his unmistakable falsettos (Which don’t bother here too much). It’s a slow-grower, and one of my favourite songs from the album, too. I don’t understand why many dislike it, since it goes straight to the point with a simple, yet professional structure. Its non-pretentious guitar break gives us more shots of the huge talent that both Loureiro and Bittencourt own, and we don’t want the song to end. The band members were having the time of their lives while recording it, indeed, and anyone out there who dared to say that the song is a waste of time was wrong.

With the title track “Angels Cry”, it’s time to go back to epic. True epic. Once it begins, the guitars invite you to enjoy the fest, as the song inevitably speeds up for a delicate guitar solo, which is then followed by another change of tempo (The one that gave life to it), which prevails until its catchy bridge ends, so it can speed up again. Sounds interesting, right? Needless to say, this is one of the album’s progressive tracks, and the singer drives his voice to new limits, but in some parts of the chorus his shrieks make me want to cut off his balls. (Wait a second; wouldn’t that actually make Matos shriek even more? Damn!) I can only find two words to describe how his voice sounds there: FUCKING GAY. Sorry, I didn’t find a better adjective, but that doesn’t change the fact that I stated earlier. “Angels Cry” is amazing, and it even has more depth than “Carry On”, the backing vocals do a nice job, and the band flirts with other music genres.

It’s very important to mention another highlight, which stands for the name of “Streets of Tomorrow”, perhaps the heaviest song of the release, which splashes over your head with aggressive bass solos (Courtesy of Luis Mariutti), and it keeps that same structure until it ends. Everything sounds great here. The vocals, the drumming, the bass solos, the keyboards, and of course, Loureiro’s impressive shredding, which once again bewitches your senses. “Stand Away” and “Lasting Child” are two decent ballads, where in the former Matos hooks you with his pipes, and the magnificent orchestration adds more interest to it, while the song walks faster and becomes a terrific power ballad, showcasing one of Andre’s best vocal performances. “Lasting Child”, which is divided into two halves, is somehow boring and it moves too damn slow, (Matos also turns annoying at times) but it has a pretty long instrumental ending, where violins, flutes and keyboards help to recreate a magical fairy tale. There’s a third ballad, which is also considered as the controversial song of the album, and it’s named “Wuthering Heights”. This is a cover from 80’s female pop singer Kate Bush. Now, if you have heard the original version, you know that Kate’s voice sounds like a cheesy deranged cat. Matos provides a new romantic tint to the song, but he totally abuses of the falsettos, which actually constitute the whole chorus. Yes, it’s clear that Andre’s inflated ego made him include this cover just to show “how much of a son of a bitch he was”. The chorus repeats for about ten times, and you end hating this bizarre operatic attempt. If you don’t pay attention to these remarks, then you might as well adore the song. If that’s not the case, then I predict a dangerous boiling point of two minutes.

It’s a shame that “Never understand”, which is the only track that includes Brazilian-influenced melodies later defined as the Angra sound, turns repetitive and boring after four minutes. It starts with a melodic riff, and catchy bass lines. I love the whole mixture of acoustic guitars with exotic Brazilian sounds, because they make you feel inside a ritual of any ancient tribe. Too bad the excitement ends soon. When you feel that the song is about to reach its climax, everything comes to a halt and waters down into a disposable angry progressive bass shredding, which immediately makes you want to skip it.

And finally, Oh, my God! We arrive to the last sheer power metal masterpiece of the record! Its name is “Evil Warning”, and I’ve always kept it under a golden highlight status, since it combines everything that was used to design “Angels Cry” and “Carry On”. Just add speed metal touches in the vein of larger than life Judas Priest’s Painkiller, plus a majestic neo-classical substance that is explored at its best. So, what’s the outcome of all this? A demented super-classic which begins with a delightful choir led by Matos, and then, it all bursts out into a supersonic headbanger, which never stops. In addition, keyboards (Played by Matos) are more involved here than in the rest of the album.

Angels Cry was well received by the early 90’s audience, although the grunge wave had already started its irreversible chain of havoc on music. The band’s video for the song “Time”, was featured on MTV and had a warm reception, as well. (Yeah, there was a time when MTV didn’t suck). Angra has been one of the few bands that never mistreated the genre, but instead, took it under their arm and lifted it to unimaginable levels. This is not another common power metal release. This is a brilliant achievement of the early 90’s which was much more carefully elaborated than the 80% of the releases that are produced nowadays.

An expression of greatness. - 90%

hells_unicorn, December 19th, 2006

It can be plainly said that the early 1990s there was a battle going on between the old guard of metal musicians who wished to continue to progress in the realm of artistic greatness, and a new off-shoot of minimalist groove acts who wanted to find the groove and vegetate. Never could a more clear contrast be seen than between newly formed Power Metal act Angra’s “Angels Cry” and old guard Thrashers turned Groove Metal posers Sepultura’s musical defecation “Chaos A.D.” The reason why I bring up this point is to point out my own theory about human evolution applied to the arts, because evidently the area that one hails from does not alone determine how someone’s music will sound.

Both these bands carry a share of Brazilian tribal influences in their music, but the comparison pretty much ends there. Although most of Angra’s pursuit of the sounds of their area is more fully realized on “Holy Land”, we see a bit of them in some of the musical breakdowns and in the opening section of “Never Understand”. However, this band exhibits a sort of musical eclecticism in every song that almost seems more fitting of a Power/Progressive outfit. Tracks such as “Angels Cry”, “Stand Away” and “Evil Warning” have high operatic and symphonic moments to them, as does the rather brief musical prelude “Unfinished Allegro”. “Time” and their remake of “Wuthering Heights” are both wonderful hybrids of Jazz and Metal, exhibiting a ballad quality, yet still rocking fairly hard. “Carry On” is probably the catchiest song on here, but it has a highly complex interlude section and a rather brilliant set of structural twists and turns.

The most ambitious work on this album is “Lasting Child”, which runs an epic 7:35 and has two contrasting sections, each carrying a separate title. The acoustic section of the 2nd part titled “Renaissance” sounds appropriate for the time period that is implied. By contrast, the remaining track that has not been mentioned “Streets of Tomorrow” is the purest heavy metal track, having a pounding riff to kick it off, followed by some decent mid-tempo work. It is a bit reminiscent of the work Andre Matos did with his previous band Viper.

One thing that is a bit peculiar to this band which would definitely separate them from other power metal acts is the technical abilities of bassist Luis Mariutti, who really shows some impressive chops. His work is particularly noticeable on “Carry on”, “Never Understand”, and the title track, but every song on here involves a highly active and distinct bass part. This combined with the amazing technical abilities of both guitarists and Matos’ easily recognizable voice help the entire work to fall into place quite nicely.

When looking at such a towering work of art, it is not easy to wonder why Brazil still has a thriving metal scene while America is still stuck in the musical dark ages. Despite having a highly corrupt influence upon the scene, Angra was an excellent alternative to Sepultura’s hypnotic tribal nonsense that had the right kind of forward looking spirit to it that most American bands that tried to challenge Pantera and Metallica lacked. Dio and Megadeth were both conservatives in the 90s, and although they put out some solid music in the early 90s, they didn’t offer anything that could counter the change that would come afterward.

In conclusion, this is essential listening for any fan of melodic music, although Power and Progressive Metal fans will get the most out of it. It is a testament to the fact that a band can utilize the roots of its culture to establish its identity, yet not be a slave to it the way others tend to be, and truly created something innovative for the metal faithful to enjoy. I am proud to give this album my recommendation, so get to the store and pick up a copy today.

Impressing, even though is power metal - 91%

arkbath, December 7th, 2004

Power metal. Why people still hails bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, etc? Because they have lead this trend since the end of the 80’s and beginning of the 90’s. Making power metal in these days could be dangerous, I mean, being a power metal is difficult actually. Lack of originality is the main problem with power metal, and since the mid 90’s this genre is dying and we see a lot of bands arrive and just pass away because they sound like ____________ (put any band name here). The difference with Angra is that they are serious and don’t follow trends in power metal (dragons, forests, castles, victory). This step away from common lyrics in the genre can make a great difference and lyrically Angra has proved since the release of Angels Cry they geniality to talk about life in general, but lyrics go to hell if music is boring.

If you take a listen to Angels Cry, you may think “it’s just another power metal album”. Yeah, all right, but let’s see… it was their debut album and sometimes debut albums remark the main influences of the band. Angels Cry is not the exception. The main sound will attract Helloween fans, but there are details that make this album special. André Matos and his musical studies have helped to develop some arrangements that make stronger the songs in the perfect moment. The musical production is another essential factor to achieve this. Sascha Paeth (Heavens Gate) was in charge of this task and the result is a new fresh sound. You can hear all the instruments with detail. Bass don’t get lost, so the lines (specially the little but awesome solos) played by Luis Mariutti can be appreciated. Drums are OK, killer, but not something to become crazy about. And the guitars, when is about rhythm, sounds like every power metal guitar line, but making a good job to keep you expecting more; but what comes to shine are the guitar solos, Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt are not the best guitarists (this doesn’t means that they are bad or they suck, they are just good guitar players) but as both take the leading duties it makes them one of the best guitar duos among others like Murray-Smith or Weikath-Grapow. Vocals are powerful, even though I don’t like when Matos seems to loose the range of his voice (he sounds like a boy having a voice change), but I think he makes it with intention and that’s his style and what gives Angra a characteristic sound, so I think it’s OK, also because he is one of the most well-known vocalists in the power metal scene.

Songs to be heard: Carry On, being the most acclaimed track of the album; the title track, Angels Cry, with a classical interlude that just kick ass; Never Understand, with the guest appearances of master Kai Hansen, Dirk Schlächter (both from Gamma Ray), and Sascha Paeth playing amazing solos respectively at the end of the song along with Loureiro and Bittencourt; Evil Warning, my favorite, playing a strange but interesting banjo intro and classical arrangements, later an interlude that grows with tension breaking in one of the best guitar solos on the album.

I think Angels Cry was a good debut for Angra. It’s not for every one, maybe just for people who is into power metal, but is worth to listen a few times just for the musical ideas on it and for the impact it had on the scene considering that Angra is not another german band (like the most in power metal) but a group of brazilian guys playing the music they like, showing that not only Europe can deliver great bands and quality in music.