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Review: Aquaria - Shambala

Label: Avalon/Marquee Inñ
Year released: 2007
Duration: 66:23
Tracks: 11
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: November 18, 2007
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating

Rated 4.44/5 (88.89%) (9 Votes)

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.

Track Listing:
  1. Hope
  2. Heart Of The Gods
  3. Expedition
  4. Into The Forest
  5. Lost
  6. Iara
  7. Shambala
  8. Child Of The Universe
  9. Firewings
  10. Skies Of Amazonia
  11. Liberty
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