Temple Of Shadows
Quite the treat for the Prog fan as well as the Metal fan
Metal notables Angra have returned with a CD that kicks you in the teeth right off the bat. Starting with a brief orchestration, you are quickly drawn into the metal thunder that is the track “Spread Your Fire”. I admit I played this one at top volume at least 4 times in a row before I let the rest of the CD complete. Hailing from Portugal, this quintet does not do anything less that pull out all the stops for you on this entitled “Temple Of Shadows”. As I mentioned, the track “Spread Your Fire” is nothing short of a blistering technical masterpiece. There is also a grand chorus that makes one feel like raising flagons of beer into the air when it plays. Clearly this is the band that inspires the likes of “Heavenly” and “Dragonforce” for not only is an amazing amount of speed delivered during the tune, but there is no loss of technical ability throughout.
We often find that when there is so much speed that the skill suffers as a result. Not so in the case of Angra. Some of the tracks made me site back as a musician and try and figure how they managed to play it with such a fluidity. Since not all Prog fans are Power Metal fans, I say that this offers quite the treat for the Prog fan as well as the Metal fan.
“Wishing Well” is a must for those who love the ever present heavy ballad. It is done quite well and fits into the context of the story they are lining out. According to press copy, they CD tells the tale of the Shadow Hunter, a Soldier from the Crusades. The group also manages to mix some lush orchestrations into some of the tracks as well as some ethnic flavors. This allows this CD to hold a level of difference in a time were Power Metal is finding itself a little too repetitive. In addition to the differences used in the music, the voice of Edu is both warm and full of feeling yet at times strikes like a lightning bolt through the night sky.
The lineup consists of Edu Falaschi (vocals), Kiko Loureiro (Guitars), Rafael Bittencourt (Guitars), Felipe Andreoli (Bass) and Aqualis Priester (Drums). Production was handled by Dennis Ward (who took his off time from his band Pink Cream 69 to do this record). The list of favorities for me is actually most of the CD, as I enjoyed it that much. Most specifically were “Spread Your Fire”, “Temple Of Hate”, “Winds Of Destination” and pretty much anything where Aqualis, Kiko, and Rafael are the most busy on their instruments.
Manages to represent the best of the genre by breaking rank
As a moderately enthusiastic power metal fan, I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I have hitherto not been hip to the creations of Brazilian power peddlers Angra. And if Temple Of Shadows is anything to go by, then I must also concede that the loss has been mine.
Right from the beginning of the instrumental intro "Deus Le Volt!," it is abundantly clear that we are in for a treat, and Angra promptly serve the first proper course of this eclectic feast in the speedy, exhilarating "Spread Your Fire." But while this number may bear a scent of formulaic power-metal, what follows quickly rescues Temple from that particular pigeon hole. "Angels And Demons" and the uplifting ballad "Wishing Well" (no, not the much-covered Free classic) boast traits that should play favorably with the power/ prog/ epic/ pomp crowds, while not relying wholly on the tenets of any style. " Temple Of Hate ," on the other hand, will appease those who pine for speed tempered with melody (not to mention serious chops all around!). Lacking a lyric sheet with my promo copy of the album, I can only speculate about the album’s lyrical message. The bio enclosed, however, reveals that Temple Of Shadows is a concept album about the Shadow Hunter, an 11 th-century warrior fighting in the infamous Crusades, who comes to question the ideals of the Catholic Church. I have not had sufficient opportunity to decipher and digest all of the album’s lyrical content, but the impression I get is that the band have put a decent amount of thought into their musings, rather than just spewing D&D/ trad-metal cliches.
In any case, the lyrics pale in significance when compared to the fine musical package on display. Edu Falaschi’s vocals are operatic, but not overblown. The rhythm section of bassist Felipe Andreoli and drummer Aqualis Priester shows dazzling dexterity without overpowering the rest of the band. And guitarists Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt display a stunning combination of technique, taste and tone that makes for an engaging and beautiful sonic palette. Pink Cream 69's Dennis Ward serves as producer, providing the band with a pleasant, rich and crystal-clear recording that does poetic justice to the band’s surprisingly wide array of cool musical ideas. Several guest musicians have dropped by to further enrich the album, most notably Gamma Ray/ Helloween guitar hero Kai Hansen and Brazilian vocalist/ composer Milton Nascimento, who appears on the bi-lingual mini-epic "Late Redemption." Hints of Latin percussion and judiciously applied keyboards provide the finishing touches, on this robust and fulfilling album.
With many fans now suffering from power metal fatigue in the wake of that genre’s musical deluge over the last few years, I for one hope that Angra’s latest offering doesn’t get lost in the double-time shuffle. Like Silent Force’s awesome Worlds Apart opus, Temple Of Shadows manages to represent the best of the genre by breaking rank with it. But I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise; After all, that’s what the world’s truest talents have always done- push the envelope, even if only a few inches to the left of center.
Note: My promo CD includes an unlisted thirteenth track consisting of five minutes of plush, symphonic instrumental bliss for your listening pleasure. A nice little extra, even if I don’t know its title!