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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Angra: Aurora Consurgens


1) The Course Of Nature; 2) The Voice Commanding You; 4) Ego Painted Grey; 5) Breaking Ties; 6) Salvation Sui­cide; 7) Window To Nowhere; 8) So Near So Far; 9) Passing By; 10) Scream Your Heart Out; 11) Abandoned Fate; 12*) Out Of This World.

One encouraging thing about all those Angra albums is that the further they go, the more esoteric subjects they choose for the underlying concept — right to the point that it becomes far more in­teresting and productive to talk about the genesis of those albums than it is to actually talk about the music they contain.

Aurora Consurgens, in particular, draws its title from a late Medieval alchemical treatise, pre­served in the form of an illuminated manuscript with all sorts of bizarre, proto-Bosch, pre-proto-psychedelic watercolour miniatures. But it goes somewhat beyond the predictable obsession that metal bands have with mystical medieval subjects — here, the middleman between the treatise and the album is Carl Jung, one of whose interests was finding the relations between alchemy and psychology; among other things, he used the imagery of Aurora to explore the «dreams : mental states» connection. And it is really Herr Jung to whom the album owes its existence, rather than the «pseudo-Aquinas» responsible for the original writing.

I have to admit the boys pulled a sly one on us here: without sacrificing the medievalistic candy-wrapper (album title and sleeve), they still managed to put out a record whose lyrics and general atmosphere cannot at all be called «laughable». The cliché-ridden, chaotic, fantasy-land concept of Temple Of Shadows does not really invite the jaded listener to scrutinize its inner depths; in the case of Aurora, however, I was at least intrigued enough to take a look at the lyrics — and, what do you know, they are quite tolerable.

As is much of the music, actually. Third album in a row shows this band will never surpass the level of Holy Land (unless a miracle brings Matos back), but, regardless, there is at least an ever so slight increase in the quality of brutal riffs on the rocking numbers and vocal hooks on the po­wer ballads. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that they are exploring more under­standable and more relatable topics: as exciting as it may have been to record a whole album about the mysterious «Shadow Hunter», did Falaschi, Loureiro, and Bittencourt actually feel their character, or was he just another cardboard figurine? But here, on 'Salvation Suicide', as they sing about a real guy contemplating this particular measure as a possible solution to all his problems, they definitely hit closer to home.

Some fans view Aurora as some sort of a minor sell-out after the stark conceptuality of Temple, quoting, among other things, a «softer» approach — there are, overall, more ballads and acoustic parts — and little things like the sudden outburst of completely non-metallic flamenco in the middle of 'So Near So Far'. I would view this, instead, as signs of hope, showing that the band at least give some thought, occasionally, to the idea of overthrowing the formula, even if, at this point, it has enslaved them on Ancient Rome level. This is still a thumbs down; but at least it is an album whose initial premise may prompt the non-hardcore metal fan to give it a second listen, and who knows what may happen then. Plus, I now know something about Aurora Consurgens — so far be it from me to say that Angra have no educational value. Do check out those minia­tures, by the way; Frank Miller sure got nothing on them.

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