ANGRA Temple Of Shadows (SPV) (2004)
The year 1998 was quite significant for all the fans of the Brazilian Power Metal outfit Angra. After having released two amazing studio albums that sold more than a million copies world-wide, "Angel's Cry" (1993) and "Holy Land" (1996), the band, whose name was inspired by the Brazilian Goddess of Fire, went to the well-known Abbey Road Studios (The Beatles) to record their third studio album "Fireworks".
One would believe that with Chris Tsangarides (Judas Priest - Painkiller) as a producer, the five Brazilians would manage to convince even the most difficult of audiences that they were the new leaders of the modern Power Metal scene.
Well, let's just say that things didn't work that well for the band. "Fireworks" didn't sell as much as both Angra and their label originally expected, and the ever-growing problems regarding the band's management and the musical direction led to the departure of three of the band's original members. In 2000, Andre Matos (vocals), Ricardo Confessori (Drums) and Luis Mariutti (bass) went and formed the band Shaman (inspired by the same titled song which belongs on Angra's album "Holy Land") and continued their musical search which started back in 1991.
Why this long intro? My intention is not to read to you another bedtime story. When Matos and Co left Angra, most of their fans, myself included, assumed that it was all over, and even the fact that the band managed to release another studio album the following year ("Rebirth" - 2001) didn't make any difference to both their fans and the music press.
Up until that point, the Brazilian outfit was guaranteed a multi-page interview in some of the most important magazines with every new release, but now things were much different. I can still remember that most of the people I knew at the time were urging me to avoid listening to "Rebirth" because Angra in their opinion were a "lost cause".
I guess that if I was not lucky enough to be working for Get Ready to Rock, I would treat "Temple of Shadows" the same way, but thank God that I didn't!
When we received the promo of the band's new album in our headquarters, I asked to be assigned the task of making the review. Why? I really don't know! Maybe because I was feeling a bit guilty for having rejected Angra without giving them a chance to prove themselves to me, or maybe because deep down inside I knew that the duet Loureiro and Bittencourt had not yet said their final world.
When I finally got my hands on "Temple of Shadows", I promised myself that I would try to be as objective as possible, forgetting all the great moments that I had listening to their first two albums. To be entirely honest with you, my main concern was whether I would be able to accept Edu Falaschi as the band's new singer, and that was quite a challenge.
My first introduction to the album left me with a very positive impression, but that was nothing compared to what I felt after I listened to the album for the second or even the third time. Then it became official - I was hooked on "Temple of Shadows" for good. The recipe that the Brazilian outfit uses when creating songs is well known and already tested. The band flirts with both melodic and technical rhythms, with the only difference that this time they tend to give more emphasis to melody than they did on "Holy Land". Ok, but isn't that exactly what they did on "Fireworks"? What is it that makes "Temple of Shadows" any better?
Well, for starters, this time around, there is more depth to the eleven compositions that make up this album. The band seems to be far more focused and the guitar melodies that both Kiko and Rafael have created are not only memorable, but also quite admirable. Try listening to the main guitar solo from "Angels and Demons" and you will see what I mean.
If you are smart enough to avoid a direct comparison with Andre Matos, you will be able to realise that Edu Falaschi is a really good vocalist that has become more than just a temporary replacement. His voice works as the sixth instrument that has given to "Temple of Shadows" a very special colour.
I sound very excited, don't I? Yes, it is simply because I have once again found a long lost friend who has many new and beautiful stories to tell me, and I simply cannot wait!
"Temple of Shadows" is a concept album about an 11th Century Crusader who questions the authority of the Catholic Church, and as a true concept album, this release presents a variety of different styles and compositions. There are quite a few important people that have contributed to the creation of this album, starting with Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69), who did produced of the album.
Additionally, the band invited Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) and Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge), who all recorded vocal parts for some of the songs of the album. I consider Sabine's contribution as the most important of all, because her ethereal voice in songs like "Spread Your Fire", "Waiting Silence" and the quite symphonic/classical "No Pain for the Dead" gave a different vibe to the album, and raised the price of the band's stocks on the Metal Stock Exchange.
As for my favourite songs of the album: a really difficult choice indeed. I guess that I would go for "Angels and Demons", "Waiting Silence" (what an amazing solo), "No Pain for the Dead" and "Sprouts of Time"(with plenty of Brazilian folk elements) - quite a few indeed! The band will be touring around the world in order to promote "Temple of Shadows", and luckily they will also play in the United Kingdom. I haven't seen them in ages, and I do not plan to miss them this time - I urge you to do the same. While you are listening to the "Temple of Shadows" let me see whether I can find a copy of "Rebirth" at my local record store…
Review by John Stefanis