Review Summary: Angra’s “Temple of Shadows”, is a great example of a band that knows how to approach songwriting, and pulled off an album filled with all of the cookie cutter power metal elements, while actually keeping it fresh.
Sometimes it’s easy to see why some genres get mocked around more than others. Let’s take power metal for example, whether it’s the high pitch vocal, the ridiculous lyrics or the constant mindless guitar wankery, it’s pretty easy to make fun of it. Some bands try to cover it by making a heavier brand of power metal or a more grandiose version of it, by adding symphonic elements. Some can pull it off(Kiuas, Nightwish) and some just fail miserably.
Angra’s “Temple of Shadows”, is a great example of a band that knows how to approach songwriting, and pulled off an album filled with all of the cookie cutter power metal elements, while actually keeping it fresh. The reason they got it right is, that they managed to mold their power metal sound into something more enjoyable, by adding a bit of experimentation. The flamenco intro to “The Shadow Hunter” the string quartet break in “The Temple of Hate” The salsa influenced bridge in “Sprouts of Time”, or the choir in Portuguese in “Late Redemption”, are all proof how Angra manages to stand out in a group of run of the mill power metal bands.
As a band, every member finds a way through the mix and delivers a great performance, except for the bassist, which is pretty common in metal. Guitarists Kiko Laureiro and Rafael Bittancourt, shred, chug and mellow out during the album, keeping a varied sound all throughout the one hour run time of “Temple of Shadows”. Drummer Achilles Priester, is a perfect show of precision and technique, and the great production on the drums makes him sound even better. The vocalist Eduardo Falaschi, deserves a special mention here, he delivers an astounding vocal performance. His voice really doesn’t stand out in a group of power metal vocalist, but the vocal melodies that actually are different than other power metal bands and the harshness in his voice , are what makes him put out such a great performance on this album, this is definitely as varied as a power metal vocalist can get.
“Temple of Shadows” contains some orchestral arrangements during the album. It’s not really your average epic arrangements, they’re mostly really minimalistic and do a great job in backing the music. Sometimes they do dwell into the more grandiose side you often hear in the genre, but it’s mostly really mellow arrangements. This aspect can be really appreciated in the track “No Pain for the Dead” which possesses a great symphonic break.
Even though this album is consistently great, there are some nitpicks that keep it from being even better. The first and second half of the album sound noticeably different. The first keeping a harder edge of power metal, the second going in a more experimental route with a mellower sound (The second half also being better than the first). Some tracks are obviously weaker than others (“Angels and Demons”, “Wishing Well”). The guest vocals by Hansi Kutsch in “Winds of Destination” really do nothing for the album, and the guest vocals by Kai Hansen in “Temple of Hate” sound strained and uninspired. Also, the album’s concept based around religion may not be to some people’s liking.
“Temple of Shadows” is a great way for Angra to show that they’re not just a B-list power metal act. They took a genre that’s really saturated and managed to write a great album. Inside the genre it can be considered a classic, since it really comes out on top compared to most albums which offer a similar sound. The great guitar, drum and vocal performance puts the band as top notch musicians that worry about more things than just playing fast.
Unnecessary guest spots
Can get a bit cheesy sometimes
Tracks to check out:
The shadow hunter
Spread your Fire
Winds of Destination