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Christmas 2006, and this was just about the best present under my tree - sod the Nintendo Wii, I had Aurora Consurgens. What an awesome day, turkey, crackers, and Angra's then new album.
Providing more entertainment than the very coolest of Lego models, Aurora Consurgens rarely left my CD player for a good year, probably more. I remember in the lead up to that years festive period, I'd bought the latest issue of PowerPlay (a great print magazine in the UK) and it came with a CD. Little did I know that CD housed an absolute leviathan in "The Course of Nature" (cue the "Scanners" head explosion).
"The Course of Nature" sports pure bad-assery, I played this so loud on my headphones whilst cruising the bus one day, I remember a dude sitting in front of me, he turned around and gave me the medusa stare, then promptly vacated his position and sat as far away from me as humanly possible. That alone should be proof of the awesome held in this tracks four and a half minutes, the whole middle part is actually too insane. Sick riffage, sick guitar solos (and I mean SICK) was this really the guys who gave us "Millienium Sun"?
Life story aside, Aurora Consurgens sees Angra at their most progressive, not to mention their most technical, and in places quite dark. In fact, this also happens to be their heaviest offering (as far as progressive power metal goes). At ten tracks this is a far more digestible effort than previous album Temple of Shadows and I feel a superior effort too.
Tracks such as "The Voice Commanding You", "Window to Nowhere" and the insane "Salvation Suicide" show the Angra we've come to know and love, the latter of these tracks show the band at their technical peak. The guitar solos in this song are among the most impressive I've heard, and shred guitar fans would do well to check this song out.
Tracks such as the smooth "Passing By" and the masterful "Ego Painted Grey" show Angra's more progressive side, both excellent tracks with a lot of dynamic and depth to them. I touched on the guitar solos before, but I just have to say that on Aurora Consurgens Kiko and Rafael put forth the performance of their careers, it simply has to be heard to be believed.
There isn't a moment wasted here, even the ballads are awesome. Another stunning release from Angra who can do no wrong. Some of the best progressive power metal you'll ever hear.
Aurora Consurgens, Angra's sixth full-length effort and third with Edu Falaschi, is one that I've heard slandered a great many times. Even myself preferring both Rebirth and Temple of Shadows, I have perhaps given it a bad name in the past. I received this album a little more than a year after it came out, and at the time I recall thinking that it was so dull compared to the aforementioned efforts, as well as seeming like the band had moved into slightly more commercially acceptable territory. Now, after the release of the mellow but sublime Aqua, I can look back upon my foolishness. This is, after all, Angra: the increasingly proggy giant of power metal that it is. On Aurora Consurgens, we behold again the same sleek and mighty machine, if just a bit stripped down.
In true Angra fashion, the opening track is rather explosive. However, it takes a noticeably native percussive turn (a la "Holy Wars") in its introduction. One thing is very clear as the initial tracks ("The Course Of Nature" and "The Voice Commanding You") break over the listener: Angra is continuing their evolution from lighter, neoclassical, and slightly folky power metal to a deeper, heavy, and more mature sound. Dealing with psychological disorders, depression, and suicide, the lyrical content is considerably darker and may come as a bit of a shock, especially to Matos-era Angra fans. Despite the dissimilarity in sound, this almost reminds me of Dream Theater at times in this respect, as well as the fact that Angra seems to occasionally borrow a riff or extended rhythmic motive from said band. Whether this is an intentional homage or merely a coincidence is only mine to speculate.
Like Temple of Shadows, Aurora Consurgens carries its surge through the first half of the album, but seems to lose a bit of its creative steam about halfway through. For me, this occurs after "Salvation Suicide", and while the difference isn't great, it somehow feels like Angra running at 90% rather than full tilt. This may be imperceptible or perhaps not true at all for others, but this seems to me to be a consistent but minor flaw in the band's post Rebirth releases (perhaps it's just the ordering of the songs). The exception here being the brief finale "Abandoned Fate", which is a plea for those suffering from mental disorders. More emotion seems to flow from this final track, however short, than from several of its recent predecessors combined
Naturally, 90% for Angra is still better than anything a great deal of bands have to offer, especially in the department of delightfully intricate and interwoven guitar lines. Loureiro and Bittencourt remain one of my very favorite guitar duos to this day, and this release continues to exemplify just how well they seem to supplement each other and become greater than the sum of their (admittedly impressive) parts. Songs like "Salvation Suicide" and "The Voice Commanding You", despite Falaschi's best efforts, are unmistakably born aloft by the hummingbird-like pulse of some of the best twin guitar work the metal world has ever witnessed. Falaschi, on the other hand, is allowed plenty of opportunities to stand forth on this work. Slower tunes like "Breaking Ties" and "Abandoned Fate" allow him to showcase his gentler side, while the quicker tunes showcase his impressive lungs. It should be noted that Aurora Consurgens sees Edu attempting to become a more diverse singer, and making great strides at that. This change develops considerably further in 2010's Aqua as well.
When I revisited this album in depth, I was thinking of it as relatively weak for Angra. However, my revisitation has ultimately proved to me that even on a darker, less consistent endeavor, the band that I know and love is able to excel and evolve in ways that I simply hadn't noticed at first. However, despite the guitar work being second to none, I feel that the heavier and darker direction makes this a less unique and exceptional effort compared to the band's other work. This being personal taste, I can fully understand and respect many other critic's thoughts as this being one of the band's most mature, straightforward, and best releases. Regardless, Aurora Consurgens, like all of Angra's material, ought not to be lacking from the library of any that would call themselves a power/prog enthusiast.
Originally written for www.blackwindmetal.blogspot.com/
There is good reason why Angra is well-respected by the power metal community. Their music has spanned several different styles throughout their career: the pure power metal of Angels Cry, the ambitious progressive power/folk metal of Holy Land, and the even more ambitious progressive power metal of Temple of Shadows. Two singers have taken the mike: Andre Matos was a clear high tenor while Edu Falaschi is lower and grittier - and thus the Edu era has been heavier overall. The most constant elements of these Brazilians' sound have been a profound sense of their regional identity...and being on top of the power metal camp.
For Aurora Consurgens, Angra have taken yet another left turn: they dive into the pool of more visceral, aggressive classic metal, sometimes crossing into thrash territory. The first thing the listener notices after the folkish intro to The Course of Nature is that this album is HEAVY - the rhythm guitar tone, for one, is absolutely crushing, and the production is flawless. It sounds as if the music is trapped within its walls, straining to get out - broken, tired, and beaten. The whole band has never sounded this intense before, and I don't think Angra will be able to reach this level of adrenaline again. For a band that once prided itself on its less heavy, more neo-classical approach to the genre - so much so that Andre hit the road when his bandmates wanted to crank the heaviness up - the ability to sound so much at home on the heaviest end of the power metal spectrum is proof that Angra deserves their crown.
How did they do it? The answer is that Angra built Aurora Consurgens from the ground up as an album where ample doses of heavy guitars are not unnecessary, but play a vital role in telling the album's story. Those familiar with the work of Carl Jung may recall the Aurora Consurgens: it was supposedly published by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 1400s, and its treatise on alchemy was used by the famed psychiatrist to understand the different states of mind through dreams. This is exactly what Angra have just done here, through their collected stories of different types of mental disorders and afflictions: suicidal tendencies, bipolar disorder, sociopathy, etc. Some of these topics are quite disturbing at times, even more so when given Angra's profound sense of realism in their art.
From the beginning, they capture the listener with their trademark folk arrangements and transport them into the jungle, where everything is wild and nothing will come out of unchanged. While the Angra trademarks of folk intrusions, often quite catchy choruses, and neo-classical interludes are still palpably intact, they are only pockets of safety in this wild jungle of metal. Guitarists Kiko and Rafael plain shred for a respectable duration of Aurora Consurgens, with their soloing technique edging into more dissonant realms. The instrumental passage of Ego Painted Grey contains wild, uncontrolled solos, harsh chugging riffs, and buzzsaw drumming...followed by a terrifying scream from behind the mix as the song's main theme returns. Mainstream notions? Just because Anne Rice is fairly mainstream doesn't mean her books aren't creepy anymore...
Vocalist Edu Falaschi also adopts a more straightforward technique, largely setting the higher notes aside for the climaxes and allowing the occasional harsher vocal techniques and his distinctive Brazilian accent to speak for the wounded, troubled characters within these ten stories. Felipe Andreoli lends his also more straightforward bass work best to the less heavy sections of Aurora Consurgens, but proves himself well adept at gluing the guitars together when they are at full bore. Drummer Aquiles Priester, in his last album with Angra, proves himself one of the best skinsmen in power metal, able to do it all: classic power metal runs, profuse proggier sections and even some tribal percussion to supplement his general preference for the louder stuff.
At the other extreme, the slower passages prove to be equally important to the album's thematic development. The lack of sound is just as valuable as sound itself in dynamics, and the buildup from quiet, blank beginnings to the metal-fest is equally vital to Ego Painted Grey. Similarly impressive softer sections include the midsection of Window to Nowhere and the majority of length-leader So Near So Far, which is the largest reservoir of the memories of the good old days - to both Angra's fans and the characters Edu plays so well. Last but not least is the final song, Abandoned Fate. The momentum from the rest of the album actually makes this acoustic piece sound heavy, and with their muted descent into obscurity and nothingness, the lyrics match:
"Claim for pain
Was it all in vain?
New sad days to come
Many smiles we've done
In an abandoned fate..."
In only three minutes, this piece encourages us not to ignore those who are suffering from these mental disorders, because one day it will be too late to help those like this unfortunate. It is a poignant, depressive, but entirely suitable closer.
Above all, what makes Angra one of my ten favorite bands is their ability to conjure a unique cultural experience out of their music. Most of my other favorites have all done this themselves: Orphaned Land, Kekal and Myrath also give me their unmistakable cultural imprints when listening to any of their albums. Not all the best music comes from the richest countries with the most musical knowledge: music is, above all, an expression of emotion, and no matter where you're from, if you don't have the emotion, you pretty much cannot make good music.
Although many great musicians can create emotion from music, the truly great artists create music from emotion. Constructed in this manner, everything that makes music timeless will flow naturally from the artist to the audience. Aurora Consurgens is a case in point.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic. I've moved a previous review from here over to there.)
This band of Brazilian crusaders of Power Metal have been slagging it out since the very early 90s, and since they have a new album supposedly due out this year, I’ve decided to review some of their stuff. From what I can tell, they’ve actually been fairly consistent throughout their career, and although Aurora Consurgens, which is a half-concept album about various mental disorders, is much different sonically from their early works, they seem to have been pretty good about keeping energetic and creative, and sticking to their unique brand of Power Metal – somewhat like Helloween if they were run through a kaleidoscope and came out with a whole new set of colors, both nationally – it’s about the most Brazilian sounding a band can get and still be completely metal – and musically.
I just really like this album. It’s a heavy, driving album of modernized Power Metal with depth and maturity to the songwriting and performances on all levels. Edu Falaschi intones something fierce, with his warbly Brazilian bellow carrying the listener on jettisoning metallic wings through ten tracks of melodious glory. The guitars are heavy and have multiple layers of complexity, with subtle hooks that seed themselves in your mind and grow without warning, until soon you are playing it every day. Every song is pretty intricate and heavy, with the Brazilian folk influences trimmed down enough to remain noticeable without overcrowding the music, like it sometimes did on their previous album Temple of Shadows. I liked it there, but honestly, even with the most bombastic form of music around, the best way to do some things is still in moderation, and that’s something this album has over its predecessor. It makes for all-around more memorable and tightly-woven songcraft.
Some people have confused the lack of neoclassical shredding and symphonic nonsense on this album for the band taking a more mainstream approach, but that isn’t true – what, is everyone forgetting that this is Power Metal? I mean, it’s not exactly some kind of underground discovery; bands in this genre get recognized a decent amount all the time, and it is not really a big deal for a band to write a few songs with more streamlined hooks than the more clustered melodic trappings of the faster songs they write – Angra included here, with tracks like the smooth “Passing By.” It isn’t like those bands with high, melodic neoclassical guitars and eight minute epics are that much more integral and underground than this. Just because it’s got a shorter number of and heavier guitars…it means nothing!
The guitars here are dark and seething with burning red anger, and the melodies have a tight intricacy to them. On the best songs here, like the moody “Ego Painted Grey,” with its boiling melodies that cook into a hell of a storm, the propulsive “Salvation Suicide” and the dense, climactic “Scream Your Heart Out,” Angra craft memorable hooks woven in layers of complexity – you don’t think they’re catchy at first, and they are hard to make out…but soon you can’t stop singing them, like I said. Other songs like the glass-breaking prog monolith “Window to Nowhere” and the moody Brazilian jaunt “So Near So Far” explode with innate songwriting power, whilst the more traditional opening tracks establish a good old Power Metal styled familiarity before the innovation kicks in.
But I still think they can do better than this. They can still reach some higher peak, and take their creativity even further than they have on their previous albums. The songs can always hit harder and maybe they could have written a little bit better ballad-type songs. Angra are a good band, and they continue to evolve like any band evidently will, and I think their true golden days have yet to come. Watch these guys.
Angra has been producing high quality Prog/Power Metal for well over a decade now and with their latest offering it just goes to show that some bands just get better with age and heavier apparently.
This album is over the top from start to finish its flawless. The production is excellent, the musicianship is unmatched, the only arguable flaw would be Edus’ vocals as they don’t seem to go as high as they did on ‘Rebirth’ or ‘Temple of Shadows’.
The guitars are the heaviest they’ve ever been, yet melodic and fast. They fill the album with intricate and complex melodies, all the while seemingly lessening the distortion to more of an overdriven rumble. The solos are ungodly and showcase the guitarists many influences. The bassist apparently has plenty of chops as well since the bass is masterfully done and keeps the drums in line. The drums are especially well done and do a mind altering job of always keeping things mixed up. Its particularly refreshing to hear a drummer that isn’t just flooding his feet through the entire mix.
The lyrics aren’t as overtly christian as they have been on prior releases (which depending on your view point(s) is a nice change of pace). The vocals aren’t as all over the place either, this can lead one to a few different conclusions; one that Edu is loosing his voice, two that he is getting lazy, or three he just wanted to keep it simple on this cd. Again, depending on your view this could be considered a nice change of pace as most Prog and Power/Prog Metal singers tend to wail continually on any/every song they release, Edu doesn’t.
This album is by far the bands finest and heaviest release. It’s also not a bad starting place for someone new to the band. Highly recommended band and cd!!
Branching off the path that they had been taking, and heading down a distinctly more progressive road, Angra still manage to deliver a unique and remarkable album.
From the lyrics about various mental afflictions, to an increased exploitation of mock-symphonic atmospheric, at times trippy keyboards, it's clear to see that the lean toward a more progressive sound was deliberate.
On the drums, the awesome Aquiles still plays South American influenced intricate beats with finesse that is hard to rival. Bassist Felipe still exhibits his ability to stand apart, stand alone, and thump at his bass with grace enough to make even a skilled guitarist (or anyone that plays a smaller stringed instrument) fume. Edu delivers another solid performance - his voice is one that's distinct, but he is more well suited for softer singing, rather than the wailing. To say that lead guitarist Kiko runs circles around most guitarists would be a gross understatement.
The songs are all very well written, with a great sense of progression and a purpose in the structure - a lot of time was put into making sure these songs got all the fat trimmed off of them, and it shows.
There are a couple songs that this album would be better off without (Passing By and Breaking Ties). That is really the only thing I'm taking points off for.
To say that this album is a disappointment is being very unrealistic. To think that Angra would immediately, if ever, surpass the sheer brilliance of Temple of Shadows, is just not realistic. This is a must, unless you honestly believe that Angra would put out another Temple of Shadows.
After the landmark release of Temple of Shadows in 2004, Angra's notoriety in the power metal world has skyrocketed, leaving everyone eagerly anticipating their 2006 release, Aurora Consurgens. Unfortunately, while this album is a true Angra release and a good album, for anyone expecting an album on the level of ToS, they will be sorely disappointed.
Aurora Consurgens is yet another Angra album inspired by the history of Catholicism, focusing on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas concerning mental illness and madness. As before, the content is translated beautifully to vocals and lyrics and makes for a thoughtful read.
From the opening track, "The Course of Nature," it is evident Angra has opted for a more mainstream approach to their brand of power metal this time around, leaning toward more traditional song structures. Those looking for swift technical guitar work from Kiko will not be disappointed by tracks such as "The Course of Nature," "The Voice Commanding You," and "Ego Painted Grey." Yet again, Edu also delivers rich, emotive vocals that we all know and love from their previous release.
Angra seems to almost have all together abondoned their rich assortment of instruments from previous albums for more electronic sounds dispersed throughout the songs. Unfortunately, it does not seem that they are placed with the meticulous care that each distinct sound in ToS seems to possess. Additionally, while this album follows the fast beginning with a slower middle pattern, the slower songs don't possess the emotion that songs like "Morning Star" from ToS plant in our minds, and besides a memorable chorus or two and a few decent riffs, they are nothing more than good power metal songs.
Kiko's inventive guitar work also seems less focused than their previous album, which leaves the songs to not be as coherently driven along. Even though there is a blistering pace present in the beginning of the album, songs from this album cannot surpass the watermark of "Spread you Fire" for a power metal anthem, nor can they trounce "Angels and Demons" for the sonic pleasure that is the handiwork of Kiko.
This album definitely possesses some memorable solos, powerful vocals courtesy of Edu, and a coherent but strikingly sorrowful theme. It also sports excellent production that gives us nice wailing guitars as well as crunchy riffs, and of course, solid drumming to boot. Their international influence does peak through in the Arabian-esque intro of "So Near, so Far." Yet, it seems to be in big brother envy of their previous album, where the consensus was to modify previous form by eliminating some of the progressive tendencies for more traditional song structures. For many others, this may spell disaster, but for Angra, it earns them a spot less than a 90%. It should also be noted that if ToS never happened, this will still be step forward for the power metal monolith from their reincarnation album, Rebirth as it delivers a matured voice from Edu and more stimulating song writing and performances courtesy of Kiko.
As such, this album is still recommended for another pleasing performance from Edu, a dual-guitar attack still to be envied, and songwriting that will still serve to make most of power metal hopefuls jealous, even though some may find themselves wanting as they progress to later songs in the album.
Course of Nature, The Voice Commanding You, Ego Painted Grey
I picked up this album with quite high expectations. After listening to Temple of Shadows, which is arguably one of the best Prog./Power metal albums out there, I expected Aurora Consurgens to be just as good if not better. Sadly, this was not the case.
I’ll start out with the “good” parts. Now the musicianship is, of course, amazing ass usual. Loureiro and Bittencourt’s dual guitar attack while leave you stunned. Andreoli’s virtuosity on bass is also to be noted. Songs like “Ego Painted Grey” are true to power metal while a song like “Scream Your Heart Out” will remind you that these guys can be tastefully progressive. The lyrical themes, even though they’re slightly depressing, are creative and clever.
Sadly, some negatives on this album are present. It seemed to me that Angra tried to approach this album with a more mainstream sound. This is not necessarily a bad thing though. They have a more user-friendly sound but their musicianship is still at 100%. My biggest complain about this album is Falaschi’s voice. It’s just too low for my liking. I happen to prefer the soaring vocals found on Rebirth. The last complain I have is some of the odd effects used. This is most annoying during Bittencourt’s solo on “The Course of Nature” as you can hear some sort of high-pitched sound in the background.
Overall, if you like Angra, you’ll like this album. The band certainly won’t be losing any fans, but I don’t think this is going to stun any new fan as it would if they had listened to Temple of Shadows first. Hopefully, Temple of Shadows wasn’t Angra’s Operation: Mincrime.
Angra’s 3rd album since its rebirth and it keeps getting better! ‘Aurora Consurgens’ undoubtedly contains their fastest, heaviest, and most impressive material to date.
Musically you are typically subjected to Angra’s trademark blazing guitar work, intricate drumming, moulded together with Eduardo Falaschi’s unique vocals. Lyrically you are taken on a loosely conceptual journey into the dark recesses of a mind overtaken by mental illness - killer stuff!
The sheer speed of the track ‘The Voice Commanding You’ will cause you to turn the volume knob hard-right. On the other hand, ‘So Near So Far’ with its Middle Eastern-style intro, displays Angra’s progressive nuances.
If the album ‘Rebirth’ caught your attention and ‘Temple of Shadows’ increased the volume, you certainly won’t be disappointed by ‘Aurora Consurgens’. Falaschi and company have yet again sealed their position as one of the leading acts in the Power Metal genre.