Tuesday, October 4
Friday, September 30
Wednesday, September 28
"Healing whispers of the angels bring the sunrise again..."
Thus sayeth the wise Edu Falaschi in the first few minutes of Angra's momentous return to form after parting ways with previous members Andre Matos, Ricardo Confessori (destined to return for 2010's "Aqua"), and Luis Mariutti. Just as many fans were left wondering what was to become of the band, "Rebirth" dropped jaws worldwide while baptizing the new lineup in a whole new high-octane style of power-prog that offered more punch and complexity than the band's previous efforts.
While the Brazilians previously established themselves as one of the premier metal acts in their home country with great records like "Holy Land" and "Angels Cry", the intensity of "Rebirth" left them alone at the top of the heap in their chosen genre. Not only did the band rebound quickly from losing half its members, but managed to write its strongest material yet. While the prelude/opening song combination has always been a strong point for Angra, "In Excelsis" and "Nova Era" take this strength to new heights, and the combination is one of my very favorites at the beginning of an album. Also known for blending tempos and incorporating native Brazilian elements and conventional symphonic sounds, "Rebirth" brings these sounds to the forefront, in addition to emphasizing the band's guitar work like never before.
Need evidence of the maturity of the band's composition? Look no further than the sublimely epic "Acid Rain", the breathtaking "Running Alone", or the superb blend of indigenously inspired melodies and power metal speed of "Unholy Wars". Even at their softer moments, the ballad "Heroes Of Sand" and the moderate title track, Angra has never to this day written more infectious and accessible material. The dual fire-spitting guitar attack of Loureiro and Bittencourt, always been a cornerstone, has manifested here in the fastest, most impressive example of their work together. From this point forward, it more or less became expected from them on every album.
"Rebirth" stands alone amongst Angra's catalog as being the one true example of pure high-speed melodic power metal that the band has produced. While highly technical, it doesn't have the pronounced progressive flair of the group's later albums, while simultaneously featuring much more bombast and dramatics than earlier efforts like "Holy Land" and "Fireworks". Along with the mighty "Temple Of Shadows", this is generally considered to be the band's finest work, and for good enough reason.
A couple of listens through will have any fan of fine progressive power on their knees, weeping and blubbering for mercy. Though it's a happy, religious-tuned, and rip-roaring power metal adventure, most metal fans will find something to appreciate on "Rebirth" (which is perhaps one of the most apt album titles I've ever come across). Some might call “Rebirth” the album that Angra produced before they "focused their energy" and created the epic “Temple Of Shadows”, but I think that this work was instrumental in phasing the band from one era to another, and what better way to do it than fill it with the galloping power metal that appears occasionally on albums across the rest of their career?
Angra is clearly pleased with this effort, and so overwhelmingly am I. As Edu stated for the band, it’s “time to fly”.
The Protagonist's Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Dagg’s rating: 4.75/5
Tuesday, September 27
The Writ of the Sword
“The Writ of the Sword” is the sophomore album by Finnish metal band Crimfall. This band really made a bit of a splash in the scene with their debut “As the Path Unfolds…” which, from what I heard was mostly worthy of its praise. However, Crimfall seems to have fallen victim to the dreaded curse of the second album.
For one to label this band with a genre is rather difficult, as they cross many boundary lines. They use the dual vocalist system, switching between clean, folksy female vocals and harsh growls and screams, which are fairly common of folk metal. The performances of both vocalists are amiable, even if there are some vocal lines that aren’t all that great and some of the high pitched growls are weak.
Apart from the vocals, there are quite a few violin passages which add to the folk feeling. There are a few symphonic elements, however they’re far between and don’t add much to the overall sound. Choirs and chants are more common and more effective.
There are a couple of acoustic guitar passages that are rather compelling, but apart from that, the guitar is mostly uninteresting and boring. There is a real lack of entertaining riffs, and the few solos that there are, are very simplistic, emotionless and quite frankly a waste of time. Having some obvious melodic death metal influences didn’t help their cause, as they tended to take weaker aspects that tend to appear in the genre. There are some great drum moments on this however, which makes up for the lack of inspirational guitar playing.
Despite having very talented musicians, the lack of inspiration in the majority of the song writing really holds this album back. Being a young band however, they do have potential to make something of themselves yet.
Claus’ Rating 2.25 /5
Monday, September 26
I'm going to assume that most of you know a bit about Opeth. Whether you like them or not, you have to admit their importance as one of the most influential metal bands of the last twenty years. Since the release of the groundbreaking "Orchid" in 1995, they have constantly pushed their unique brand of progressive death metal in ever new and surprising directions, freely adding hints of folk, jazz, progressive rock, and whatever else mastermind Mikael Åkerfeldt wants to play. Within this paradigm, they have carved out their own very specialized niche in the world of metal. However, Opeth has never been known to shy away from experimentaion (see 2003's mellowed-out "Damnation"), and their latest offering, "Heritage," marks another rather dramatic shift in their sound.