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Shaaman - "Reason" (CD)

Shaaman - "Reason" CD cover image

"Reason" track listing:

01. Turn Away
02. Reason
03. More
04. Innocence
05. Scarred Forever
06. In the Night
07. Rough Stone
08. Iron Soul
09. Trail of Tears
10. Born to Be

Reviewed by on August 18, 2006

"Intelligently crafted metal, with feeling, emotion and unrelenting power...what else could a metal fan want?"

2005 saw Shaaman's (note the second "a" in the band name, added in 2005 following some copyright issues) second full-length "Reason" hit the unsuspecting metal audiences. I say unsuspecting, since few would have guessed just how much the band have evolved since their debut "Ritual" in 2002.

The atmospherics have been layed back a level and the folkish elements from their past have pretty much disappeared in "Reason," giving way to a powerful blend of traditional metal with a touch of progressive played with a stunning level of proficiency.

While "Ritual" was a good effort, some of the songs could have used a little trimming and overall, one had the feeling that the band hand't truly found themselves yet in terms of songwriting, as testified by the somewhat overlong atmospheric sections on an otherwise flawless album.

Fast forward to 2005 and Shaaman have experienced a subconscious rebirth of sorts. Be it the extra "a" in the band name, or perhaps the tougher cigarettes, but this time around Shaaman have opted for a more straightforward and simplistic approach and it works amazingly well.

Opener "Turn Away" is the embodiment of the new Shaaman: powerful riffs, amazing melodies, memorable choruses and singer Matos at his best since his early days in Angra. Hugo Mariutti's fierce guitars and Ricardo Confessori's magnificent drum work are at the forefront of the mix hinting at the band's ambition to re-energize their music, while the keyboards, still present, have clearly taken the back seat. Title-track "Reason" explores the band's new progressive approach with some intricate guitars and melodies, while "Innocence" is one of the best ballads I've heard in a long time, with beautiful pianos and Matos' amazing interpretation of the moving lyrics. The cover of the Sisters of Mercy tune "More" is well executed, and songs like "Rough Stone" and "Iron Soul" truly captivate the listener with their musical proficiency and feeling. Andre Matos has always had a brilliant singing voice, but he has outdone himself on this album. Metal singers don't get much better than this.

The lyrical themes plunge the listener into self-reflecting moods and the overall feeling conveyed by the music is that of an emotional rollercoaster. Scratching the surface is an underlying feeling of honesty in the music of "Reason" which should be applauded.
Every song has its place on the album and despite the straightforward music, with every new listen, you manage to discover something new.

Undoubtedly, fans of Angra have been examining Shaaman with a magnifying class for a quite a while (after all, Shaaman was formed by 3 former Angra members) and the band has had to face the scrutiny of incessant comparisons with their Brazilian peers, rather unjustifiably earning the reputation of being Angra's smaller brother. However, I dare say, Shaaman has finally crushed those comparisons into darkest oblivion. Simply put, there's not a hint towards Angra in Shaaman's music, and the band has truly created a sound that is their own.

The occasional touch of Maiden appears once in a while, while bands like Dream Theater and Queensryche have probably had their fair share of influence in Shaaman's music. But combine those three bands and add a lot of...well, Shaaman, power, crunch and emotion and the stage is set!

Intelligently crafted metal, with feeling, emotion and unrelenting power...what else could a metal fan want? Be it traditional, progressive, speed or why not, even thrashier or gloomier metal you like - go find this album. You'll be doing yourself a favor. Shaaman's "Reason" is pure melodic metal at its best and one of the tragically ignored gems of 2005.

Highs: The immense power of the music and the captivating emotion throughout.

Lows: Some of the songs won't necessarily stand the test of time.

Bottom line: A brilliantly crafted metal album from start to finish.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)