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As a power metal album I can't say it's great in that department. But in the progressive department it's beautiful rivaling anything that dream theater has ever written (I might even say better, just because Falaschi is an amazing vocalist). The style of this album is truly unique, I call this art because it's just so well written. This is definitely one of the best written albums I've ever heard. Plus the style relies on the beauty and skill of the instrument playing rather than just the speed and catchy-ness of the songs. The album is also a concept album (which I always find to be better written than other albums) based on Shakespeare's; The Tempest which makes this effort seem even more impressive and ambitious. The only problem at all with this is the production value; it's not great. It sounds very hollow especially when compared to Temple of Shadows. But it doesn't impact it that much once you get into it and you just stop noticing it all together.
The highlights of this are; Arising Thunder, Lease of Life and Spirit of the Air. Arising Thunder is the typical kick-ass opening, and while it's not as good as Nova Era or Spread Your Fire it's still pretty damn good with a good chorus and some very interesting off beat playing rather than the typical power metal sixteenth note drum beats that really keeps it interesting. Lease of Life is the best song on this album as well as Angra's best ballad ever. It's an extraordinarily beautiful piece that encompasses some really good song writing and just adds so much to this album. Spirit of the Air is a lot of fun with a good chorus and a style that reminds us of their Latin American roots in spectacular fashion allowing this song to be a very light fun song. The rest of this album is... very, very progressive. This is probably the most progressive album they have written up to this point, with hints of metal here and there though it still manages to remind you that Angra is a metal band; I would definitely classify them as progressive power metal.
Unfortunately I have always felt that Angra is a little weak on ending their album, they always end their albums with something slow (but beautiful nonetheless) I prefer epic, or just fast and uplifting, but that's just my opinion. Ashes is a decent ballad, but I truly think they could have ended the album better. This another great addition to Angra's growing list of great albums, in fact I would call them the most consistent in terms of quality of work and just managing to release great album after album. Personally I don't think they have released a single bad album; Fireworks may be a little weak, but it's good nonetheless. This is definitely better than Aurora Consergence, but not as good as Rebirth or Temple of Shadow's (those will be tough to top) but it's definitely gotten me excited for whatever they release next.
Year after year, one could hardly go wrong with Angra. Every time this Brazilian powerhouse decides to change gears a little bit, they do it stylishly because these five guys have so much know-how and musicianship it gets crazy sometimes. However, recent years have not been really kind on the group, and internal turmoil resulted in the release of the often derided “Aurora Consurgens” (a fine metal album, but not a good Angra one) and the subsequent exit of Aquiles Priester, forcing the band into hiatus, thus opening a path for numerous split-up rumors to surface and quickly spread. However, this was not the end. After some time in silence, the group re-emerged in 2009 touring alongside Sepultura, having fired their former manager (Responsible for the band’s first break-up) and re-hiring Ricardo Confessori as drummer.
At last, in 2010, they apparently (and finally) sorted their shit out and told the press they’d be releasing a concept album based on “The Tempest”, by friggin’ Shakespeare no less, which was eventually named “Aqua”. The band and most of its fans hyped this like crazy, making it sound like Angra's second resurrection after troubled times and a soon-to-be classic of sorts. However, skeptic bastards such as me just waited to see what would emerge from Norcal Studios’ mixing room and from the hands of this remarkably talented quintet.
Curious happy-go-lucky studio diaries were released, showing a band seemingly full of chemistry, focus, readiness to kick the whole world in the butt once again and whatnot, but propaganda’s a bitch and odds were not particularly good for them, though. First, the album would be self-produced, which is something I don’t always take well. You may argue that it bodes well in this case because three band members are producers (Falaschi, Andreoli and Bittencourt), but I don’t really trust these guy’s egos when it comes to something like this. Second, it was a matter of public knowledge that Edu’s voice was all but completely shot (despite of him saying otherwise in the diaries) and the rest of the band was busy with their respective side projects: Rafael Bittencourt had his superb “Bittencourt Project”; Kiko Loureiro was shredding his way through self-indulgent but competent solo albums; Falaschi and Andreoli were ready to revive Almah and Confessori was engaged in promoting the piss-poor comeback album “Immortal” with what was left of Shaman after its break-up, because all these dudes apparently have something against staying together peacefully for a few years without wishing to tear each other apart like rabid wolves.
So, “Aqua” saw the light of day, and as with every overhyped album, some people loved it to death whereas others hated it like the plague. I, for one, found it really underwhelming.
Basically, there are two things that kill this album: The dreary production job and the lack of overall proper momentum. This is probably the driest production job this band ever had, and by this point they should know better before coming up with this stuff. For every good musical aspect, the asinine mixing shows up to cut half of the joy that comes from it. Of course there’s good riffs, but the guitars sound muddled, the distortion being painfully dry and powerless, and Ricardo Confessori, who’s been a little too sloppy since Shaman’s “Reason”, shows once again his talent for interesting, unorthodox beats, but his newfound (Well, since “Immortal”, that is) knack for thin-sounding, clicky drums sips every ounce of strength from such rhythms. Felipe Andreoli is certainly the most inspired musician here and his bass is loud and meaty enough, but also suffers with the never-ending dryness. It’s quite ironic that an album titled like that got such an arid mix.
As for the momentum, most of the songs here seem to drag on and on without really picking up, and the speedy numbers sound like they’re there just because Angra needs to have some good ol’ double-bass and neoclassical flourishes or else there’s going to be some kind of country-obliterating riot. “Arising Thunder”, Aqua’s first single, shows these dudes going on autopilot and presenting us a song that follows the “Angels Cry” template closely, with a catchy chorus, a very good verse riff and scandalous solo sections everywhere. While cookie-cutter Angra is still good enough, one could do no wrong with a little bit more verve. “Awake from Darkness”, for an example, is more adventurous; while also serving the “ETHNIC SEQUENCES, MAN” made obligatory since “Holy Land”, we also do get better riffs, Confessori showing some real stamina, more room for the throbbing, powerful bass to work around and one of Angra’s heaviest middle breaks. A bridge would be welcome between the crushing riff and the piano break, as the transition seems a little bit random, but other than that, the song is pure, sweet Brazilian power/prog the way only Angra can pull off with such class.
As for the other songs, they have the tendency of grabbing the listener’s attention only for awhile, only to start drifting in an out between segments of interesting musicianship and boring, droning passages that seem satisfied with just being there like half-finished, underdeveloped ideas.
“The Rage of the Waters” is another speedy track that is purely by-the-numbers Angra, but featuring uninteresting riffs (with the exception of the bass break, and even that sounds a little out of place), and un-engaging chorus. “Hollow” starts out with a brief electronic passage that has nothing to do with the song’s concept (or the album’s, for that matter) that segues into a cool instrumental section, then into an uninspired verse and a chorus that is just too damn happy for these lyrics, and so the songs drifts and drones until it finally picks up for a couple of seconds, only to fall back into the sleepy bridge and happy refrain again. “Spirit of the Air” and “Weakness of a Man” seem like sister songs in the sense that both begin well, but soon fall prey to unfocused songwriting and, obviously, the Fluffy Chorus Syndrome, although the latter has better guitar work and a cooler verse. Album closer “Ashes”, save for a great chorus and an above-average performance by Edu, is a track I found really boring. It takes the theatrical route but then chases its own tail endlessly, so by the time the female vocals kick in I already lost patience, and this is a fucking 5 minute song! “No Pain for the Dead” is only a few seconds shorter than this, and it had me in a trance I couldn’t get out of, so what’s wrong?
“A Monster in Her Eyes”, on the other hand, is a profoundly tasteful song on which these guys get everything right. Just like “Lisbon” or the aforementioned “No Pain for the Dead”, this is one of Angra’s trademark tearjerker ballads that leave you in stupor. Edu crafts some amazing vocal melodies here and the song perfectly captures the mood brought by its sorrowful lyrics. See, the thing is that this neither speeds up too much just for the sake of it nor drones in an attempt to sound prog-ish and “atmospheric”. It’s just splendid melodies and focused songwriting all the way through.
Now, back to the individual performances, I would like to share some thoughts about Edu Falaschi. Since “Temple of Shadows”, his vocals have been worsening, his last recording that didn’t resort to copious amounts of studio magic being the “Hunters and Prey” EP and his live performances being, at times, painful to listen to. The problem, I guess, is that he didn’t prepare himself well enough after the tour to promote “Rebirth”, so his voice couldn’t take on stuff like “Carry On” every damn night without eventually saying goodbye, sometimes failing even when the rest of the band tuned to D. Recently, after an embarrassing performance at Rock in Rio (on which not only him, but the whole band suffered because of a terrible sound crew) he finally came to his senses and called a break on both his bands to care for his voice, also stating that the years finally won the battle and he would no longer sing songs that were beyond his tessitura (So we might all call bullshit on his claims in the diaries. Again, propaganda’s a bitch). Props to him for being an honest, humble dude, but the problem still lurks.
The thing is: Edu has (or had) a beautiful voice, a delightfully kooky timbre that goes well with power metal and some of his vocal lines in “Rebirth” and “Temple…” had me going “Holy shit!”, but now he sounds too raucous and, even when helped by supernatural studio powers, he suffers to sustain most of his upper range, disguising the strain as a kind of vocal drive similar to the one used by his former teacher (Brazilian singer Mario Pastore), so, in case he doesn’t come back fully recovered from his personal hiatus, there’s two choices for Angra: Write songs that better fit his shortening range (Or maybe downtune) or find another singer, because this has been dragging them down for a couple of years already. Dude has cool voice, or else he wouldn’t pen “Lease of Life”, a pop-sounding but sweet ballad, on which he shows how well he works with his lower range, coming up with catchy melodies and straining just a little bit at the end, where he calls upon his higher register for the song’s finale.
“Aurora Consurgens” showed us a group of five guys that were so pissed off at each other that such negative feelings eventually (and obviously, I might add) found their way into the songwriting. Years later, we get an album that represents Angra’s newest attempt at reconciling their differences and stepping up; however, it lacks strength and staying power to do so. Is it just a normal phase towards another classic yet to come, or is it a true sign that the band is, in fact, on the verge of a break-up yet again? Only the future can tell if one of Brazil’s giants will survive another season of ordeal and inner turmoil. The music is clearly there, but the minds and hearts responsible for it seem to be drifting in different currents.
Angra, seemingly a band that could do no wrong, released a number of great albums one after the other. Their last album was not as good as 2004's Temple of Shadows, but it was still a very good album. Then we got this, Aqua.
Aqua's is much better than 2006's Aurora Consurgens and maybe on par with Temple of Shadows in terms of songwriting, but the production is very bad, which is the major flaw of this album. The production while not loud, is rather dead. The instruments are mixed quite well and there is good dynamic range present. But it's still quite dead. I'm listening from the CD too, so don't criticize me for using illegally downloaded mp3's.
The music doesn't punch you in the face as other bands do, even bands with shitty production jobs get you headbanging, this doesn't. The production is reminiscent of Metallica's And Justice For All. Do you understand what I'm getting at, great music is at the surface but they don't really engage you.
As for the songwriting, very good as was mentioned earlier, faster tracks are my preference, but I enjoy the slower tracks such as "Lease of Life". There's much variety on this album. Duh, it's progressive/power metal. The guitarists are great with tons of melodic chops, rifs, classicial picking (on the slower songs). The guitars are probably the highlight of the album, there's always some sort of ever-changing guitar work present almost every second.
The bass is given quite a bit of authority on the recording, but I can't enjoy it due to the shameless production job. It's actually quite well done, even if it's mostly rhythm bass, it follows the rhythm guitar, and brings body to the music. Most of the time it's actually difficult to pinpoint the bass again due to the production job.
Drums are quite good. Fast paced and energetic, the drummer has done an excellent job in the rhythm of the music, can't really complain, and something different can be heard here on "Weakness of a Man". I have no idea what he's hitting, but it sounds good and is not something found on your regular power metal band. Maybe it's something Brazilian.
Lastly vocals, just how I like em, no more high as fuck and cheesy falsettos (this ain't 90's Angra). A rather consistent melodic style of singing can be found here that isn't too high or low akin to the last albums. Don't get me wrong, there's quite a good vocal range present, but not overly extreme.
In conclusion, 2010's Aqua maybe Angra's defining album but it lacks a proper production job, it's dull. It's not clean sounding a la Wintersun or overly loud a la Death Magnetic. It's a dead and lifeless production job that accomplishes nothing.
I honestly thought Aurora Consurgens was to be the last we would hear from Angra, so when news hit that they were set to release a new album I was frothing at the bit. Aqua was that very album, released in the summer of 2010.
Even though it has been just over a year I have fond memories of listening to Aqua around its release. The album always leaves me feeling positive, and despite a few naysayers who cried that it wasn't fast enough, or power metal enough is held in high esteem by yours truly.
Admittedly on my first listen I was teetering on the edges, the band released "Arising Thunder" prior to the album dropping, and that song whilst common of Angra and their previous two - three albums is not at all representative of Aqua. To a certain extent I can emphasize with "the haters". Still, despite being a little unsure on first impressions my knee-jerk reaction was not to decry the album and band, I though to myself "lets try that again".
Thus began my love affair with Aqua, I feel the album has been meticulously crafted, armed with unconventional hooks, and a certainly subtlety that seems almost planned to provide the kind of listening experience you can revisit time, after time, and find something new. The album starts off with a bang, "Arising Thunder" is atypical of an Angra album opener, reminding in places of "Spread Your Fire" funnily enough I actually find this to be the weakest track on Aqua.
"Awake From the Darkness" pushes the bands Brazilian roots up to the forefront, which I think is thanks in large part to the re-addition of Ricardo Confessori. Immediately you can notice the hooks are a little more subdued than is usual of the band, which is where Aqua is quite devious, as you barely realize it take a hold of you. The towering "Towering Rage of the Waters" complete with its soaring chorus, as well as the slithering "Hollow" are prime examples of the brilliance delivered on Aqua. Here we see Angra at their most progressive, and arguably at their finest.
I found Aqua to be somewhat of an amalgamation of Rebirth, Holy Land, Aurora Consurgens and the later half of Temple of Shadows yet when compared separately Aqua sticks out like a sore thumb. This is one of Angra's definitive releases and could be another turning part in their career, I'm mega excited to see where the band goes next, but until then Aqua is more than enough. This is serious music for serious people, and demands your attention, I guarantee that after a good ten spins that you won't be able to shake this. Angra are one of my favorite bands for good reason, and Aqua is further proof as to why.
(Oh and before I leave, "Monster In Her Eyes" 3:12 into the song; favorite moment on the album)
- ‘The Tempest’, Act I, Scene ii. Yes, I’m a geek.
I’m not surprised at all that a proggy power-metal quintet like Angra would attempt to go for a Shakespearean theme on ‘Aqua’, given that it fits well both with the high-concept, high-culture pretensions of progressive metal and with the proclivities of power metal for fantastic backdrops and flamboyant anachronism; what was surprising to me was that it was done so well. I had to admit to a slight eye-roll when I heard the Latin-chanted intro ‘Viderunt te Aquæ’, and a vague premonition that I might be in for an exercise in all the excess and Hammerfallery I had reason to fear, but Angra managed to keep things both restrained and interesting; this is a prime example of the saying that ‘less is more’. On the high-energy speed-metal opening number ‘Arising Thunder’ they have no trouble making things interesting by keeping the instrumentation tightly coordinated even on the guitar solos. I enjoy the Latin-tinged percussion, acoustic guitars and upbeat tempos on this album on tracks like ‘Awake from Darkness’, ‘Lease of Life’ and ‘Spirit of the Air’, and from reading other reviews on Encyclopædia Metallum it looks like I would appreciate Angra’s earlier albums for precisely this reason.
The production is very crisp on this album (something I appreciate) and the mixing allows Bittencourt’s guitar and Confessori’s drums to take all the space they deserve. Falaschi’s vocals are only slightly lackluster, but on this album in particular I don’t think they really need to be all that showy; his voice is there to dissolve fluidly into the instrumentation when it needs to. At many points it seems like I am not listening to a metal album at all but a mellow, jazzy progressive rock album. This isn’t meant as an insult at all, since it isn’t always a bad thing; in fact, it fits well with the central conceit of the album, that it reflects the elemental glory of the water both in its calm currents and in its pounding sound and fury. When the metal elements do come in – a guitar solo or a heavy riff echoing into the background or rising out of it – they fit in quite seamlessly and naturally with the acoustic elements. Only on a couple of songs do they come off (briefly) as cheaply sentimental, such as ‘Spirit of the Air’. I’m not a great fan of the chorus ‘[i]t’s no good to watch the skies through someone else’s eyes’; the vocals, the obvious rhyme and the melodic accompaniment rub me the wrong way.
The high points of the album, though, are without a doubt ‘Rage of the Waters’ and ‘Hollow’; both of these songs are indisputably on the power-metallic face of the album, and they manage to encapsulate and perfect all of the album’s various moods with instrumental transitions that run the gamut from the subtle to the startling. Sadly, after ‘Hollow’ the music tends to succumb to a mild case of mid-tempo progressive drag syndrome. Though both ‘Monster in Her Eyes’ and ‘Weakness of a Man’ continue to be technically impressive, and ‘Weakness of a Man’ in particular has a couple of legitimately catchy bridges three and five minutes in, respectively, it seems like for most of these two songs they’re just coasting downhill on the energy they’d built up earlier. Thankfully, they close off the album strong with the genuinely moving, down-tuned ‘Ashes’.
I make no apologies for enjoying this album; even though (with the exception of ‘Arising Thunder’) it isn’t grab-you-by-the-ruff awe-inspiring on first listen, it managed to grow on me quickly. Even if none (or at best one) of the tracks is an instant classic, ‘Aqua’ as a whole does deserve a high reputation as ‘something both rich and strange’.
18 / 20
Peaking my interest with the single they had released some weeks before the release of this seventh studio album, I had some high expectations for Angra's latest offering. Adding some forward thinking flair to a typically recycled world of power metal, this group from Brazil easily rival some of the better known giants in the genre, and 'Aqua' only helps to reassert this notion.
A concept album based on William Shakespeare's play 'The Tempest,' Angra are certainly taking ambitious risks with the subject matter. While the music certainly still falls comfortably within the realm of power metal, there are aspects of the music that sound very special. Paying homage to their mother culture, there are a few parts that really resound of the band's Latin heritage, which provide a refreshing lapse from the typical style. Beyond that however, Angra are making music that should sound familiar to anyone that has heard the genre before. What distinguishes them however, is how well they are able to pull it off.
While alot of the album relies on speed, soaring vocals (almost operatic in nature) and the fiery neoclassically oriented talents of the band's lead guitarist, repeated listens to 'Aqua' reveals that each song does stand out on it's own to some extent. The music here ranges from a neoclassical tour-de-force ('Arising Thunder') to beautiful, slower songs ('Lease Of Life' and 'Ashes') to the dark, progressive equivalent of a roundhouse kick ('Hollow.)
The two songs here that seem to stand out above their peers are also the heaviest and most technical; 'Arising Thunder' and 'Hollow.' The first of these; I listened to when the single was released. It stands out as being the best composed track on the album, and has some of the best neoclassical madness I've ever heard from a metal band. I fell in love with it from the first listen, and I would strongly suggest to anyone considering whether or not this album is for them; to check out 'Arising Thunder.' 'Hollow' on the other hand, was overlooked by me on the first few listens, but it undeniably set itself apart once I became more familar with the tracks. It is without a doubt, the darkest moment of the album, and at points even sounds a bit reminiscent of Dream Theater's 'Awake' record.
One thing that took a while to grow on me with this record were not so much the vocals themselves, but the way they were integrated into the music. With such a melodic voice, you might expect Edu Falaschi's melodic lines to instantly paint a memorable image in the mind. Instead, the use of vocals in the compositions seems to pale in comparison to the fantastic potential leased to the instruments. After several listens however (after the songs become familiar,) the vocal lines end up feeling like they work in the mix after all.
The band has stated that they wanted to make a classic with this album that their fans would reference them by in the years to come. While 'Aqua' is not a masterpiece and doesn't necessarily set the rest of the power metal world to shame, it does set itself apart from it's peers. Fantastic musicianship, some phenomenal tracks and an interesting concept make 'Aqua' out to be one of the band's better offerings, and a great album to dive into, should the style fit your tastes.
When I learned about “Aqua”, I began acting like a giddy fanboy, prancing about with my hands clapped to my head, emitting brief shrieks of joy every so often (not that much of an exaggeration either, if you ask my fiancee). You'll have to forgive my ridiculous posture, but Angra was one of the first bands that really got me into metal, and has never failed to release material that I have found consistently excellent. After “Aurora Consurgens” and the troubles with their manager, I had begun to despair, fearing that Angra had gone the way of bands like Lost Horizon and Wintersun. So you can imagine my ecstasy (and perhaps share it) when I learned that a new full length was being released in August.
Upon first listen, I was mildly underwhelmed. I of course, was fantasizing about a bombastic return to “Rebirth” era speed and glory. While I still hold hopes for an album like that someday, “Aqua” is indeed not such an undertaking. Actually, if anything, “Aqua” is even more mellow and thoughtful than ever before (At least for the modern era of Angra). I've heard it claimed both that “Aqua” is a thematic album based on water, and instead a concept album based on “The Tempest”, the former seems more apt to me. The band themselves state that water is the inspiration for the album, and from the stormy heights to the serene depths, the analogy is a striking one.
After the obligatory but not unpleasant short intro piece, “Arising Thunder” kicks off the album in true Angra fashion. While perhaps a bit sparser vocally and instrumentally, this track is an exemplary piece of Angra's work. It is the liveliest and quickest-paced song on the album, and sits pretty well as the first full-length composition (the storm, after which there is peace, if you like), while setting the stage for the reminder of this very aquatic and progressively flavored album.
Now, power/prog isn't anything new for Angra, but they're breaking new ground here for themselves, moving beyond their past two efforts. They continue to grow in this direction, and manage continuously to become stronger songwriters while moving away from conventional power metal. Songs like “Rage of the Waters”, “Spirit of the Air”, and “Hollow” illustrate just how brilliantly the band can execute complex and well-written songs while maintaining the accessibility and wonderfully memorable solos and vocals that have become their hallmarks. As always, touches of folky percussion and Brazilian tonality creep into the recordings from time to time. Along with the ever-impressive guitar talent of Bittencourt and Loureiro, this makes for a very technically sharp album, one of the best I've seen this year.
It's a testament to Angra's ability that they're able to continuously float away from the kind of metal that I and others claim to be our favorite, while keeping us hooked completely. I refuse to give a full track-by track of “Aqua”, but the songs are all good, while many rise further above that. Better people than I will give you a track-by-track, and I won't waste your time with my occasionally redundant writing. For now, suffice to say that “Aqua” is one of the best metal releases of the year, regardless of genre. It is deep and continuously fresh, profoundly energizing, and brings the band instantly up to form. It's not quite on par with “Rebirth”, but it's getting there.
Originally reviewed for www.blackwindmetal.blogspot.com
Mixing power metal with progressive elements is nothing new for Angra. They have been doing it during their whole career and I highly doubt they will cease at it. Ever since "Rebirth" and with each album they have entered much more into the prog kingdom. With "Temple of Shadows" they took a chance at creating a nicely done concept album, and they did quite well, even though after the albums "climax" it was just too boring. Then, "Aurora Consurgens" came up even more into the progressive kingdom, also having somewhat of a concept in which it explores the human mind. It was good as well, since the songs resembled quite nicely what the lyrics expressed, but it could be noticed to lack some energy or effort. Now, they created "Aqua", let's see what's up with it.
As said earlier, Angra expores more the progressive waters (yeah, waters-aqua, you get the point) with each album. This album is musically quite similar to the one before it, "Aurora Consurgens". As always, the guitars are very, very heavy, distorted and at times they can become erratic. This is a heavy element in their progressive side since it tends to help at restarting the melodic (or harmonic) direction. Angra is one of the few bands of which I can say that their drumming is actually original. Confessiori (and Priester whenever he was the drummer) has always known how to keep the things interesting; where to add certain double bass pedals, or some drum rolls on the toms. It is pretty hard to explain a rhythm of his, again, here is the progressiveness of the band. At other times he does play some standard backing rhythms, which would apply more to their progressive side. Both Loureiro and Bittencourt's solos are not as strong as they were before. Indeed, they are good, the problem is that at times they may pass without being noticed since there is nothing way too impressive in them. One of the points "Aqua" focuses on is in the vocals. Everything in the album seems to be surrounding Edu, probably because of the importance of the lyrics. His voice is back to be the way it was in Rebirth, just as sharp and powerful.
Now, there is one part of the album that I have not described yet, which by the way is the problem in it. This is the bass. I consider Felipe Andreoli to be an extremelly skilled and talented bass player. The basslines in the album are overwhelming, just way too great and all. There are also some bass solos (as always) that don't cease to amaze, and there is also some harmonization with the guitars. You may be wondering what is the problem, right? The problem is incidentally that the basslines are too great. The bass is set really, really loud in the mix, at times so loud that it easily blends up with the guitars and makes the sound way to heavy and out of context according to the vocals. It makes listening to other instruments difficult. Most of the time, I would say that a loud bass is something good, but this is just abusing the limits.
About the most standing out tracks, I would consider these to be "Arising Thunder", "Ashes" and "Lease of Life". By chance, "Arising Thunder" reminds me to the previous albums as it shows full power in this song and, since it is the first actual song in the album (if discarding "Viderunt Te Aquae", for it isn't a full song) and one is not too tired of listening to the whole album. The song is fast and melodic, like any other power metal song, which is another good point for the song. "Ashes" is a quite calm song all along. It is prety relaxing because there isn't all that bass-guitar blending, instead we have some nice acoustic (or clean) guitars, an uplifting solo and some really inspiring lyrics. "Lease of Life" is my favorite song in the album. It is almost fully played with some piano backing up Edu's singing. As you can imagine, yes, it is yet another slow song, even possible to say a ballad. The remixed version of the song (bonus track if it is that you can't find it) is even better in my opinion since there is less noise in it.
To conclude finally (...) I must say this is a pretty good effort by Angra. If it wasn't by certain mix problems, it would be much stronger than it is. If you ask me whether you should buy it or not, I would say yes. It works good for new listeners of the band because if they listen to other albums the will be more amazed than they are with this one, and for fans, well, it is a full length studio album, so it is basically a must.
Highlights: "Arising Thunder", "A Monster in Her Eyes", "Weakness of a Man", "Ashes", "Lease of Life".
What are we going to do with Angra? I don’t really enjoy their early material that much – sure it’s very well written, and technically sound at that, but it has not yet engaged me and the vocals of then-frontman Matos rub me the wrong way. Temple of Shadows was good but held back by a lot of things that made it hard to listen to all the way through – for instance, it was fruity as hell, and overloaded with too many ideas. Aurora Consurgens fixed those problems and delivered a great album of modernized power metal. But I still thought they could do better…and hence, Aqua.
This album is just really awesome. It’s proggy and dense – much moreso than anything else they’ve ever done. This is not the kind of album that you would expect after hearing Temple of Shadows alone, and for that I think this is getting a lot of unwarranted bad press from the metal community. In reality this is the sound they seem to have been shooting for all along. Where on Temple they just tossed random elements into a melting pot and hoped it came out with some good hooks – succeeding only half the time – on Aqua, they condense their rumbling guitars, folksy melodies and epic vocal lines into full-throttle progressive metal without any apologies.
The restraint on this album is just maddening, as when you think the song might explode into a high-flying chorus or screaming climax…it doesn’t. And that’s what’s so good about it – they’ve managed to construct a bunch of tunes that never go for the obvious hook, rather choosing to try for a new twist – most of the time it works really well. Edu Falaschi’s vocals are reigned in to a deeper, darker intonation than he’s ever had, and his vocal melodies are just superb on here. They’re slow-burning growers, but once they hit you, they really hit you, as on “Hollow” or “A Monster in Her Eyes.” “Weakness of a Man” is just great with this, too.
The guitars are always heavy and rhythmic, not always going for a straight-ahead metal attack, but always being complex and riveting – check out the blistering “Awake From Darkness” or the more straight-ahead power metal cruiser “Arising Thunder.” There are some subtle folk elements on a few tracks like the excellent “Lease of Life” and the crushing, searing “Weakness of a Man,” and a lot of slow, ballad-esque moments that allow Falaschi to stretch out his pipes and the guitarists to cook out some more emotive moments. “A Monster in Her Eyes” is absolutely stunning in this regard.
Nothing on here is really done in a way you’d expect, and since the hooks are so angular and fresh, the songs never wear out their welcome, always sounding cool and innovative. There is a somber twinge to the melodies here at times, and at others, an angry, wrathful one, making this album sound somewhat like a journey through the raging, untamed wilderness – if not for the pristine sense of refinement in the songwriting, that is. With Aqua the band eschews more and more of what held them back in the early days and also brings closer the themes and motifs they always wanted to get down in their lyrics and atmosphere. This album is progressive, raw, subtle and a huge grower if there ever was one, revealing new layers with each spin. Angra has never sounded better.
It’s all about the concept.
The Brazilian giants of power-progressive metal are finally back after 4 years of absence, this time the line up didn’t change with exeption of the phenomenal Aquiles Priester for many one of the best drummers around, In his place we got the comeback of Ricardo Montessori. I was expectant of what the enormous duo (Kiko Loureiro and Rafae Bittencourt) would come up with since their compositions always tops up the following releases being one of the few bands that can actually experiment with all sorts of musical fusions and incorporating different instruments to their music without failing in the intent.
As I see it, this is the record where the band master the concept album , completing what they had done with Aurora Consurgens and Temple of Shadows. In this album the lyrics and the music match perfectly and works towards the same topic, In this case inspired by The Tempest of William Shakespeare , Overall the album features slower tempos and really not doing anything new on the approach to songwriting , although managing space for experimenting as typical versatile and complex. Complex, yes we have the intrincate arrangements we are are used to listen from the band, however, I found this one to be a slow grower like Holy Land, you have to go over the whole CD before getting hooked, most of the songs are not straightforward-in your-face power metal-like Fireworks or Temple of Hate, this is probably the weakest point on the record and this is why I won’t rate this album more than 93%, however, heavy metal of the highest quality can be expected, I’m not implying this is a stepdown just a slow grower, there are defenetly some great classic songs to add to the collection such as “Rage of the waters”, “Hollow” and “A monster in her eyes” personally some of my picks.
As usual on Angra’s realeases there is variety on the songwriting, overall this album is softer than previews ones but of course we also have fast heavy fucking riffs as well, the acoustic passages are great in song like “spirit of the air” the violin and the guitar works perfectly with the voice. One of my favorite things about this album is how the band melts progressive metal ala Dream Theater with their trademark power metal sound although it reminds me in some parts of blind guardian in the 90s. This album in particular is more vocal orientated than other works angra has done in a way the songs are giving emphasys to catchy choruses instead of their usual long guitar dueling I would point Edu Falaschi’s job as a highlight of the album, the vocal-driven ballads are great.
Aqua is probably the softer release of Angra to date . however, it is a great album because of the complex arrangaments and songwriting, smart melodic parts, Heavy riffs and the solos which I would describe as spectacular. This is probably not an album to grab new audiences, but long-time fans of the band would find a solid and very enjoyable release.