|Review: Aquaria - Shambala|
Label: Avalon/Marquee Inñ
Year released: 2007
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: November 18, 2007
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Man, where did this album come from? I'm not generally a big fan of super-happy Power Metal, though I do make exceptions, and despite a sound that, on paper, looks horrible; Aquaria have produced a sophomore album that is generally enjoyable, and in places, absolutely brilliant.
This is South American sympho-prog/Power Metal that draws a lot on bands like Angra or Pagan's Mind, with crystal-clear production, smooth vocals melodies, and some impressive musicianship. That alone isn't enough to lift this above the general sea of similar bands, and indeed, a lot of this album is decent but overly familiar, from the Domine-esque "Child Of The Universe" through the sickly-sweet "Heart Of The Gods". "Firewings is pretty laughable, as it is the "Hyborean" theme from the Conan score reworked into a power ballad. All of this is competent, but not really arresting.
But on several tracks - "Expedition", the title track, and the nine-minute showstopper "Into The Forest" - Aquaria strike out into new territory, and the results are both original and rather amazing. On these songs they have included traditional South American folk-dance melodies and instrumentation to create a hybrid sound somewhere between Anubis Gate and the Native Flute Ensemble. Highlighted by powerful vocals and catchy melodies, these tracks really stand out, especially "Into The Forest" with its tour-de-force composition and searing vocals combined with Samba/Mideast dance rhythms. I know how that sounds, but it works. It really does. It's pretty fruity, but I can't lie and say I don't really like it when I do.
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