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Auro Control > The Harp > Reviews > dhpito
Auro Control - The Harp

Much more than another “next Angra” - 90%

dhpito, June 9th, 2024

Angra this, Shaman that, Almah here, Noturnall there. It is undeniable that Brazil has always had a very strong power and prog metal scene, from Hangar to Hibria. Lately, a new wave of melodic metal bands full of unique identities and hungry for a spot in the pantheon of power metal greats has been popping up, from the triumphant return of Dragonheart and Edu Falaschi, to newcomers Vocifer and Flavio Brandão’s Stratosphere Project all having released insanely good albums last year, it is safe to say that the latin american country has been going through a renaissance in the genre. Another group that has burst onto the scene out of nowhere with an incredibly stellar debut is Bahia five-piece Auro Control, with their debut “The Harp”.

Having opened for ShamAngra (project uniting former Shaman and Angra members) this January, a lot of hype was created around their debut album, released officially this friday (5/31) by European label RockShots Records. Two singles were released, predating the record, “Not Alone”, featuring Jeff Scott Soto and “Rise of the Phoenix”, featuring Aquiles Priester. The latter showcases the drummer’s insane technique and speed, but without obscuring the rest of the band’s talents, with Lucas de Ouro’s incredible vocals and both Lucas Barney and Diogo Pires’ riffs still managing to be highlighted. “Not Alone” is an incredibly heartwarming song, both in terms of lyrical themes, seeing as it talks about seeking help in times of trouble, one of the major themes of “The Harp” and in terms of how it was conceived. The lead singer, a lifelong JSS fan stated in our interview with him:

“The song doesn’t have that title for nothing. I wrote it to be sung with someone. And, logically, I thought of JSS to sing with me, as I’m a big fan. In other words: there was no plan B! In fact, I recorded the whole song by myself and sang my parts and his. If he wasn’t willing to participate, I would have paid tribute to him anyway.”
Lucas de Ouro

Although there is a star-studded cast of Brazilian power metal royalty featured on the album, the participations are not used as a crutch, as the songs without them hold up incredibly well. The excellent “Feel the Fire” is the embodiment of modern power metal, having soaring vocals, happy solos, dizzying drum sections, without feeling like an absolute sausagefest of riffs. Apart from the smart compositions, the mix (led by Thiago Bianchi, Noturnall, ex-Shaman, who goes on to have a feature on the last track) brings everything together seamlessly, making it so that the entirety of the complex instrumentation fits together like a glove. “Conception”, for example, brings a whole other approach to the table, being the obligatory ballad, having a simpler beat, highlighting Lucas de Ouro’s vocal versatility, even sounding a bit like Conception, in terms of vocal power. Possibly due to the themes of mental health that are touched on in the album, many of the songs have an innately motivational characteristic to them, but not the motivation of a Rhapsody, for example, that motivates you to get a sword and go slay some dragons. Songs such as “Head Up High” motivate you to take a step back, hold your head high and tackle your life’s problems head on. About the themes, de Ouro comments:

“Taking care of your mental health, after years as turbulent as the ones we’ve been through, is fundamental. Dealing with depression and anxiety are challenges of the modern world and I try to talk about these topics always presenting the possibility of positive transformation.”
Lucas de Ouro

Hailing from Bahia, a region of Brazil with a very strong musical identity, it would be logical that traditional elements from Brazil’s northeast would be incorporated into some songs. There are two songs where elements of Baiano culture can be seen most prominently, the title track and “Break the Silence”, which closes off the album. The former features Bahia-based singer Aiace and current Angra bassist and solo artist Felipe Andreoli beautifully duetting with Thiago Baumgarten. Touching on the importance of music for stable mental health, not only are the lyrics beautiful, but the contrast between both vocalists in the chorus, with Andreoli’s face-melting bass playing throughout creates a unique result, deeply harkening back to Angra’s own experiments with Brazilian singers, be it Milton Nascimento in 2006’s “Late Redemption” off of “Temple of Shadows” or Vanessa Moreno and Lenine in “Cycles of Pain” last year. “The Harp”, the track soars to those heights. “Break the Silence”, concluding track starts off interestingly, calmly, with a shaker, a piano, some typical percussion and a bass section. Things quickly speed up, with the drums becoming faster, the bass more groovy and vocals and guitar quickly being introduced. Producer Thiago Bianchi steps away from the mixer briefly to lend his vocal talents in this song, complementing Lucas de Ouro’s voice perfectly and creating an end result that is not only a great power metal song, but also a stunning showing of the essence of Brazilian music.

All in all, Auro Control’s “The Harp” is an album that deserves to be listened by every power metal fan on repeat. Every single track from it could be analyzed tirelessly, every song could have paragraphs and paragraphs of this review dedicated to it. But, for the sake of brevity, “The Harp” is truly amazing. It not only shows how Latin America is and always has been a major juggernaut in terms of melodic metal, but proves once again that Brazil is not made only of Angras and Shamans. Go listen to it.

Extracted from my review on Chaoszine, quotes from my interview with the lead singer