Album of the Week 52-2015: Angra – Rebirth

For a country that has such passionate Power Metal fans, it’s remarkable that Brazil doesn’t have more bands of the caliber of Angra. Then again, not many bands in the genre worldwide are as good as Angra is. They have all the melodic qualities of European Power Metal bands, combined with the interesting songwriting of many Progmetal bands and something uniquely Brazilian – more on that later. Though ‘Aurora Consurgens’ might be my favorite due to the inclusion of some favorite songs, ‘Rebirth’ is every bit as good and probably the best representation of all aspects of Angra’s sound.

‘Rebirth’, as a title, shouldn’t be taken lightly. After original singer André Matos left the band, taking the rhythm section with him, many fans were afraid of Angra’s future. Matos’ replacement Edu Falaschi is a revelation though: his voice is much more powerful than the somewhat feminine tone of Matos and adds a little grit to the mix. Also, guitarists Rafael Bittencourt and Kiko Loureiro took care of most of the songwriting and that’s probably why the Angra sound is still very much intact, while openings to other musical opportunities are all around, especially in the progressive tinges that seem to be Bittencourt’s doing.

Opening track ‘Nova Era’ is like a second coming of the band’s classic track ‘Carry On’: an uptempo and upbeat Power Metal track with positive lyrics to set the mood for the record. That doesn’t mean the whole album is filled with happy-go-lucky tunes. In fact, a lot of the songs have a darker tone or at least alternate between brooding sections and more hopeful segments, like ‘Millennium Sun’ and ‘Acid Rain’ do. The latter even has distinct Brazilian percussion in its awesome middle section, something that is expanded on ‘Unholy Wars’, which has an intro akin to Brazil’s beloved MPB and moves between a pulsating verse and middle section and a very positive chorus.

Many Power Metal are on the receiving end of quite some ridicule because of their ballads, but it has to be said: Angra is really good at them. ‘Heroes Of Sand’ is a pretty standard power ballad, though executed well enough to be quite enjoyable, but the album’s title track builds amazingly well from a pure power ballad to a strong progressive Metal section and back, while ‘Millennium Sun’ also qualifies due to its somber segment for piano and vocals in the beginning. Falaschi’s slightly raw edge contributes greatly to the quality of those songs as well.

Even though this could be said for most Angra albums, ‘Rebirth’ really deserves to be in any serious Power Metal collection. ‘Angels Cry’ is generally considered their classic album, but since I prefer Bittencourt’s songwriting to Matos’, I have to vote for this one. Also, while the neoclassical elements are still there, the increased progressive sound also means that ‘Rebirth’ is slightly less predictable. Regardless, if you like expertly written and quite likely even better played Power Metal, this is the way to go. Many European bands could listen to this album in envy.

Recommended tracks: ‘Unholy Wars’, ‘Rebirth’, ‘Acid Rain’, ‘Nova Era’

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