Secret Garden Review

artist: Angra date: 01/12/2015 category: compact discs
Angra: Secret Garden
Released: Jan 16, 2015
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Label: Universal Music, Edel Music
Number Of Tracks: 10
Brazilian power metal group Angra have undergone a severe lineup alternation since their previous studio album, but still manage to maintain their identity on "Secret Garden."
 Sound: 7
 Lyrics: 7
 Overall Impression: 7
 Overall rating:
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review (1) pictures (1) 8 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7
Secret Garden Featured review by: UG Team, on january 12, 2015
5 of 6 people found this review helpful

Sound: Changes in personnel are bound to happen in a band; as any metal fan can elaborate that even the heavyweight names within the genre aren't excluded from such alternations, however that doesn't make the transition any easier for dedicated followers. Brazilian power metal collective Angra are one of the latest to undergo such a move, having recently announced the departures of longtime lead vocalist and core songwriter Eduardo Falaschi, who appeared on the band's previous four studio albums over the course of a decade. Also having departed is drummer Ricardo Confessori, who first appeared on the band's sophomore effort "Holy Land" back in 1996. With such a vacancy within the lineup, some followers may have been quick to anticipate Angra's dissolution, however with the remaining trio of guitarist and founding member Rafael Bittencourt, guitarist Kiko Loureiro, and bassist Felipe Andreoli wanting to persevere, the power metal group have enlisted the assistance of several prominent talents for their newly released eighth installment.

"Secret Garden" serves as Angra's first full-length offering in three years, as well as the first to include the contributions of drummer Bruno Valverde and vocalist Fabio Lione, recognized for his previous work with Rhapsody of Fire, Labyrinth and Ayreon, amongst others. The album is appropriately introduced with "Newborn Me," which could be interpreted as an autobiographical statement from the members of Angra. The band's synthesizer-laced heavy metal approach remains alive and well throughout these ten new compositions, and the opening number is no exception, where after a climactic build up transitions into a high octane number driven by ferocious drum kicks and blistering arpeggios. Lione's addition to the band quickly proves to be a welcome one, with his operatic style blending well with the remainder of the power metal derivative effort. 

Such selections as the dueling "Black Hearted Soul" and the explosive "Final Light" continue to showcase this stylistic attitude, whereas "Storm of Emotions" brings both the tempo and the ferocity of the entire album down to a reflective power ballad pace. "Violet Sky" resuscitates the atmosphere of the record by introducing an early Queensryche-influenced feel, with echoing chord progressions and brooding vocals soon evolving into an upbeat rocker. Epica lead vocalist Simone Simons makes an appearance on the album's title track, "Secret Garden," and while she is a more than capable and talented singer, Simons doesn't quite coalesce well with Lione's singing style, which makes for a somewhat awkward performance. In contrast, the engaging duet with Doro Pesch on "Crushing Room" serves as a clear highlight on the album, and keeps the momentum flowing forward. // 7

Lyrics: It's never an effortless task for a singer when you're introduced into a band with a longevity and reputation similar to Angra, however Fabio Lione has a following of his own, and his career has had a few previous stints as a replacement vocalist, so this is a position he's likely more than comfortable with. Any emotions to the contrary aren't apparent in Lione's vocal performance throughout "Secret Garden," where he is found nailing some impressive operatic refrains with ease, while effortlessly alternating to a more reflective approach for the album's melodic ballads. // 7

Overall Impression: There are plenty of ways in which the members of Angra could have made their eighth studio album into nearly fifty minutes of disappointment, however this fortunately isn't the case on the band's newly released effort, "Secret Garden." The introduction of drummer Bruno Valverde and vocalist Fabio Lione prove to be beneficial to Angra's songwriting chemistry, and considering the band's recent lineup changes work stronger than some could anticipate. // 7

- Lou Vickers (c) 2015

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