Angra – Aqua

Angra started their progressive metal career in 1991, debuting in 1993 with their stunning Angel’s Cry. Year after year, they seem to have this wonderful ability to keep up with the times and at the same time continue to make music in the vein of progressive/ power metal that made their debut so good. It has everything that progressive metal and power metal fans would want- harmonic clean vocals, lots of guitar solos, and a good amount of keyboards that aren’t used the entire time to smother the music. Angra also have the gift of creating interesting stories with their music- even if the stories have been done before or something similar to them- much like other epic metal bands such as Kamelot. Unlike Kamelot though, Angra try not to do concept albums directly, but somehow the way they set their songs up, it just comes off that way. With 2010, their latest offering, Aqua, sounds very simple in name. However, it is very complex and will keep fans thinking as Angra throw yet another curveball of exciting music to their ears.

For those who have never heard Angra before, the opening track can be misleading. It’s epic and symphonic, with the lush choir arrangements and strings; one would almost think they were listening to Virgin Black. However, “Arising Thunder” is a much better example of what to expect from Angra. It’s one of the more power metal influenced tracks on the album as it begins with a virtuous guitar solo and then the vocals come in their harmonic, yet biting tone. The guitars play right along side it, matching each word so it sounds like there’s a lot of breakdowns and pauses between each note. However, durin the chorus everything seems to draw out more- especially the keyboards- and in the background the drums sound heavily militaristic as they tap away. The solos are very exciting and sound a lot like keyboards, but they have that ‘edge’ to them that keyboards can’t create so fans can tell the difference. As far as the vocals go, they can reach their highs, but usually stay at a mid paced tone, much like one would hear from Symphony X or Dream Theater. On “Awake From Dreams,” they sound a bit more raw, which is odd because it contrasts with the technical tone of the guitars and drums on the rest of the track. However, this disharmony adds variation to the music to make it completely different from “Arising Thunder.”

There’s ballads here, of course- what progressive/ power metal band doesn’t have them? “Lease Of Life” isn’t a typical power metal ballad though. In fact, it sounds more funky/ jazz influenced than anything else. The piano intro is certainly classical and a great addition to Angra’s musical arsenal, but the guitars also perfom a hearty dosage of fusion mixed tunes that are not typical of the usual power or progressive metal that is heard, and shows a lot more depth to Angra’s skills.  “Spirit Of Air” is a more classically influenced ballad; like the first track, it features the choirs again, but there is also some futuristic keyboard work too that is heard right after before the guitar solo. “A Monster In Her Eyes” uses its ballad influence through the guitars; again, there’s that jazz influence with how the notes are picked. The piano is in there too, but it’s the lyrical content and the way the vocals sound that really evoke the emotional aspects of the music. Similarly, but not entirely the same, “Ashes” uses that same emotion, but focuses on the instrumentation instead of the vocals and lyrics to really hit the listener. It’s hard to listen to anything on this album and say they don’t feel anything.

Maybe the one thing that’s kept Angra in musical shape and inspiration is that ability to stir emotions with their music. Part of that is having the varied song structure; there’s been plenty of times when someone hears a CD and it starts out great and then, due to repetitive natures, slowly loses interest and either just listens to it for two tracks or puts it on the shelf and never spins it again. Not so with Aqua. The opener is the bait and once someone gets through that, they’re hooked. Even though fans may swear they’ve heard this album before somewhere in the form of a different album in Angra’s career, Angra creates such engaging material that fans will have to hear it again. The atmosphere is everywhere and all over the place- mostly exciting- but there are the depressing and more heartfelt moments aside from just the energetic metal tunes. For newcomers to the band, they’ll like this if they enjoy groups such as Symphorce, the solo work of Jordan Rudess, or even Yngwie Malstreem.

SPV/Steamhammer
Reviewer: devilmetal747

Sep 25, 2010

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Angra – Aqua

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  1. Viderunt Te Aquae
  2. Arising Thunder
  3. Awake From Darkness
  4. Lease Of Life
  5. The Rage Of The Waters
  6. Spirit Of The Air
  7. Hollow
  8. A Monster In Her Eyes
  9. Weakness Of A Man
  10. Ashes

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