Angra - Aqua
SPV
Melodic / Progressive Power Metal
10 songs (49:22)
Release year: 2010
Angra, SPV
Reviewed by Kyle
Album of the month

In 2001, Angra shattered fans’ expectations as a band that, at that point in time, seemed utterly doomed. They had gone through a massive line-up change, losing a talented bassist and drummer, along with original vocalist Andre Matos, the defining member of the band. Yes, things were looking bleak for the surviving members of Brazil’s premier power metal band, but out of the ashes sprang new life, in the form of an album called Rebirth; while not necessarily an inventive record, it’s an exceptionally good one for a band that had only recently gone through a situation that would cripple most bands for life. Many fans refer to Rebirth as the start to the second era of Angra; now, nearly ten years later, the band brings us Aqua, and as it’s their first release in four years due to management complications, I like to think of it as the beginning of the third era of Angra. Much like Rebirth, it’s a great album that shows off some of the best facets of the band’s sound, though in the end it’s a little underwhelming when considering what Angra is capable of.

Aqua is a concept album based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest; According to Angra, the album is titled Aqua because of how water plays such a large part in the story, and how its different personalities – whether it be calm, rushing, or raging – reflect the music. This is certainly true, as Aqua is one of Angra’s most diverse albums to date, with both melodic ballads and fast paced power metal cuts, each expressing prog sensibilities and most including folk influences; There’s almost as many traces of folk music here as there were in Holy Land, which is a GREAT thing. The lyrics here are very well written, and it’s easy enough to determine that Aqua is a concept album from them, whether you previously knew that it was conceptual or not. Production is absolutely spot-on; Neither overloud nor overdone, the mixing here is simpler than that of Angra’s previous two albums, and while it’s not exactly old-school, it sounds both refreshingly straightforward and wonderfully crisp.

As far as songs go, nearly all are equal in quality with one another (In other words: Most of the tracks are really, really good). The intro track Viderunt Te Aquae is unnecessary and ultimately unfitting – A dark, atmospheric introduction is simply out of place on such a fun, bouncy album – but it’s erased from memory as soon as Arising Thunder comes in, plowing away with double-time drumming and melodic, technical riffing, as vocalist Edu Falaschi belts out a rather unique verse and a powerful chorus that is maybe a bit cheesy, but not as flowery as one would expect. There are several other fast songs on show here, with Awake From Darkness being my pick of the album, as it represents everything I love about Angra, including speed, technicality, and emotional melody. I’m truly hoping that this song becomes sort of an underground favorite of several fans. The next fast song, The Rage of the Waters, reminds me much of the material found on Angra’s previous album, Aurora Consurgens, with its unique guitar style, and is one of the heaviest songs on Aqua; the final one, Hollow, is the most progressive track here, chock full of off-time rhythms and strange melodies.

Most of the slower songs on Aqua are, thankfully, far from bad. Lease of Life is a beautiful ballad, with catchy drum work and wonderful piano playing that reminds me a bit of Holy Land’s title track. Spirit of the Air and Weakness of a Man fall into a common category as songs that are “sort-of-but-not-really-ballads”. Both definitely have ballad-like qualities and make great use of acoustic guitars, but at the same time both feature some heavy riffing and progressive tendencies. The two remaining songs, Monster in her Eyes and Ashes, are Aqua’s only weak links; while both have memorable moments (especially the violin playing in Monster), they ultimately fail to be memorable because of a lack of originality.

It took me several listens to “Get” Aqua - there are more ballads here than I’m used to on an Angra album – but once I got past my main gripe of “Aw man, I wish that they had stuck in just ONE more fast song” and learned to appreciate the slower tracks, I found it to be a highly enjoyable album and one that I am incredibly happy with as a huge Angra fan. The band is basically rebooting with this album, so it is to be expected that they play things a bit safer than usual here; but even so, there are enough surprising moments throughout Aqua to satisfy long-time fans. Angra is back, people, and they have not lost one iota of talent or writing ability; let’s hope that things are truly smooth-sailing for these Brazilian wonders from here on.

Killing Songs :
All except Monster in her Eyes and Ashes
Kyle quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Angra that we have reviewed:
Angra - Secret Garden reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Angra - Holy Land reviewed by Kyle and quoted 94 / 100
Angra - Aurora Consurgens reviewed by Andrew and quoted 95 / 100
Angra - Temple of Shadows reviewed by Ben and quoted 92 / 100
Angra - Angels Cry reviewed by Shane and quoted 76 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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