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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Angra: Temple Of Shadows


1) Deus Le Volt!; 2) Spread Your Fire; 3) Angels And Demons; 4) Waiting Silence; 5) Wishing Well; 6) The Temple Of Hate; 7) The Shadow Hunter; 8) No Pain For The Dead; 9) Winds Of Destination; 10) Sprouts Of Time; 11) Mor­ning Star; 12) Late Redemption; 13) Gate XIII.

Sometimes the simple bigness of the banality can transcend its flaws and turn certified crap into dubitable art. Of course, it is hard to imagine that the Falaschi-led Angra ever understood its own production as certified crap — but not at all hard to hypothesize that they were not too satisfied with their Rebirth, and thought that, just like Holy Land, with its pretense and mighty sway, was able to blow away the mild results of Angels Cry, so would the «rebirth» only be complete with yet another pretentious, monumental concept album.

All I can say, however, is that the concept blows — completely — and, by blowing, places Tem­ple Of Shadows squarely into the group of medieval-crazed metal albums that continues to feed the genre's poor reputation. I will not waste space on a detailed description, easily attainable elsewhere; instead, here is just a list of key­words. Spot the odd one out.

Crusades. Crusaders. Catholic Church. Atrocities. Genocide. Jerusalem. The Dead Sea. The Tem­ple of Solomon. Lost scrolls of wisdom. Jews. Muslims. Tits. Past, present, and future. Body and soul. Redemption. The Morning Star (not the newspaper). The Angel of Death.

The protagonist, notably, is called «The Shadow Hunter», which, along with all the references to the Temple of Solomon, seriously makes me wonder whether someone in the Angra camp had been previously indulging in Gabriel Knight 3: Blood Of The Sacred, Blood Of The Damned. But, regardless of whether this is just a coincidence, for me as a listener the concept goes nowhere, because, in order to figure out if it goes anywhere, I'd have to spend time analyzing it, and I have lots of better things to do.

As for the music, again, it is probably okay as far as generic power metal goes. They inject a little diversity — apart from the obligatory classical influences, there is some flamenco guitar (e. g. on 'Sprouts Of Time') and some mainstreamish balladeering ('Wishing Well'). There is plenty of the expected violent thrashing, and quite a few multi-part epics. But never once could I get rid of the feeling that all of this has been made on order. The fans want loud guitars, screeching singers, pathos, fist-pumping, mystical medieval imagery, and long songs that create the illusion of seri­ous art. That is exactly what they get. You a fan? You'll love this. I prefer to replay my Gabriel Knight — at least that experience allows for immersion, whereas the gates of Temple Of Sha­dows do not even give a hint of the possibility of opening. Thumbs (yawn) down.

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