|Review: Angra - Aqua|
Year released: 2010
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: October 31, 2010
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
What are we going to do with Angra? I don't really enjoy their early material that much – sure it's very well written, and technically sound at that, but it has not yet engaged me and the vocals of then-frontman Matos rub me the wrong way. Temple of Shadows was good but held back by a lot of things that made it hard to listen to all the way through – for instance, it was fruity as hell, and overloaded with too many ideas. Aurora Consurgens fixed those problems and delivered a great album of modernized power metal. But I still thought they could do better...and hence, Aqua.
This album is just really awesome. It's proggy and dense – much more so than anything else they've ever done. This is not the kind of album that you would expect after hearing Temple of Shadows alone, and for that I think this is getting a lot of unwarranted bad press from the metal community. In reality this is the sound they seem to have been shooting for all along. Where on Temple they just tossed random elements into a melting pot and hoped it came out with some good hooks – succeeding only half the time – on Aqua, they condense their rumbling guitars, folksy melodies and epic vocal lines into full-throttle progressive metal without any apologies.
The restraint on this album is just maddening, as when you think the song might explode into a high-flying chorus or screaming climax...it doesn't. And that's what's so good about it – they've managed to construct a bunch of tunes that never go for the obvious hook, rather choosing to try for a new twist – most of the time it works really well. Edu Falaschi's vocals are reigned in to a deeper, darker intonation than he's ever had, and his vocal melodies are just superb on here. They're slow-burning growers, but once they hit you, they really hit you, as on "Hollow" or "A Monster in Her Eyes." "Weakness of a Man" is just great with this, too.
The guitars are always heavy and rhythmic, not always going for a straight-ahead metal attack, but always being complex and riveting – check out the blistering "Awake from Darkness" or the more straight-ahead power metal cruiser "Arising Thunder." There are some subtle folk elements on a few tracks like the excellent "Lease of Life" and the crushing, searing "Weakness of a Man," and a lot of slow, ballad-esque moments that allow Falaschi to stretch out his pipes and the guitarists to cook out some more emotive moments. "A Monster in Her Eyes" is absolutely stunning in this regard.
Nothing on here is really done in a way you'd expect, and since the hooks are so angular and fresh, the songs never wear out their welcome, always sounding cool and innovative. There is a somber twinge to the melodies here at times, and at others, an angry, wrathful one, making this album sound somewhat like a journey through the raging, untamed wilderness – if not for the pristine sense of refinement in the songwriting, that is. With Aqua the band eschews more and more of what held them back in the early days and also brings closer the themes and motifs they always wanted to get down in their lyrics and atmosphere. This album is progressive, raw, subtle and a huge grower if there ever was one, revealing new layers with each spin. Angra has never sounded better.
|Other related information on the site|
|Review: Aqua (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)|
Review: Aurora Consurgens (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Fireworks (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: Rebirth (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: Secret Garden (reviewed by Bruno Medeiros)
Review: Temple of Shadows (reviewed by 4th Horseman)
Review: Temple of Shadows (reviewed by Caspian)
Review: Temple of Shadows (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with guitarist Rafael Bittencourt on February 16, 2002 (Interviewed by Christian Renner)
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