|Review: Angra - Temple of Shadows|
|Temple of Shadows|
Label: Rakibitiou Music
Year released: 2004
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Review online: May 11, 2009
Reviewed by: Caspian
for:Temple of Shadows
There are a few things that Brazilians are good at. Hot chicks, Thrash Metal, lack of surf etiquette. Soccer. I guess you could add flamboyant homosexuals in there, too. Angra don't necessarily fit into any of those stereotypes, but you can tell this band is the product of the weirdest country this side of Japan and Germany.
Angra could best be described as what happens when Brazilians cover Blind Guardian. Chaos ensues, and unfortunately it does not result in hot, tanned Latin women. The singer sounds sort of like Nelson from the Simpsons, the music sounds like.. A Brazilian Blind Guardian. Melodic, epic-ish Power Metal, with a whole lot of camp added.
Like most Power Metal, the faster, more intricate songs are far better than anything slower. While "Spread the Fire" has a terrible start (tip, guys: if you want a big dramatic start when your riffs come in, make the riffs [I]louder[/I] than the classical intro) but quickly recovers and it doesn't take long for you to realise that Angra can make some excellent music; the riffs are good and punchy, the synths of a high quality and mixed subtly, hell, the operatic female vocals work pretty well. Even the dude's powerful but kooky vocal tone sounds pretty cool. The other song that really sticks in my mind would have to be "The Temple of Hate", a brilliant song where a bunch of epic sweeps and riffs give way to some righteous (really, no other word fits) soloing, all before a classical interlude comes in and doesn't even wreck the song! Clearly, clearly these guys have some serious potential.
Things get a bit less consistent when Angra step out of the fast 'n' catchy mould, however. Plenty of highs and lows, many in the same song a few minutes from the last peak/trough. "The Shadow Hunter" is particularly schizo; a Latin-ish acoustic intro building to epic Power Metal riffs, before some horrible acappella, with another build culminating in some Brazilian-in-an-uncomfortable-gstring wailing. "Wishing Well" would have to be the most blatant Michael Bolton loving, MOR song that anyone's ever tried to pass off as a power ballad. Variety is obviously key to Angra- it's great, really, you have no idea what they'll introduce next, but on the negative side they might not be introducing something that's good. "Winds of Destination" has the singer from Blind Guardian singing in part of it, and it's got a sweet piano interlude; whereas "Sprouts of Time" has, er, maracas, truly horrible offbeat guitar lines and some not-so-sweet pianos, all culminating in a samba jam that can only be described as brutally gay. The best description I'd have for this album would be "all over the place".
Inconsistency aside, the main problem with this album is something that you've seen in every other concept album; there are just way too many ballads. The faster stuff on this album's great, really, even the super fruity intro riff to "Angels and Demons" sounds cool and builds eventually into more upbeat, catchy rocking. Over time though the ballads start to come in, the acoustic guitars start piling on, the excitement drops and the eyes start drooping. It's really frustrating; I didn't buy a Power Metal album to hear ballad after ballad! Give me some energetic melodic riffs! Give me some leads! Just no more ballads with average vocals and heaps of synths.. Man, if I want to hear well done classical sounds I'll put on some classical. It's no surprise that the best songs here are the ones with the highest fast guitar parts/everything else ratio.
Honestly, the amount of non-fast songs is a bummer, as when Angra do actually rock out they sound rad. Riffs are huge, it's epic, big and bombastic, refreshing and sounding really great, and all fairly layered, too. The Brazilian Blind Guardian, indeed; what could've been an amazing concept album is let down by heaps of filler and too much freaking balladry.
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