Review Summary: The album that really got the neo-classical power metal ball rolling.
When this album was released, the rest of the metal world was gradually and tentatively incorporating classical elements in the frame work of metal songs, but Angra's
Angels Cry was the first full-blown fusion between classical music and the speed-obsessed genre of power metal. Bands like Celtic Frost, Dream Theater, Blind
Guardian, and even Ozzy, were dabbling in classical textures, but that doesn't explain why there is such a large proliferation of bands releasing albums in this style
now. 'Angels Cry' is really the origin of this whole explosion, for better or worse.
The songwriting on this album is mainly the work of singer/keyboardist/orchestral arranger Andre Matos. Guitarist Rafael Bittencourt makes a contribution on the
songwriting front with Matos on five of these ten tracks, but Matos is the real force behind this album. His vocals are rediculously high-pitched, and guaranteed to
annoy some people. He is strongly influenced by well-known singers like Bruce Dickinson and Michael Kiske. He doesn't quite have the commanding power of
Dickinson or the gay (in the non-homosexual sense) intonation of Kiske, but that is for the better on this album. His vocals perfectly fit the music, and he proves to
have a diverse enough range and strong emotional articulation so as to not totally get on your nerves like many power metal vocalists.
Musically, there is a lot going on; like any good power metal album, they are not just sticking to a formula. After the soon-to-be-obligatory classical intro ("Unfinished
Allegro"), the warp-speed melodic metal of "Carry On" races away, but its symphonic breakdown really foreshadows what this album will not be about
speedy power metal. The breakdown is very dynamic, even though it is played by Matos on keyboards, and the guitars are working in tandem with the classical
elements instead of just being another layer. Matos' vocals also reach their peak in terms of how high pitched the guy can physically sing. Definitely the highlight of the
The next track, "Time," is also noteworthy because it is the first to introduce the Brazilian elements on this album, which would play a bigger role on tracks like
"Never Understand" and "Streets of Tomorrow," helping give them distinction, as well as on the next Angra album 'Holy Land.' The other interesting 'event' in it is the
nearly inhuman way Matos stretches and harmonizes his vocals at 1:24. It really is something to hear. See, even total pussies can have amazing talents!
Also in need of mentioning is their cover of Kate Bush's (!) "Wuthering Heights." Although Matos' accent makes it difficult to understand all the lines (this happens
elsewhere on the album, believe me), it is still up to the standard of the original, and strangely fits in this album. I mean, Matos pretty much sings at the same register
as female singers anyway, so he can pull it off quite well. And there is a very soulful little guitar solo that might just bring a tear to the eye of anyone who's had to sit
through too many shred-power metal albums (I'm looking at you, Dragonforce, and you too, post-Matos Angra!).
Elsewhere, the hit-to-miss ratio is remarkably high. You would think that there would be at least one dud, this being a power metal album (a genre very susceptible to
serious inadequacies at times) and all, but the only real problem I can see is their is a general aura of pretentiousness which continues all the way through to the closing
track "Lasting Child." I won't bother with a complete track-by-track, song ratings are below.
'Angels Cry' also benefits from a near-perfect production job for 1993. You can actually hear the bass and the guitars don't sound messy or anything. I suspect this is because
of how meticulous guitarists Kiko Laureiro and Rafael Bittencourt are with their riffage and melodies. The riffs may be too 'lite' for some heavy metal fans, who might
think they are being too accessible, but guitars really aren't the focus of 'Angels Cry.' As I mentioned earlier, the guitars aren't independent of the orchestral
arrangements. They are used in ways that are necessary, instead of taking the whole album on their back, if you catch what I mean.
Those with an interest in power metal, neo-classical metal, will find much to love about this album. Frowning metal heads and shred freaks may not. Normal people with a stomach for occasional pretentiousness and a mild interest in melodic metal should definately take a listen.
Suggestions are welcome...this is my first real review on sputnik.