Angra - Holy Land

Year of Release: 1996
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 7971-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:41:00

Because of Larry D's review of the more recent Angra release Fireworks, I thought I'd check Angra out for myself. Fireworks wasn't available, but this album, Holy Land, was.

Having not heard Angra before, nor not being necessarily heavily into progressive metal - it makes up about 2-5% of my collection - I wasn't really sure what to expect. Again, there was Larry D's take, but...

I was pleasantly surprised. This really is a classy act, even down to the album's packaging (which is somewhere between Kansas' Point of Know Return and David Arkenstone's trilogy of Guardian disks. (Yes, Arkenstone is a "new age" artist, but I'm talkin' packaging). The sleeve/cover is a fold out map...old world 2d atlas, actually... on one side and lyrics and info on the other. Neat, compact, but difficult to slide in and out of the jewel case.

But what about the music? My feeling is this - take a dash of Kansas, a dash of Iron Maiden, a dash (or two) of Dream Theater, a dash of IQ, a dash of a symphony and a little South American flavor, mix, and you get Angra (that last bit not surprising given their Brazilian roots).

Holy Land is a concept album, rich with imagery and feeling. And very textured - to me, this is where the Kansas comparison is. I can recall listening to PoKR and hearing new details each time. This is that rich.

Ricardo Confessori is an inventive drummer - his percussives are one of the highlights for me (even when he wasn't playing 'em, he arranged 'em). On the few occassions where the drums provide the the typical dum, dum, dum, dum rhythm, it seems blah. Of course, this is so the guitar parts are highlight, but...such a contrast.

Andrè Matos has a very good voice - accented at times, but just barely. Fortunately, he can hit the higher notes with ease and without being shrill.

"Carolina IV" is perhaps the highlight - or highest light - of this album. A journey through different meters, moods, and tones, etc...all fitting perfectly together. Here you can hear so many different influencing elements - great harmonies, keys, guitars, orchestration... if anything is missing it's a brass section. There are moments when I expected a few trumpets here...but there's violin, 60's-feel harmonies, Matos' voice plaintive and forlorn... and except for the heavily guitars, a beginning that could fit on an Enya chant rides under the current of Matos' voice.

Now, don't be put off by mentioning two "new age" artists in the same metal just shows how broad and colourful and deep Angra's musical palette is - the same rhythm opens the title track, although here played on flute and piano. Very, very, classy.

I shouldn't be remiss in mentioning the other musicians on this excellent disc - Kilo Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt provide the guitars - and they provide those things that I like in a guitarist - expressiveness, emotion, warmth. Luis Mariutti is the bassist here, and while he only gets a name check here, his absence from this disk would certainly be noticed. Matos also plays the keys and he's one of the better keyboardists I've heard in a while.

Where matters of the heart from a part of this disk, the heart of it is more adventure - whether this is all extended metaphor or not I won't get into, because it could even be a metaphor for a metaphor. Isn't that idea worth exploring?

I didn't expect to like this, but I do. And I'd recommend it to fans both of progressive metal and of neo-prog... (there are times when Matos makes me think of IQ's vocalist Peter Nicholls)... to anyone really.

Crossing (1:55) / Nothing To Say (6:20) / Silence and Distance (5:34) / Carolina IV (10:33) / Holy Land (6:26) / The Shaman (5:23) / Make Believe (5:51) / Z.I.T.O (6:09) / Deep Blue (5:47) / Lullaby For Lucifer (2:43)

André Matos - vocals, piano, keyboards, and organ
Kiko Loureiro - guitars
Rafael Bittencourt - guitars
Luis Mariutti - bass
Ricardo Confessori - drums
Sascha Paeth - computer and keyboard programming
Tuto Ferraz - congas, djembe, timbales, brush snares, clave, triangles, repinique, toms
Castora - percussive effects, vocal effects, whistles, tamborine
Pixu Flores - berimbau
Ricardo Kubala - viola
Paulo Bento - flutes
Ben Bishcoff - didgeridoo

Reaching Horizons (1992) (Demo-Tape)
Angels Cry (1993)
Holy Land (1996)
Freedom Call (ep) (1996)
Holy Live (ep) (1997)
Fireworks (1998)
Rebirth (2001)
Hunters And Prey (ep) (2002)
Rebirth World Tour - Live in Sáo Paulo (2002)
Temple Of Shadows (2004)
Aurora Consurgens (2006)
Aqua (2010)
Best Reached Horizons (2012)
Angels Cry - 20th Anniversary Tour (2013)
Secret Garden (2014)

Rebirth World Tour - Live in Sáo Paulo (DVD) (2003)
Angels Cry - 20th Anniversary Tour (2013)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin BR

Added: August 10th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1195
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]