Angra: Aqua

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Angra: Aqua
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Angra: Aqua
Power Metal, Progressive Metal
SPV Records
September 29th, 2010
Release length: 49:21
Website
Youtube
Angra has been around since 1992, and since then has gone through very minimal line-up changes, and has essentially kept their signature blend of Power Metal and Progressive Metal through the years. Over these years, Aqua only marks the group’s seventh full-length in a long history of excellent releases, as well as a surplus of EPs, singles, and a few demos and live materials. HGiven the group’s outstanding track record, it’s hard for any an of the band, or just anyone who appreciates their hard work and dedcication to their craft over these years, to expact anything less then a solid Metal release. On many levels, Angra delivers another hard hitting release with Aqua, but there is a slight down side to this album that holds it back, but luckily not all too much.

Aqua starts off nicely with the introductory track “Viderunt Te Aquae”, which start off with the sound of rain falling, obviously to reflect the album title, and then some female choir singing as this one minute introduction comes to it’s close and hammers into the impressive “Arising Thunder”, mixing well with the music of the song and not leaving a tacked on feeling to that first minute. All of this sets up the album nicely with it’s hardened Progressive edge and well fitting Power Metal vocals that never go over the top, but show some great range through the more higher pitched performance that, during other tracks like “Awake from Darkness”, sometimes will briefly go into a deeper voice to match any stern aspect to the song, such as that one’s chorus reaching it’s end. “Awake from Darkness” also features a random moment a little more then half way through where the music pretty much stops, and is replaced with a beautiful violin and piano performance. This, too, may off as tacked on at first, but it works brilliantly with the following guitar solo that continues the pace of that beautiful moment along with the already established uplifting music of the song. However, this would have made for a far more fantastic closing to the song then where it wound up being stuck, as it does wind up taking a bit from the end of the song when it goes right back to it’s normal pace and incorporates the chorus once again, especially since the following track, “Lease of Life”, kicks in with another piano and violin medley that works to create a somewhat haunting, yet slightly mainstream sounding, start to the song.

As far as the Progressive aspect of this album gosw, the first four tracks or the release really set the tone for it. While much of the music here does retain a heavy Power Metal foundation, there’s a good amount of changes in the flow to cater to the traditional structuring of Progressive Metal, but they are ultimately used properly, though, in the case of “Awake from Darkness”, could have been handled a little better. All of the material has a nice element of beauty that is practically a staple for the band, and it doesn’t show any brighter then with the simpler upbeat Progressive track “Spirit of the Air”. This track is easily one of the lightest off the album, and in all actuality, it kind of side swipes the listener out of nowhere due to it coming off more as a kind of power ballad then anything else thanks to the use of traditional Angra styled lighter Power Metal mixed with Progressive elements of classical music, even choir singing, other classical instruments, and acoustic guitars that compose the bridges of the song. However, it’s the keyboards on this song that really wind up setting the song up, as they kick start to song and prepare you for what is coming, and they appear again prior to the guitar solo, which is yet another beautiful solo that goes along the lines of the one you hear in “Awake from Darkness” after the piano and violin bridge. This song shows the band’s talent to take such a simple song and actually make it hold the listener’s attention until the very end, despite all the instrument changes and the like. Of course, all of this changes with “Hollow”, which brings the band’s harder edge that started the album off back into the mix, and actually takes it a little further with some hard hitting guitar chords that just slam away at the listener to create a more darker sound regardless of the uplifting performance by the vocalist.

But, as stated, this album does wind up having a bit of a downfall to it, but given how strong the music is, it doesn’t really hurt the album in the long run. The recording quality of Aqua winds up being a bit too clear and takes away some of the bite of some of the songs, and also hinders some of the lighter material on here like “Spirit of the Air”, making those songs a little less enjoyable on your first time through. This doesn’t mean these tracks simply are not enjoying, you just need to give the quality time to grow on you. In the end, it’s not actually that bad a problem, but having such a clear quality to the point where you can barely hear the bass, and even the vocals sometimes sound a little lackluster at moments, like during the chorus of “Hollow”, it does leave one yearning for a stronger production for the album then what has been given. This also winds up leaving what could have been a very pivotol track on the album coming off as if it were filler. “Wakness of a Man” winds up sounding hollow, as well as a bit uninspired in the long run, which is hard to accept here since it does wind up fitting in with the rest of the album’s music when you break everything down. Other then that song, there should be few moments on the album where the production quality will actually hurt the recording past your first time through with it.

For fans of Angra, they will find comfort in another solid album with Aqua. The only problem that you can forsee with this release is that, due to the rather clear production quality, it makes some of the songs just not sound all interesting. Either way, there’s a good amount of what makes Angra presented here, and this release continues on as if it were some sort of Progressive Metal opera at times thanks to the guest vocals and classical instruments that are incorporated throughout to create some very moving passages in botht he faster, darker songs, as well as the softer cuts on this release, with plenty to go around to wet the Progressive and Power Metal fans palettes.

01. Viderunt Te Aquae – 1:01
02. Arising Thunder – 4:32
03. Awake From Darkness – 5:54
04. Lease of Life – 4:30
05. The Rage of the Waters – 5:34
06. Spirit of the Air – 5:23
07. Hollow – 5:30
08. A Monster in Her Eyes – 5:15
09. Weakness of a Man – 6:12
10. Ashes – 5:12
Overall Score: 7.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by SPV Records via Freeman Promotions.