|Review: Angra - Fireworks|
Year released: 1998
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: May 23, 2009
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Fireworks was the last album to feature the awesome line-up of vocalist André Matos, guitarists Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt, bass player Luis Mariutti, and drummer Ricardo Confessori (who I'm pleased to say is back in Angra). After this release all would depart but resident shredders Kiko and Rafael – the others guys went to form the really cool Shaman. One of the more striking factors about Fireworks is that Angra would never release another album of its ilk. Previous release Holy Land was an amazing blend of metal and traditional Brazilian/Latino music, embracing their progressive side and creating an album for the ages. Fireworks however is more of a straight-ahead metal album, which despite lacking the originality of Holy Land bears both ingenuity and accessibility. Also worth noting is the year of Fireworks release, 1998. That year would see acts such as Hammerfall and Stratovarius take their places in (re)defining the European Power Metal scene, Gamma Ray hit their stride and Helloween began to be taken seriously again. A very good time for the Power Metal scene, where the majority of the acts mentioned would go on to release their best. It was in this time where acts were striving to create the best material possible, a time with no set formula. What a perfect time for five guys from Brazil to show the Europeans their spin on things.
Equipped with the stupendous vocals of André Matos and his immense range, vocally Fireworks is a treat for the ears. Transcending octaves and ranging from soft to powerful, it's not hard to see how good this guy is – "Paradise" and "Gentle Change" are my personal highlights for vocal performance here. Fireworks features many a scorcher to soar through your speakers with an abundance of sweet riffs. The guitar work of Kiko and Rafael is as ever incredible – not as flashy as we come to expect in recent years, but fantastic nonetheless. Another enjoyable factor on this release is that there isn't one spot of filler in sight, each of the tracks bring something to the table. There's some really interesting stuff on offer with Fireworks, a personal favorite of mine is the awesome "Petrified Eyes". Starting with a really chill intro reminiscent of Joe Satriani circa Flying in a Blue Dream, we're then lead nicely into some killer riffage. "Metal Icarus" is a sublime Power Metal number, with some scorching lead-work complemented with fantastic vocals. "Extreme Dream" is another good cruncher – again featuring some fiery guitars. Surprisingly enough another personal highlight comes in the form of the humble "Gentle Change", with the cultural instrumental the track is a sheer delight to listen to.
Really Angra were on their A-game with this release. Similar magic would be created with the first Shaman release, but in all honesty I prefer this one a little more. Fortunately Angra would rise from the ashes and lynch us with the superlative Rebirth, catapulting them into the Power Metal premier league. Overall Fireworks is an interesting piece of metal history showing mature songwriting and originality in a genre that would later be plagued with copycats and unoriginality. This should be a no-brainer for Angra fans and certainly deserves a place in the collection of any Power Metal aficionado. Recommended
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Interview with guitarist Rafael Bittencourt on February 16, 2002 (Interviewed by Christian Renner)
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