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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Angra: Rebirth


1) In Excelsis; 2) Nova Era; 3) Millennium Sun; 4) Acid Rain; 5) Heroes Of Sand; 6) Unholy Wars; 7) Rebirth; 8) Judgement Day; 9) Running Alone; 10) Visions Prelude.

Conflicts of egos suck, but where there are egos, eventually unavoidable. And it so turned out that the ego of frontman, vocalist, and keyboardist André Matos lost to the egos of guitar players Rafael Bittencourt and Kiko Loureiro. The rhythm section, apparently, sided with Matos, since they jumped ship together to form Shaaman; but three non-guitarists are a poor match for two guitarists, and the name of Angra remained with Rafael and Kiko.

Quickly recruiting a batch of new members — Felipe Andreoli on bass, Aquiles Priester on drums, and Eduardo Falaschi on vocals (whose principal prior claim to fame was that he almost became Iron Maiden's lead singer in 1994) — the mighty guitarists finally achieved their goal: transforming the once adventurous and experimental band into a thoroughly generic, stereotypical power metal outfit. Hooray for living by the rules.

As a generic power metal album, Rebirth would probably be decent enough if it did not call it­self Rebirth. Struck by the Three-Zeroes-Curse, the band decided that they were, in fact, among the chosen ones to whom God has personally entrusted the musical celebration of the upcoming new era; and thus, while there is no easily-defined «concept» to the album, its main vibe is a con­secrative one. Metal fans all over the world are invited to join Angra in a metal mass for the well-being of humanity. The basic idea is easily understood just by glancing at the song titles.

Usually, generic power metal consists of ripping off classical melodies, translating them into the language of metal guitars, and passing them for your own, only occasionally crediting the source in order for the average fan to accumulate some respect. Rebirth behaves suspiciously close to this model: 'Visions Prelude' is acknowledged to be «adapted from Chopin's Op. 24 in C minor» (actually, Chopin's Op. 24 is a set of mazurkas; what is meant is probably Prelude No. 20 in C minor, of the 24 Preludes), but God only knows how many of these other melodies have been pil­fered from Beethoven or Brahms or whatever lesser composer these guys must have studied. Re­gardless, some of these melodies might sound pleasant in a true symphonic arrangement — but set to an endless barrage of machine-gun chords and same-tone-using solo guitars, they make no impression whatsoever.

The new vocalist, unfortunately, fares even worse. Falaschi belongs to the old school of hard rock belters — his idols must have, at best, been Lou Gramm and Graham Bonnet, at worst, David Coverdale or Glenn Hughes. Or maybe not, but his vocal range and manner of using it falls in the same camp. Where Matos' shrill, thin, vulnerable, and at the same time loud and piercing delivery had lots of individual character, Falaschi is just big, fat, and flat. He does not particularly spoil the tunes he is assigned, but he could never hope to salvage a bad or mediocre tune by adding his own parts to it.

Predictably loud, thoroughly professional, inadequately pompous, Rebirth does not have one single song that I could write something useful about. If you like the simple waves of power me­tal, if you like them the same way that someone likes the vibes of classic symphonic music with­out being able to keep its themes in his head afterwards, Rebirth is for you. But if we insist that power metal, like any other metal or pop music in general, has its share of standouts and its share of flops, then Rebirth is, by all means, a flop. Thumbs down, says the brain; and I haven't even mentioned the lyrics — flatter than the flattest offerings from Matos. "New day shines, fallen an­gels will arise, Nova Era brings the ashes back to life; all over now, all the pain and awful lies, angels will arise back to life!" I am pretty sure I have even heard characters from Heroes Of Might And Magic speak lines with less clichéd wordings.

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