In spite of their huge following at home, Angra aren’t simply exclusive to Brazil. They’ve been a popular import for prog and power metal fans across the planet and this record shows us exactly why.
Their mastery of atmospheric changes asserts them as a metal force to be reckoned with at your own stormy peril. I say ‘stormy’ because Rafael Bittencourt was inspired by Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, so much to the point that Aqua is essentially a concept album based on it.
Of course the album had to have an Angra-special epic opening, which is eventually flooded by the intense solo work of Bittencourt on Arising Thunder – giving the result of a spectacular beginning.
A break into the sounds of piano and waning violins may be of some surprise when listening to Awake From Darkness, but importantly it precedes some guitar work that smoothly follows it. Lease Of Life resumes the mix of beauty and power, which seems to continue in well balanced cohesion for most of the album.
Spirit Of The Air, a song about the fairy-like spirit Ariel, starts with some lovely acoustic picking, blending potently into the electric thuds of guitar and percussion.
Aqua is technical, beautiful and certainly ambitious. A risk taken in confident strides has put it as one of the best metal releases of the year.