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A thing of beauty - 90%

doomknocker, August 18th, 2011

Ah, Brazil…what comes to mind when thoughts of your Southern Hemispherical name is mentioned? Beautiful rain forests, indigenous tribes, man-killing insects, Terry Gilliam’s cult masterpiece…and some of the biggest names in underground metal music. From the legendary Sarcofago and Sepultura to the modern-day invasion of Krisiun, most of what came from Brazil was more of the blast-beaty variety than anything else, so when I was given what was apparently a POWER METAL band straight outta of the mighty ‘zil, I’ll admit that I was apprehensive, almost stand-offish, but nevertheless tickled pink at the prospect of hearing what a non-European country could do with the genre.

So let’s see how well this Aquaria act can quench my power metal-born sweet tooth…

If I could describe this disc in one word (and at the risk of losing a bit of my own masculinity), it would have to be Beautiful. This isn’t loud and angry ranting, this isn’t dark and dreary music to cut your wrists to; this is the kind of metal that brings out pleasant thoughts, maybe even a smile or two, and in that right it’s made all the more enjoyable for me. And while I’m sure Aquaria takes (took?) their stylistic abilities seriously, there’s more of a fun-loving vibe to this over the fist-pumping variety heard plentiful times over the years from many other power acts. It’s the whole package that makes it as great as it is, rather than it being merely the sum of its parts, which work so well with one another that you may end up partaking in “Shambala” daily for a good while. Yes…I’d like to think that it’s that good. Much of its fantastic feel comes mainly from the songwriting approach, in which the band tackles the symphonic power metal craft with ease like stalwart veterans telling it like it is, coursing from minute to minute with infectious hooks, intricate, sparkling melodies and rough-and-tumble riffs as they travel on one by one.

Clean and precise production approaches create an ease in listening, making it all the better to check out any and all bouts of musical fanciness Aquaria possesses. Guitars and bass rush by with enough of a punch to maintain relative heaviness, though not intense enough to knock you on your ass, and where modernesque arrangements meet that very old school and Euro-born stylistic meanderings into near-infinite greatness. These are made all the better with tingly twin guitar leads, very tasty keyboard licks, and rapid-fire drum work (which are a bit over-mixed, though) pushing forward some quite Fabio-Leone-like falsetto wails that, surprisingly, are strong in their higher registers. As well, the Brazilian tribal percussion works better in this kind of musical accord; rather than sounding forced or just thrown in like other musical contemporaries (it didn’t fit in “Roots”, believe it or not!), the shakers, bongos, and whatnot add a natural feel to the more electronic ways the rest of the album has. This is easily a product teeming with solidity, demanding repeated listens through a fun catchiness that truly can’t be ignored, as evidenced by the likes of “Expediation”, “Into the Forest”, and “Shambala”.

At the end of the day “Shambala” is a beautiful work of art, a modern power metal masterpiece that mixes a Northern emotional output with Southern-style rhythms damn near perfectly. If you can find it anywhere, I highly suggest you grab it as fast as possible. And prepare to become addicted.

Originally written for The Offering Webzine

Amazonian Metal? Check! - 95%

Nobre, December 22nd, 2007

As if it wasn’t enough what they heave done in their ‘debut’ album, Luxaeterna, Aquaria was able to raise Brazilian music to an unbelievable level in Shambala. Mixed with that European kind of power metal, we find percussions, flutes, berimbaus, and a sort of instruments that will drive you to some tribe of Brazilian Indians.

You may think metal was forgotten among this overdose of tribal music, well, that’s so wrong. Shambala brings us fast melodic songs, good ‘double-basses’ drumming work by nice young drummer Bruno Agra. But the major highlight here is their vocalist Vitor Veiga, his voice sounds like a mixture of Michael Kiske with Biff Byfford and, sometimes, reminds the listener of Andre Matos, from their countrymen Angra.

In fact, there’s a lot of Angra’s influence in this CD, but they’ve their real personality, and you can easily distinguish an Aquaria song. Their music has developed well since Luxaeterna, yet, I miss the tambourines that were so present in their first album, and it worked really fine. Even though there aren’t tambourines, we can hear some excellent percussion like in ‘Expedition’ or ‘Heart of the Gods’.

The production is also perfect, you can listen to all instruments perfectly and the vocals and backing vocals sound perfect. Everything is really well done, from the double-basses to the Brazilian corals. This release is really heavy and awesomely melodic, the vocals are the highlights.

Highlights: Expedition, Heart of the gods, Skies Of Amazonia.