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Sunday, September 2, 2018

Angra: Ømni

ANGRA: ØMNI (2018)

1) Light Of Transcendence; 2) Travelers Of Time; 3) Black Widow's Web; 4) Insania; 5) The Bottom Of My Soul; 6) War Horns; 7) Caveman; 8) Magic Mirror; 9) Always More; 10) Ømni: Silence Inside; 11) Ømni: Infinite Nothing.

General verdict: The usual post-Matos Angra delivery — impeccably forgettable power metal whose modest catchiness is no match for its deadpan seriousness.

Before embarking upon this review, I carefully re-read everything I had to say about Angra's previous album, Secret Garden, and now I have a good pretext for keeping this one short and sweet — because nearly everything I wrote about that one applies to this one. There is a serious difference concerning the line-up: founding father Kiko Loureiro finally had enough (and, as they say, went to joing Megadeth, which should probably be counted as a significant upgrade for the man). His replacement is Marcelo Barbosa, a viciously melodic shredder but, as far as I can tell, not much of a songwriter or trend-setter. But that's okay, since most of the songs on the previous record were written by Bittencourt anyway — nowadays, the sole surviving member from the classic original line-up.

Other than that, what we have here is yet another fairly generic — and, as far as generic goes, fairly consistent — power metal opus, this time apparently based on the familiar concept of AI overtaking human intelligence in the near future; the last time I gave a damn about Angra lyrics, though, was on Holy Land, and I see no reason to get involved now. The songs are mostly one speed-riff-fest after another, with plenty of symphonic guitar posturing and ecstatic singing from Fabio — loud and robust, but who is really going to go crazy over Beethoven influences in the main melody of ʽLight Of Transcendenceʼ in 2018?

Occasional oddities begin to attract attention around the third track, which features guest vocals from Brazilian pop star Sandy in the intro and outro, and then, in a startling twist, Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz and her gurgly growling vocals in a call-and-response duet with Fabio — I think this is the first time we encounter growling on an Angra album, and I am not sure it should count as anything more than a novelty; but then, what is really to distinguish one late-period Angra album from another other than novelties? (And, for that matter, a few bars of Alissa's growling are arguably more fun than having to sit through an entire album of Arch Enemy).

Another eyebrow-raising track is ʽCavemanʼ, which starts out with an unusually gruff industrial / math-rock riff punch — but then segues into a bunch of tribal percussion and (presumably) indigenous Brazilian chanting, which clearly brings to mind the style of Holy Land, which the band was indeed eager to invoke. Unfortunately and predictably, the song never lives up to the level of Holy Land, but at least it is an effort to break out of the rut — as is ʽMagic Mirrorʼ with its romantic piano interlude, and ʽAlways Moreʼ, a jazz-folk ballad that completely dispenses with metallic formalities and shows that this band is capable of colorful pop riffs as well.

But all of these elements are still relatively minor: there can be no doubt that, in general, Angra are still happy as heck to work within a safely established formula, and that formula is still not enough to convince me that power metal (or, at least, this particular brand of power metal) could ever be taken seriously — that is, to the point of invoking a cathartic state. If you are already a fan of Angra, Ømni delivers the goods with all the efficiency of a truly loyal customer service; but that's about all the album does. Well, that and it also replaces O with a more difficult Unicode, merely to make things look a bit more Scandinavian... haven't those guys always been from Brazil, though? Took them quite a while to graphically acknowledge their debt to the land of ice and snow, I must say. 


  1. Typo: "went to joing Megadeth".

  2. I do have to wonder why this gets the green verdict after apparently doing everything that merited a thumbs-up for Secret Garden.