earMUSIC [Release date: 16.02.18]
Despite releasing eight albums since 1991, Brazilian band Angra’s symphonic/prog metal is a new sonic experience for me. Ninth album ‘Ømni’ is for the most part a pretty impressive outing within the genre.
The album holds absolutely nothing back in terms of performance and production values. From the opening lead guitar salvo of ‘Light of Transcendence’ to the closing strings of the instrumental ‘Ømni – Infinite Nothing’, Angra chuck the kitchen sink at the project.
Highly technical arrangements are interspersed with symphonic interludes, sweeping backing vocals and musical versality. The mix of classical, rock, prog, moments of thrash and splashes of Latin music creates an ambitious soundscape.
Sometimes the influences come together in sublime passages, such as on the ballads ‘The Bottom Of My Soul’ and the blues-tinged ‘Always More’. The classy ‘Magic Mirror’ is also a highlight. ‘Caveman’ has South American rhythms and chants to the fore against a catchy keyboard and guitar refrain.
Sometimes the cocktail work less well. ‘Black Widow’s Web’ is not an easy listen and has the most unconvincing death growl vocal I have ever heard! And parts of ‘Insatia’ sound a bit too much like the chorus line of an amateur dramatic society.
The album finishes well with a pair of good quality prog ensembles with some fine guitar moments: ‘Ømni – Silence inside’ and the portentous ‘Ømni – Infinite Nothing’.
Founded by guitarist Rafael Bittencourt, the rest of the band comprsises Felipe Andreoli (bass), Fabio Lione (vocals), Marcelo Barbosa (guitar) and Bruno Valverde (drums). The album was recorded in Sweden with Jens Bogren, who also produced the previous album ‘Secret Garden’.
The team has combined to produce an album that is well played and sounds bright throughout. The theatrical vocals are not to my taste, but there is nothing wrong with the technique, phrasing, commitment or power on display. And a word for Valverde’s epic drumming which is nothing short ferocious on every single track.
There is plenty to enjoy here and the album should go down well with fans of the genre. Check out their live show at the Borderline on 17th April. ***½
Review by Dave Atkinson
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