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The other half of Angra's original line-up is in this band together with bassist Luis's brother Hugo. When I first heard of him I was immediately very skeptical about Hugo as much as the new Angra members. Hugo's playing focuses more on being "emotional" rather than technical but I find he can walk on both sides of the street with equal aplomb.
The two years or so since Angra split suggests Shaman's members' skills have rusted; the magic gone. However such is not the case. Matos's voice still enchants but now with a raspier tinge. He is still the versatile vocalist as before, able to hit low notes and high notes with little respite in between. Listen to Fairy Tale to see what I mean. Ricardo's drumming is just as powerful, though now more "primal" than previous Angra albums. Bassist Luis Mariutti still pounds his listeners with his intense bass lines that gives a good groovy edge to the music. Overall I found the rythm refreshingly new to me and I loved it immediately.
As expected, the production by Sascha Paeth and Miro are extremely well done. I for one do not think medling classical and world music into metal/rock is a walk in the park but these guys did it perfectly.
Shaman mines a new vein in metal, "mystic" metal they call it. I don't know the name for it but it is magic. The atmosphere they create cannot be described; you have to hear it for yourself. This album is throughly unique and melodic. I swear, the first time I heard "Here I Am" my mouth was practically dropping to the floor. Never had I heard such beautiful piano playing and I doubt I will again. The choruses are the catchy climaxes of each song. As they say valleys are there to make the mountains seem higher, but in this album even the "valleys" were enchanting, making that analogy seem redundant.
Ritual is often compared to Rebirth but I cannot say which album is better. I love both and I think each have their own good points. One thing I have to mention about Ritual though, it is not as accessible as Rebirth and you have to let it slowly grow on you. If you want a new experience then try Ritual. If you would rather stick to something you are familiar with that has been perfected, then get Rebirth. If you don't want to go wrong, get BOTH. Trust me, you won't regret it.