Angra - Holy Land
Limb Music Products
Progressive / Melodic Power Metal
10 songs (61:30)
Release year: 1996
Angra, Limb Music Products
Reviewed by Kyle
Archive review

I found myself at an unforeseen disadvantage this week when I sat down to write a review and discovered that, well, I had nothing to write. Nothing new, at least; and while at first I was dismayed at the fact that every 2010 release that had been recently brought to my ears had either been reviewed by myself or someone else, I soon realized that this was a perfect opportunity to write about the one un-reviewed album by my favorite band of the moment, Angra. As luck would have it, the album just happened to be my favorite of the Matos era: Holy Land. Simultaneously following and surpassing the flawed (though still classic) debut Angels Cry, this album is considered by many the pinnacle of Angra’s career (as shown by its second-place ranking in a recent unofficial poll in the Metalreviews forums), and for good reason; it’s essentially everything Angels Cry was and more, featuring better songwriting, an overall greater sense of melody, more evidence of traditional Brazilian music, and even a dash of influence from classic prog rock bands such as Yes. When all these elements are combined, it makes for an undeniably fun and surprisingly mature album that demands to belong in any power metal fan’s collection.

Holy Land’s Brazilian influence is immediately explained when learned that it is actually a concept album that’s centered around the discovery of Brazil, Angra’s home country, in the 1500’s. As such, a sense of adventure is brought to the album, and its unique percussion style combined with the heavy usage of trumpet effects by way of synthesizers brings images to mind of tropical beaches and dense, beautiful jungles; the atmosphere displayed here, sometimes obvious and other times subtle, is second to none. By this description you would think that you’re in for an epic and bombastic power metal album, and while you’d be partly right, in reality Holy Land is much more concerned with melody than metal; some songs, such as Make Believe and Deep Blue, possess almost no traces of metal. This would undoubtedly turn away many a genre purist, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s more than enough epic metal albums present in this world, and the fact that a band that’s not often labeled as anything other than metal would tastefully create an album that is likely metal for less than half of its total running time is simply wonderful.

But of course, Holy Land has its fair share of metal moments; first proper track Nothing to Say opens things on a speedy note, chunky palm-muted power chords intertwining with the steady double-bass drumming as Matos gives a powerful (though not uplifting, at least not in a Carry On sort of way) vocal performance. Z.I.T.O. is another fast-paced highlight, vocals dueling with keyboards to create interesting melodic layers that are simply irresistible. The true centerpiece of Holy Land, however, is the masterpiece that is Carolina IV; beginning with a proggy intro that sounds almost exactly like a Brazilian variation of Yes ( my favorite progressive rock band ever, by the way), it later transforms into an uplifting symphonic metal track, tremolo-picked guitars and double bass all the way, while Matos gives a powerful performance during the instantly memorable verse before making way for softer, female voices during the chorus. Add in more switch-ups throughout the song, along with a healthy helping of guitar solos, and you have what I consider one of the top three best songs Angra has ever written; normally I don’t care for the band’s “Epic” tracks, but dammit, Carolina IV is outstanding!

The rest of Holy Land is quite a bit mellower, but with shining moments such as the gorgeous and subtly technical Silence and Distance, the softly performed title track that occasionally swells in blissful waves of grandeur, and the mid-paced, bombastic style of The Shaman, this really isn’t a problem; the album is over all too quickly, and at the same time, each track is crammed full of so many joyous and surprising layers that the songs seem to last at least twice the length of their listed running times. Count the many various improvements over Angels Cry, including tighter production, more varied songs, and improved musicianship, and you have what is undoubtedly one of the most memorable albums of the MK I lineup of Angra. While it’s not, perhaps, the best starting point for those wanting their first taste of the band – for that, check out either Rebirth or Angels Cry - any fan of Angra would be missing out terribly in not giving Holy Land the proper amount of listening that it truly deserves.

Killing Songs :
All, but Carolina IV is simply perfect.
Kyle quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Angra that we have reviewed:
Angra - Secret Garden reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Angra - Aqua reviewed by Kyle and quoted 92 / 100
Angra - Aurora Consurgens reviewed by Andrew and quoted 95 / 100
Angra - Temple of Shadows reviewed by Ben and quoted 92 / 100
Angra - Angels Cry reviewed by Shane and quoted 76 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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