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Immortal - 80%

Andromeda_Unchained, August 9th, 2010

When Andre Matos left and took half of Angra with him in 2000 the band Shaman came to being, quickly hiring guitarist Hugo Mariutti they had their line up and released the stellar Ritual in 2002. After 2005's Reason Shaman went on a break, during which all but sticks-man Ricardo Confessori left Shaman and it was believed the band was no more. Lucky for us however that wasn't so, as Ricardo managed to secure a new line up consisting of singer Thiago Bianchi, axe-slinger Léo Mancini, and bass player Fernando Quesada.

History lesson aside, let's get to the all important point here, the music. Let me be the first to tell you that this album is fantastic. We all know Andre Matos is an incredible vocalist and certainly a big pair of boots to fill, but Thiago Bianchi more than fills those boots. This guy is incredible, boasting such a diverse range with power and conviction to spare. A good track to check out this guy's pipes has to be "Trial by Blood" and "Immortal"- incredible stuff. After the throw away intro track, the awesome "Inside Chains" rages out and this track slays, fast, wild, and heavy; veterans of the scene take note of this because Shaman take no prisoners on "Immortal". Best of all however, is that starting on such a high you'd expect this album to dip in quality towards the middle/end end. Not a chance here the best "Immortal" has to offer is from this point on. "One Life" is awesome Angra worship - very impressive, "Strength" flies into your speaker with some of the best fret-work I've heard in a long while and continues to own throughout. "Never Yield"is probably the best track this album has to offer with some quality riffage and some of the finest drumming you will hear in Power Metal, Ricardo Confessori really takes names on this record.

Sadly, album closer "The Yellow Brick Road" is the weakest track here. Seeing its 8 minute run time I was expecting an epic but we just got a prolonged ballad which between 3.44 and 5.49 dips into almost silence and when the sound comes back into the fore we have some nice forest sounding music, but I feel this track could easily have been trimmed down to around five minutes. Minor gripe aside, this is as good a Power Metal album as you could hope for, which I can gladly recommend to fans of acts such as Angra, Labyrinth, Alkemyst or Vision Divine.

Originally appeared at www.metalcrypt.com

Immortal? I hope not! - 20%

Sean16, November 2nd, 2008

Shaman is this band originally formed by three ex-members of Angra, of whose only drummer Ricardo Confessori is left. And apparently Mr Confessori, when he was on his own, thought hiring new members and giving the band another start would be the best idea to show the whole world the true extent of his talent. So, what did you expect? He succeeded, and everyone can now certify he has, whatsoever, no talent at all.

Not only has Confessori always been nothing more than an average drummer, but now he seems he either can’t write proper songs, or recruit good musicians, or properly produce an album. Indeed the production might well be the worst here, coming to a point where everything sounds fake, without any exception. Drums so outrageously triggered it would make Hellhammer sound like a purist, a saturation of electro keyboards, amongst the most awkward guitar sounds I’ve ever heard (to the point you often can’t tell the guitars from the keyboards) and occasionally distorted vocals, you should get the picture by now – oh, and I also forgot to mention the omnipresent worthless orchestrations. You know, when a release begins with not less than three minutes of orchestration only, you just know it can’t be good. At least the awful digitalized cover art perfectly mirrors the awful digitalized music, so the potential listener knows what he’s buying (what makes me seriously wondering why I bought it in the first place, actually).

Alright, let’s still do justice to this recording in some way: if the sound could be described as, to keep it short, the antithesis of metal, the songwriting is undoubtedly metal – not electro, pop, nu-metal or whatever, as it could be feared at first glance. Alas, this doesn’t mean it’s good, as from a soup of the most generic elements of nowadays metal nothing really convincing can emerge. Apart from the intro and the mandatory shitty ballads (In the Dark, The Yellow Brick Road) the tracks may be pretty fast-paced, but the production and bad musicianship still make them lack of any real energy. There are no genuine riffs, but a succession of unimaginative power chords anyone a tad familiar with power metal has already heard a thousand times before. Most of the guitar solos are perfect fillers, as if the guy felt compelled to pick random strings for a few seconds “because there just had to be a solo at this place”. Keyboard solos are, as anything keyboard-related on this album, an abomination. The rhythmic section could be easily copied and pasted from one song to another without anyone noticing the difference, and while there’s an obvious will of the band to look for catchy choruses, those nevertheless fail to be a single bit memorable. The vocals, eventually, sound perfectly acceptable as long as they’re not distorted or the singer doesn’t try to mimic its illustrious predecessor Andre Matos by reaching over-high notes, meaning, roughly 50% of the time. However those 50% of acceptable vocals are still, by far, the best part of the work.

And of course, as with every South-American band running out of imagination (Sepultura anyone?) the guys just had the idea to run into the forest to record a bunch of tribal sounds to add to the overall crappiness of their record. The only positive aspect of this being the Indians (or whatever they are) must have earned a couple of bucks from it, probably insufficient to take them out of poverty but you know, I’d just like to hope this overall pathetic excuse for an album would still have been of some use to someone.

Highlights: are you joking?

A surprising comeback - 85%

mak28, September 6th, 2008

This band should have been done.

Andre Matos, always a strong character and main songwriter for this band is gone. In fact, it's just drummer Ricardo Confessori left in the band. Yet, this album is much better than scattered, surprisingly depressed Reason album and probably better than their debut. It would seem that Ricardo matched and better this band as the other members walked away. The new vocalist Thiago Bianchi outshines both Andre and Angra's Edu Falaschi becoming easily the best of the three. He's got better range than Andre, with a smooth lower register, and more spirit than Edu who seemed to slack on the last Angra. Hugo Mariutti who was a good guitar player has also been topped by Leo Mancini. The leads here are fantastic throughout. They have a ton of feel and melody but blaze with the best of them, improving every song. The bass isn't much to speak of as it doesn't have much chance to shine but as a backbone to Ricardo's tremendous drumming, Fernando Quesada is at least adequate.

As for the songwriting on display, this is typical Angra/Shaman fair. The riffs are blazing one minute, pounding the next. There are progressive turns to most of the songs. It's evident that a drummer had his hand in the writing becomes the rhythms can be pretty intricate and it adds a lot of complexity to the album. This album also has more heft to it and displays are darker feel while maintaining the sound their heritage would dictate. You get the big uplifting choruses, some of the best heard from any of Ricardo's bands but the guitar sound has a lot of grit when it gets crunching.

In the end I was more than happy with this album and thoroughly shocked by how good it was. Songs like Immortal, One Life, Freedom and Inside Chains are able to stand with anything in this band's past. If you decided to skip this album because of doubt you're making a big mistake. Anyone who's a fan of Angra or Shaman would do well to check this out. It's better than the first Almah, the previous Shaman and is on the level with Angra's Aurora Consurgens. I really hope this band can keep going because they've got a promising future here.

Completely forgettable junk - 15%

BloodIronBeer, November 5th, 2007

Whilst investigating Andre Matos, I figured I'd look into Shaman as well. A logical decision, but nonetheless one that bore ill consequence. If I was Andre, I'd leave this band too.

One of the most damaging things a band can do is aim to be or do something they're incapable of and, as expected, fall flat on their naive faces. Sometimes, it'd be better for them to just stick to playing something generic and safe. Shaman's Immortal is a shining example of this.

The album tries to be progressive, radio friendly, heavy and unique, though succeeds in only the least admirable of those. There are daft keyboard solos, guitars that have undergone severe obnoxious electronic alteration, pseudo epic ballads, standard vocals, forgettable riffs and generous portions of shameless mainstream catering.

Yet another talented Brazilian drummer trapped in a sub par band. Perhaps credit is owed to the folk music of South America, with it's rich, complex rhythms. It's sad, regardless.

It's astounding to me just how forgettable this is. I listened attentively throughout the album for a solid riff. And there is not one. Even mediocre bands can wring a few cool riffs out every album, but there is simply none here. It's purely forgettable.

I was really uncertain what to dub this brand of metal. It draws influences from all across the board, and not a one of them turn out in their favor. They are clearly trying to emulate Angra's sound with a lean toward mass appeal. But without the talent, authenticity or creativity to accomplish such a feat, you're left with nothing but a cluster of empty and incoherent songs. As for having mass appeal – well, I'm just not educated enough in that field to tell. But one thing's for sure, it lacks character, integrity and skill, just the same as those bands.



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