Angra
Holy Land


5.0
classic

Review

by VTK USER (5 Reviews)
December 24th, 2009 | 9 replies | 6,256 views


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Angra fuses its distinct Progressive Power Metal sound with Brazilian Folk influences and unsurprisingly, creates a juggernaut of a Metal record.

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

The year was 1996 and São-Paulo-based Angra, although having released a single full-length album, had already achieved significant popularity in the underworld of Power Metal, even counting with a growing fan base in Japan. Their debut album, Angels Cry, consisted of relentless, unique Power Metal with Progressive and Classical influences. Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt's technical guitar play was plentiful and categorical while André Mattos' trademark high tenor (or to those mocking the man, "castrato"), emotionally-charged vocals added much to the fledgling band's sound. The participation of household names such as Kai Hansen and Sascha Paeth in the recording and production ensured that Angra would get the fame it deserved.

Instead of sticking to the formula that had granted them significant fame so early on, the Brazilian quintet (now counting with a permanent drummer, Ricardo Confessori) took a more daring path. Sascha Paeth was still one of the producers but the sound he was dealing with this time was significantly different., although symphonic interludes can still be found everywhere and André Mattos' signature singing is well-cemented,

But what IS so particular about Holy Land? For one, it is a conceptual record, with the underlying theme being what Brazil must have been like around the time the Portuguese accidentally stumbled upon the land and claimed it as their own (for those not too familiar with South American history, the album's cover art is a map of Brazil in the 16th century). The rest... well, Crossing, the minute-and-a-half long introduction, summarizes quite nicely what the album is all about. It is actually a part of a mass celebrated by 16th century Catholic composer Giovanni da Palestrina, with jungle noises persisting on the background. In other words, it tells the listener that the album is going to contain plenty of classical and folkloric sounds.

The album loses no time and jumps right into Nothing To Say (Note: the track's first thirty seconds is actually a continuation of the introductory song). At first glance, it seems that Angra is carrying on what they were doing in their debut album - unforgiving power metal with technical, elaborate guitar solos and some classical sounds. However, the album slows down once Silence and Distance kicks in with its soft piano intro. Although mid-paced buzzing guitars and orchestra join in later, Mattos' vocal delivery is the focus here. Caroline IV, Pt 1 and Pt2 are more versatile tracks, constantly swinging from mid-tempo riffage backed by deep, driving folk percussion to the swiftness and power of the guitars, spanning a grand total of ten minutes and arguably being an accomplishment within Progressive music.

Holy Land is certainly the highlight. No "power" metal can be found in here - it's a slow track filled with a smooth piano and a wide array sounds including whistling and a flute, all melting together with typical rock instruments into a grandiose yet touching sound. Some may hate Mattos' singing in here at first, maybe finding it too flamboyant or simply annoying but his flawless performance will sooner or later grow on the listener as he realizes his falsettos are in fact, the icing on the cake.

Angra delves back into a somewhat more familiar territory (faster) with The Shaman, although by no means they "play safe".Tribal drumming thumps behind the wall of distortion for most of the track and in the middle a fellow narrates something (possibly a ritual) in an unknown language, which aids in building up a mystical atmosphere. Make Believe takes its time and moves quietly and leans more on the rock-ballad side, nevertheless keeping itself interesting with its meditative lyrics and choosing to slowly yet steadily grow louder, culminating with a categorical guitar solo as the song closes.

Z.I.T.O. comes along, and boy, it comes fast and hungers for your ears' full attention. Palm-muted riffs, double bass drumming and breathtaking speed are the rule in here, with Bittencourt showcasing his sonic, virtuoso guitar-playing skills for more than a minute. Once again the album reduces its velocity, now with Deep Blue where the organ and (surprise!) Mattos' vocal prevail, this one could have been very well been performed in a medieval church... if the guitar duo did not come on at the four minutes mark; the song as a whole remains mellow and very pleasant to most ears. The album closes modestly with Lullaby For Lucifer, featuring nothing but Mattos' voice, an acoustic guitar and the ambient sound of docile animals and running water. If anything, it is an excellent song to listen to while sitting in a beach and contemplating the setting of the sun.

Holy Land is an ambitious record, and at no point it falls short of achieving its aim. To the contrary, as each song passes by, it reinforces the belief that the album has indeed succeeded. By making intelligent use of their trademark classical interludes, using André Mattos' voice to its fullest potential, deploying Bittencourt's and Loureiro's proficient guitar-playing skills when most fitting and employing folk influences to an intriguing effect, Angra created an indispensable metal album - even more so for Power, Progressive or Folk affectionados. This one is undoubtedly the band's best Mattos-era work. Angel's Cry and Fireworks are excellent records as well, but Holy Land vast, filled scope is unmatchable.

Credits:

Andre Matos - Vocals, Piano, Keyboards, Organ
Kiko Loureiro - Guitar, Backing vocals
Rafael Bittencourt - Guitar, Backing vocals
Lu*s Mariutti - Bass
Ricardo Confessori - Drums


Recommended Tracks:

Carolina Pt. 1/2
Holy Land
The Shaman


user ratings (110)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
related reviews

Angels Cry

Rebirth

Temple of Shadows

Fireworks
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Comments:Add a Comment 
VTK
December 24th 2009



76 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Back when I was younger, I thought this record sucked because Mattos sounded gay and loved Dragonforce because they played at 9000 bpm.

oh my how foolish I used to be

also, 3rd review!

pizzamachine
December 24th 2009



12568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review even though its a track-by-track - I pos'd. Also, that guitarist knows how to get it done!

VTK
December 25th 2009



76 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for the feedback. Bittencourt never disappoints. :D

ikarus
December 25th 2009



559 Comments


a tbt how coy. i only have aurora consurgens but it is pretty awesome, hows this compared to consurgens?

VTK
December 25th 2009



76 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

They're quite different from each other. The line ups are different (different singer/bassist/drummer) and Consurgens is much heavier and more aggressive. Falaschi sings harsher and in a lower register than Mattos does.

Although I personally think that Holy Land is a wee superior to Aurora Consurgens, they're both unbelievably good.

Holy Land is closer to Angel's Cry; Consurgens is closer to Temple of Shadows.

Disconnected
March 19th 2010



485 Comments


Carolina IV is one of the most awesome songs I've ever heard.

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2013



1773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think what makes this album so unique is it's atmosphere and sound all the way through. The Brazilian twist on songs such as 'Nothing to say' and the monumental 'Carolina IV' make for astounding compositions, and even when the band slow down to let the listener breathe for a few minutes, songs such as the beautiful 'Deep blue' show the band can work well with songs of all tempos.

Ending
January 15th 2014



1852 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sick album. Crossing rules. Love dem nature sounds.

manosg
April 3rd 2014



4666 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent and varied album. Proggy power done the right way.

Digging: Jan Akkerman - Tabernakel



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