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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Angra: Fireworks


1) Wings Of Reality; 2) Petrified Eyes; 3) Lisbon; 4) Metal Icarus; 5) Paradise; 6) Mystery Machine; 7) Fireworks; 8) Extreme Dream; 9) Gentle Change; 10) Speed; 11*) Rainy Nights.

Anyone who hears Fireworks directly after Holy Land is bound to be disappointed — it is quite clearly a regressive album, abandoning the conceptual and extraneous elements in favour of a more straightforward all-out metal attack. No one has ever been able to explain why this happen­ed: no sooner had these guys opened up the doors of power metal to outside influences than some mystical force made them step back inside and bar the gates once and for all. Why?..

Once the initial disappointment fades away, though, it becomes possible to set out a different per­spective. So Holy Land seemed progressive and, on the limited scale of heavy metal, revolutio­nary, but it was mainly because of occasional sprinklings of elements that we do not expect to meet in heavy metal — such as the «tribal pecussion» of 'Carolina IV' — not because this was some radically groundbreaking synthesis of hugely different styles. Take these occasional sprink­lings out, and the distance from Holy Land to Fireworks is easily crossed.

And Fireworks isn't a bad metal album. Yes, the band does feel a bit stalled and confused, but definitely not washed up, and not giving up on their artistic influences, either. The opening thun­der of 'Wings Of Reality' cannot compete with the memorability of 'Carry On', but its symphonic vibe, with a nod or two to Beethoven, is still believable, and capable of taking the listener to all the required heights. The anthemic chorus of 'Lisbon' ("Oh, skies are falling down...") possesses the quintessential Angra stateliness; the seven-minute epic 'Paradise' could have used a little trim­ming, but otherwise its evilly distorted guitars and Matos' ironic delivery make up for a delightful Alice Cooper-ish sendup of fake morality.

It is also fun to find out that the fastest song on the album is, in fact, called 'Speed', and that its ly­rics justify the use of speed of searching for enlightenment, because "faster than light we will find a way out of the conscience" — so now we know the precious secret of speed metal, and why these guys are so fond of it. Play fast enough, and, in time, this will get you places you've never even suspected of existing. Of course, in this particular case, the insanely velocious 'Speed' only gets you to the end of the record (is that irony?), but who knows what you're getting next time?

I do believe that Fireworks deserves a thumbs up on the rational plane, and may even become a metal favourite on repeated listens — although, unlike Holy Land, it is hard to recommend it to anyone suspicious of power metal. It is unfortunate that it became the swan song of the original band, ending their union in a downward rather than upward movement; but, in the end, it is sort of nice to know it exists, because it is not a total waste of effort.

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