Angra: Felipe Andreoli (bass guitar); Rafael Bittencourt, Kiko Loureiro, Aquiles Priester, Edu Falaschi.
Personnel: Edu Falaschi (vocals, acoustic guitar); Kiko Loureiro (guitar, bandolim, piano, keyboards, percussion); Rafael Bittencourt (guitar, background vocals); Yaniel Matos (cello); Silvia Goes (piano); Aquiles Priester (drums, percussion); Douglas Las Casas (percussion); Dennis Ward (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Dennis Ward.
Recording information: House Of Audio Studios, Germany (01/2004-07/2004); Mosh Studios, Brazil (01/2004-07/2004).
Photographer: Marcelo Rossi.
Carrying on un-phased following the departure of founding vocalist Andre Matos, Brazilian metal institution Angra make their tenth release Temple of Shadows (and fourth sans Matos) sound like business as usual. True, some would charge that, as part of their "moving on" process since losing their adventurous-minded former singer, Angra's most distinctive progressive rock tendencies have grown thinner by the year. But despite succumbing to base power metal's uniform (and boring!) speed-flailings during Helloween-aping opening exercise "Spread Your Fire" and, later, the equally forgettable "The Temple of Hate," Angra still find plenty of opportunities to indulge their progressive "jones" via Yes and Marillion-recalling epics such as "No Pain for the Dead," "Morning Star" -- not to mention the album's awe-inspiring conceptual centerpiece "The Shadow Hunter." Comparatively speaking, more concise material such as "Angels and Demons" and the almost straight-up hard rock of "Waiting Silence" turn the focus toward memorable choruses and sparkling melodies to go with their more understated structures (think Kansas or Dream Theater). Not a bad transition until we settle into the at times over-saccharine balladry of "Wishing Well" or "Late Redemption" (featuring Brazilian pop legend Milton Nascimento), which regularly coast as close to Air Supply (bad!) as, say, Styx (good!), for inspiration. Taking into account all of the above, the songwriting results are still positive, more often than not, and vocalist Edu Falaschi, though not as powerful or majestic in his delivery as Matos, handily applies his grittier style to suit most of these songs just fine. But, Temple of Shadows does suffer from poorly-chosen production choices in terms of its drums (which sound as limp and inexpressively mechanical as one could expect from a human) and a bass that is seldom heard above the fleet-fingered guitar fray fired up by the band's central tandem of Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt. Yet, in the end, a few new tricks (the odd operatic soprano backing voice, AOR ) meshes with the old (the album's all-encompassing concept of an 11th century crusader questioning his faith, plus sporadic use of native Brazilian rhythms and syncopated chords in "Sprouts of Time") to remind us that, even in times of mixed returns, Angra still manage a most satisfying bounty in terms of progressive power metal. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia