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Angra - "Temple Of Shadows" (CD)

Angra - "Temple Of Shadows" CD cover image

"Temple Of Shadows" track listing:

1. Deus Le Volt! (0:52)
2. Spread Your fire (4:25)
3. Angels and Demons (4:11)
4. Waiting Silence (4:55)
5. Wishing Well (4:00)
6. The Temple Of Hate (5:13)
7. The Shadow Hunter (8:04)
8. No Pain For The Dead (5:05)
9. Winds Of Destination (6:56)
10. Sprouts Of Time (5:09)
11. Morning Star (7:39)
12. Late Redemption (4:55)
13. Gate XIII (5:04)

Reviewed by on April 5, 2009

"Some of the compositions may be a little weak, but the band plays them well, and for the most part, 'Temple Of Shadows' doesn’t really feel like a concept album."

Even though it’s their fifth studio album, "Temple Of Shadows" is the first opportunity US audiences have had to hear Brazil’s progressive on the verge of power metal act, Angra.

"Temple Of Shadows" is a concept album about an eleventh century crusader who begins to question the Catholic church, and with its turbo speed power metal sound, is inviting primarily to fans of DragonForce and Hammerfall. Still, there’s plenty to attract other listeners as well, since the album includes an all-star cast of guests like Kai Hansen (Helloween and Gamma Ray), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), and Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge). Despite so much goth influence, it’s surprisingly absent on the album, but there are glimpses of just about every other sub-genre.

The most complex piece is "Winds Of Destination," a track full of tempo and style changes. The song fluctuates from an intro worthy of the most discerning speed metal fan, to a sound almost like Queen’s "Night At The Opera," before transitioning into a brief bit of classic metal, then spiraling into a Megadeth patterned thrash, and finally, closing with symphonic instrumentals and Gregorian chants. Got all that? The most amazing part is that Angra manages to pull this off effectively in less than seven minutes, something most power metal acts seem incapable of doing.

Other highlights come in "Wishing Well," "The Shadow Hunter," and "No Pain For The Dead." While for the most part these are lighter sounding tracks, their sometimes film-score sound makes sense on a concept album, and the storytelling quality of the spoken vocals on "The Shadow Hunter" makes it a good epic track. Both "The Shadow Hunter" and "No Pain For The Dead" provide a good mix of mellow and more hardcore. Whereas in "The Shadow Hunter," a Spanish guitar and barely discernible drumbeat meet a soaring second guitar, "No Pain For The Dead" mixes pastoral-inspired orchestral sounds with bombastic power metal drums and guitars, and a truly incredible female backup vocal performance.

To a lesser degree, "Morning Star" also manages to combine seemingly opposite influences, with one guitar and drums banging out a thrash rhythm, while the other guitar is pure power metal. This one is the heaviest track on the album, and the polarization in instruments works rather well.

Unfortunately, not everything blends quite so well. "Sprouts Of Time" opens with weird jungle sounds and an ethnic drumbeat, but the rest of the track, save the guitar attempts to rescue it from the muck, sounds like salsa lounge music. The drums on "Angels And Demons" have a tendency to sound like die being tossed inside a tin can, and while the cinematic sound effects on "Gate XIII," which sound a bit too much like Arabian Nights meets MGM, may appeal to some folks, the mellow, acoustic guitar ending is an amazingly anticlimactic way to end the album.

Still, despite the occasional rough vocals - vocalist Edu Falaschi really should stick to the higher range at which he excels – the performance is pretty good overall. Some of the compositions may be a little weak, but the band plays them well, and for the most part, "Temple Of Shadows" doesn’t really feel like a concept album. Seeing how well Angra pulled off this album, I’m even more intrigued about their followup album, "Aurora Consurgens," which tackles topics like schizophrenia, suicide and sociopathy. Eccentric? Maybe. Something worth checking out? You betcha!

Highs: "Winds Of Destination" is a complex, full track that showcases the best Angra has to offer.

Lows: Lounge music sound on "Sprouts Of Time," and the anticlimactic ending on "Gate XIII."

Bottom line: A little bit of thrash, a bit more speed, and a healthy dose of power metal makes for a winning combination.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)