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–Angra: Holy Land (Retro Review, 1996)

Angra: Holy Land  (Retro Review, 1996)

(Lucretia/LMP)

This review was originally published in Kollnot Music #3, Summer 1996. Occasionally I will be revisiting some of my old reviews that I recently found in storage. I figure it’ll be fun to see how opinions change over time and to take another look at some great 1990s releases. 

In KM #2 I declared Angra’s Angels Cry as one of the greatest albums ever made. I realize now I was slightly off the mark with that statement: it is THE best album ever made! Fans of that symphonic power metal triumph have been waiting seemingly forever for the release of Holy Land  (especially in America) with expectations of the second greatest album ever made. While I can’t go that far, I can say that this new Angra CD is a crowning achievement and shouldn’t disappoint fans of their debut masterpiece. 

 HL is not a carbon copy of their first; in fact, it moves further away from their pure power metal style vocalist/songwriter/keyboardist Andre Matos began when he was with Viper. While the classical orchestrations, speedy riffs, dazzling leads and beautiful vocals are still on fine display, HL introduces several new pieces to the Angra puzzle. Lyrically, this is a concept album, about the discovery of the South American continent, whereas was not. Native Brazilian wind and percussion instruments are utilized to bring the story to life on songs like “Carolina IV” and “The Shaman.” The different influences of the various members are being utilized now, as the jazz element can’t be ignored on the title track, with Andre Matos’ piano sculpting an unforgettable lick. They have slowed the tempos overall, and the abundance of mellow songs causes the album to lack the intensity of Angra’s previous effort. 

But the sheer beauty and grandeur of this album is undeniable. The CD begins with a mesmerizing chorale, “Crossing,” originally written in the 1500s, and then the vicious attack of “Nothing to Say” is unleashed. Andre’s voice is breathtaking and piercing here, and the band shifts between speed metal and classical music with finesse. “Carolina IV” is the album’s centerpiece, beginning with a tribal drum beat and proceeding into 10 minutes of power metal ecstasy. “Make Believe” is a beautiful ballad, while the somber “Deep Blue” is reminiscent of “Lasting Child” from AC. “Lullabye for Lucifer” is the peaceful conclusion, with an acoustic guitar and inspirational lyrics: “On the sand, by the sea/ I left my heart to shed my grief/ A vulture came begging me/ Feed me with this piece of meat/ I won’t give away/ something I need.” –4/5

–Jonathan Kollnot 

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~ by jonnyboyrocker on September 11, 2017.

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