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Quality Brazilian PM. - 85%

Andromeda_Unchained, November 29th, 2011

Fireworks was the last album to feature the awesome line-up of vocalist André Matos, guitarists Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt, bass player Luis Mariutti, and drummer Ricardo Confessori (who I'm pleased to say is back in Angra). After this release all would depart but resident shredders Kiko and Rafael – the others guys went to form the really cool Shaman. One of the more striking factors about Fireworks is that Angra would never release another album of its ilk. Previous release Holy Land was an amazing blend of metal and traditional Brazilian/Latino music, embracing their progressive side and creating an album for the ages. Fireworks however is more of a straight-ahead metal album, which despite lacking the originality of Holy Land bears both ingenuity and accessibility. Also worth noting is the year of Fireworks release, 1998. That year would see acts such as Hammerfall and Stratovarius take their places in (re)defining the European Power Metal scene, Gamma Ray hit their stride and Helloween began to be taken seriously again. A very good time for the Power Metal scene, where the majority of the acts mentioned would go on to release their best. It was in this time where acts were striving to create the best material possible, a time with no set formula. What a perfect time for five guys from Brazil to show the Europeans their spin on things.

Equipped with the stupendous vocals of André Matos and his immense range, vocally Fireworks is a treat for the ears. Transcending octaves and ranging from soft to powerful, it's not hard to see how good this guy is – "Paradise" and "Gentle Change" are my personal highlights for vocal performance here. Fireworks features many a scorcher to soar through your speakers with an abundance of sweet riffs. The guitar work of Kiko and Rafael is as ever incredible – not as flashy as we come to expect in recent years, but fantastic nonetheless. Another enjoyable factor on this release is that there isn't one spot of filler in sight, each of the tracks bring something to the table. There's some really interesting stuff on offer with Fireworks, a personal favorite of mine is the awesome "Petrified Eyes". Starting with a really chill intro reminiscent of Joe Satriani circa Flying in a Blue Dream, we're then led nicely into some killer riffage. "Metal Icarus" is a sublime Power Metal number, with some scorching lead-work complemented with fantastic vocals. "Extreme Dream" is another good cruncher – again featuring some fiery guitars. Surprisingly enough another personal highlight comes in the form of the humble "Gentle Change", with the cultural instrumental the track is a sheer delight to listen to.

Really Angra were on their A-game with this release. Similar magic would be created with the first Shaman release, but in all honesty I prefer this one a little more. Fortunately Angra would rise from the ashes and lynch us with the superlative Rebirth, catapulting them into the Power Metal premier league. Overall Fireworks is an interesting piece of metal history showing mature songwriting and originality in a genre that would later be plagued with copycats and unoriginality. This should be a no-brainer for Angra fans and certainly deserves a place in the collection of any Power Metal aficionado. Recommended

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

The (relative) low point. - 70%

AnalogKid, November 8th, 2011

Fireworks is the third full-length effort from Angra, and their last with original frontman Andre Matos. Stylistically, it is also a bit different, tending to walk on the progressive side of the line, placing power metal a close second save for a few notable songs. Oddly, Fireworks is not the explosive, bombastic album that you might expect it to be. Instead, it’s a colorful blend of instrumentation and tempos that shows off the band’s ability to stray from their established norms. In this way, I almost consider it the spiritual predecessor to the band’s 2010 release Aqua.

Fireworks is full of Angra’s little “progisms” that are the band’s subtle signature. Signed instrumentally by Loureiro and Bittencourt, brief guitar tangents punctuate the gradual, unhurried flow of the album, but do not interrupt it. While in comparison to most other Angra albums, Fireworks is generally less confined in the guitar department, and pure technical prowess is set on the back burner, the duo lend their skills instead to sheer atmosphere. Instead of a constant barrage, the guitar assaults are quick concise bursts. This isn’t a strict rule however, as they get bored a few songs in and break into “Metal Icarus”, a comparative shredfest that breaks up the slow paced ramble for a few minutes.

If I say that Fireworks is the least “power metal” of all Angra’s albums, it is also probably the least melodic, at least in the sense of grand choruses and powerful singing. It is no secret that I prefer Edu Falaschi considerably to Andre Matos, and with the vocals in the forefront of this album and the lack of particularly striking choruses, Matos’s slurred sighing tends to get on my nerves and knock my enjoyment down a few notches. Cruel as it may be to say, I believe his replacement may have been the kindest thing that ever happened for this band.

A few songs deserve special mention here. “Wings Of Reality” is the token speedy Angra opener, and a good song, though a bit weak by the band’s previous standards. I find “Lisbon” to be a great slower effort, featuring something of a unique sound on this album, which otherwise evidences little of the band’s signature Brazilian flavor. The title track features a lackadaisical introduction which gives way to an adventurous chorus and a questing bridge section which break up the relatively uninteresting verses. With a sharp, attention-grabbing introduction, “Extreme Dream” at first looks to be a smoker before settling back into a relatively droll chorus. Despite this, it does boast some excellent guitar work. “Speed” bears its name well, and is indeed a portent of things to come, but like much of the rest of the material here, it’s not quite what we know the band is capable of.

Fireworks is the Angra album that’s hardest to jump up and down about because of its inconsistencies, but it still remains a high-quality work that is indispensable for fans of the band. Standing against the group’s other material, it is underwhelming due to its different level of melodicism. In this end, this is an explorative work for a group that pointedly changed directions a few short years later. Interesting and worthwhile, but not essential.

Originally written for blackwindmetal.com/

A Slow-Grower - 88%

Braxil, July 13th, 2007

'Fireworks' was an album that I hated the first time I heard it. I had grown to love the sound of the previous two releases, Holy Land and Angels Cry, and from the very first note of "Wings of Reality", I could sense something had changed.

Firstly, the production on this album is awful. How Chris Tsangarides keeps getting work producing albums is beyond me. The band also was undergoing many internal problems at the time, which makes itself evident at more than one point in the album, and is what I feel is keeping this from being a truly great release. This is however, an excellent album in the Angra catalog, and should not be glossed over by fans of the band as it is second only to their first two albums.

"Wings of Reality", the opener, is a Matos-penned track that starts off in a fairly abrupt manner but soon turns into a classic Angra number with soaring vocal sections and a piano interlude. Parts of the orchestra that Angra used on this album can also be seen here, and add a nice touch.

"Petrified Eyes" is one of the strangest songs on the cd, with a very unconventional clean guitar intro that is enough to really put a first-time listener off. As the song picks up, however, it features memorable riffs and melodies, and is one of the best songs on the album.

"Lisbon" is the single for this album, and is without a doubt the most accessible of the songs on here. It features heavy use of the orchestra, and takes the form of a epic, sweeping pseudo-ballad that quickly became a fan favorite. I however think that there are better songs on the cd, but Lisbon remains a very catchy and well-written song.

"Metal Icarus" is perhaps the heaviest song on here, starting off with an awesome harmonized guitar intro from the great duo Loureiro and Bittencourt. The song features an interesting bridge and chorus, but towards the end it seems to get overly repetitive. Still one of the better songs on the cd to start with for a first-time listener.

"Paradise" is a rather divisive track among fans; some feel it's a classic, and some feel differently. I personally don't much care for the riff, and the guitar part during the verses seems overly slow and plodding. The song does have its merits though, and features great vocal work from Matos during the chorus.

"Mystery Machine" is perhaps the most straightforward song on here, but it is definitely a great one. It starts off with a complex harmonized guitar riff with intricate drum work reminiscent of the band's best moments, then continues on into a great verse and chorus. The vocal performance here is especially great.

"Fireworks", the title track, is perhaps one of the less-interesting songs on here. Matos sings with plenty of emotion and conviction, but the songwriting isn't strong enough for this one to end up as a classic.

"Extreme Dream" is a fast-paced song with some interesting work from the guitar duo, but overall is the most forgettable song on the album. Not much to say about this one.

"Gentle Change" is an absolutely beautiful ballad, and listening to it keeping in mind that it's about the impending break-up of the band, is a moving experience. This isn't a very 'metal' song at all, but definitely one of the best songs on this album and the entire Angra catalog.

"Speed" is the album closer, and is the most similar to the band's previous works. It's a fast, heavy song in the vein of Z.I.T.O. and features plenty of shredding guitar work and an impressive scream by Matos at the end of the song, which sadly marked the end of not only a terrific album but one of the best bands ever to come out of the metal genre in recent years.

Overall, this is not the Angra album to start with, but for someone who's already developed an appreciation for the band, this is not an album to be ignored or forgotten. "Angels Cry" is the album that will get you hooked, "Holy Land" is the band's undeniable height, and "Fireworks" is the album that will take you effort to appreciate, but it is truly a rewarding experience.

P.S: If you can find the bonus track, "Rainy Nights", it's an interesting ballad that shows the band going in a more pop direction, but is very much worth listening to.

The best from Angra to date - 96%

arkbath, December 8th, 2004

Musical exploration… that’s how Fireworks can be described. Angra keeps moving and evolving from a power metal band that caused sensation to a mature band that deserves to be well-known. I haven’t heard their latest release Temple of Shadows, but since for me Rebirth was a step back on their career I must say that Fireworks is their best album to date. There are still the typical classical arrangements featured on past albums, but the addition of a real orchestra makes them stronger, giving the album more emotion, plus, the musical structures that Angra plays with are some kind of different stuff, leaving power metal behind, reaching prog and classic rock levels. Some of you might say that Angra is cheesy, and softer. Yeah, all right, but in terms of music that doesn’t mean that is bad or the worst thing on the world.

The opening track is not an intro as expected, is a full song called Wings of Reality, with a great work from all the members of the band: vocals, guitars and their solos, awesome drums, the bass, and the interlude driven by the orchestra is simply incredible. The single released for this album is Lisbon, a “ballad”, but it rocks, and the solos fit perfectly, making it one of the best songs Angra has ever made. Metal Icarus is one of the heaviest tunes, pleasing the metal fans, but I don’t think is the best heavy song from the album. It works better for me songs like Mystery Machine, Extreme Dream and the up-tempo Speed, emulating some Judas Priest or Helloween influences. Killer song. But beware, maybe the best song on the album could be Gentle Change, and of course, many may not like it, but it’s a ballad. Even though is the perfect instrument to show how talented musicians are these guys. Latin percussions and a weird but enjoyable acoustic guitar arpeggio opens, with a mellow voice from Matos I have hardly listen before. The piano is just too rhythmic instead of being the main instrument, but the Latin feeling can be heard on its lines, until it takes the lead on the break up, making the song a little bit darker. Guitars don’t show a lot on this, they’re just the harmonic part, but what really must be noticed is the great work that Ricardo Confessori makes with the drums. I just don’t know how a man can play those patterns without sounding as difficult as they are but getting a smooth feeling with them.

The best from Fireworks: the melodies in general, the guitar solos (the intro on Petrified eyes sounds like light part of Satriani’s style) and the effort reflected on every song. You must have this album, not only if you are a fan of Angra, but a music fan.

Decent album with some occasional faster tracks. - 76%

Reaper, August 14th, 2004

Fireworks is a fun album. It was the first occurrence in which I heard Angra’s music. The first thing that I noticed was that this album does have a bit of a blandish sound to it; therefore it’s not for the typical Metalhead. Certain songs, such as “Metal Icarus,” “Extreme Dream” and “Speed,” do stand out due to their faster tempos and more energetic approach. Other then these mentioned songs, the rest of the album is a bit blandish, but not necessarily in a terrible way.

Such songs as “Lisbon” and “Gentle Change,” are weaker and get a bit boring, although they do offer some nicely executed guitar solos throughout. The melodic approach taken by Angra is satisfactory, as it does offer a pleasurable listen therefore the relatively insipid atmosphere produced by certain songs, is not too big of a deal.

I especially liked the closing track, “Speed,” as it is probably the best song on the album, perhaps due to its speed and a more vigorous melody. It is adequately filled with fast guitar solos and colorful vocals. In fact most of the vocals on the album are vibrant with the exception of a few songs. The vocals are not the problem that I am having with this album; it’s the non-memorable melodies of a few songs.

Overall the album is a very decent purchase. It does offer some really great songs; most notably the three that I have mentioned in paragraph one. Due to the increase in speed and overall liveliness of the melodies the songs are highlights for me. If you are looking for a relatively calmer album to listen to, with some occasional fast tracks and an overall enjoyable atmosphere than this is definitely the album for you. Others, who are looking for Helloween, or even Gamma Ray type Metal, look elsewhere.

Semi-progressive power metal - Nice! - 80%

Nightcrawler, June 26th, 2003

Now here's some interesting shit. It's a version of Keepers-era Helloween with loads of keyboards, progressive touches and constructions and occasional Latin overtones, and it's all done very tastefully, and creates a pretty unique and cool ride.

The album is based on mostly speed metal oriented riffs with a strong sense of upbeat melodies, and over it we have a lot of melodic keyboards that usually add alot to the feeling of the music but at times tends to feel a bit unnecessary.

The music goes on at very varying but generally rather high speed, with memorable and catchy, melodic vocal lines and some big power metal choruses. It goes through a lot of time and riff changes and loads of excellent Helloween-styled solos, and tends to move into rather progressive territory at times with occasional highlighted keyboards and many long instrumental sections. The aforementioned Latin-sounding moments on the album also fit in very well with the rest of the context in the album, and is used sparingly and very tastefully for increased effect.

But the album does have one weak point, that being the vocals. That André Matos guy can get really annoying. His vocals are quite tongue-in-cheek in the vein of Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica, and his pronunciation is just incredibly weird. But after excessive listening, this is overlookable in favour of the excellent music found on here.

Cause in general, this is some high quality power metal found here, the highlight being the guitars. The harmonizing speed metal riffs are intense as hell although they are low enough in the mix to not steal the whole show yet they're definitely not too low. And the guitar solos are some of the coolest I ever heard by a power metal band, and like the music in general they go through a lot of changes in atmosphere and feeling, yet never loses focus.

There is also great variety in the songwriting, and no two songs sound the same.

The opening track Wings of Reality is a pretty standard straightforward power metal tune, Lisbon is a beautiful and original ballad, Metal Icarus is awesome speed/power metal, totally in the vein of Helloween. Paradise is also a highlight, taking on a very epic approach and doing so extremely well, and Speed is very well described by the title- speed fucking metal, yet with all the interesting elements described above making it very different sounding from anything else of the genre.

There are a few weaker tunes though. Fireworks, the title track, is THE WORST BALLAD EVER. The vocals are incredibly tongue-in-cheek, more so than ever before, and the lyrics are dumb as hell. And the all too happy and silly music completely fucking sucks. Some of the acoustic guitar lines remind me of a Robbie Williams song- need I say more?

That's the very weakest song on here. Then we have another ballad in the form of Gentle Change- it's not bad, just very average. Mystery Machine is also pretty average, but all the rest is quite solid.

If you like Helloween or power metal in general and have an open mind for progressive ideas, then I don't see why you wouldn't like Angra. Except maybe for the godawful vocals.
Highlights... Wings of Reality, Lisbon, Metal Icarus.