Angra - Secret Garden
Earmusic
Progressive Power Metal
10 songs (48:57)
Release year: 2015
Angra
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Although I've never been what you'd call a power metalhead, I've always enjoyed certain bands from the genre, and it appears that I've been missing a major name off my list after spending time with Brazilian legends Angra's latest album and delving into their back catalogue a little. Lacking several members from the band's earlier, classic period, and even without Edu Falaschi who sung on 2010's well-received Aqua, Secret Garden is nonetheless a more than solid album from Angra. It's aided by the fantastic vocal presence of Rhapsody of Fire's Fabio Leone, who shows off his range from low to high here, terrifically restrained to fit the music rather than resorting to his usual high-pitched melodramatics. In addition, the band have taken a progressive metal approach, with Dream Theater vibes here and there but generally transcending into their own territory thanks to the band's signature Brazilian folk elements, as well-integrated as ever.

Opener and first single Newborn Me is a terrific example of this, the sound of a respirator setting the scene before groovy riffs and backing keyboards slide in, melodic and inviting, with a venomous edge to Leone's vocals once they join. It all builds up to a terrific bit of technical power metal drama with a stellar chorus, and then turns proggy in the second half with widdly guitarwork and a folky interlude – a hell of an album opener. I can't see many power metal fans being disappointed, particularly once the following Black Hearted Soul ups the tempo and sticks closer to traditional power metal pomp. True, the thrashy guitar riff trading towards the midpoint err on the proggy side, but they're very well incorporated and build in an almost neoclassical fashion. And the band keep things varied, following this with mid-paced cruncher Final Light and catchy ballad Storm of Emotions, which reminded me of a fruitier Iced Earth!

The most Dream Theater-y track is Police cover Synchronicity II, sounding like one of the prog giant's earlier singles here, moving from catchy uplifting vocals to extended instrumental section. It's still distinctly not them, however, and any comparisons are soon forgotten once the terrific Violet Sky begins, a mournfully epic ballad with plenty of lead guitars behind the vocals. The weakest song is the title track, dominated by guest vocalist Simone Simons of Epica fame, making for a decent but forgettable orchestral ballad that could easily have been left off the nearly fifty-minute album. Upper Levels' Latin rhythms, proggy melodic noodling and bass twangs are far more interesting whether you're a power or proghead, and fortunately Doro Pesch's performance on Crushing Room is much better, her deeper voice mixing well with guitarist Rafael Bittencourt's, and giving the track a Blind Guardian vibe, albeit one toned down.

After that, the closing one-two of power metal stomper Perfect Symmetry and acoustic ballad Silent Call work excellently. One of the biases I hold against power metal is that it often seems to sound as samey as death metal at its worst, with few bands going the extra mile to stand out and have their own take on the genre. Angra are definitely one of the noble few, and Secret Garden is a terrifically-written album that's easy to listen to and immediately enjoyable. It's not the best power metal album of the year after Blind Guardian set the bar so high, but it's definitely a great album and solid proof of Angra's talents.

Killing Songs :
Newborn Me, Storm of Emotions, Violet Sky, Upper Levels, Perfect Symmetry
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Angra that we have reviewed:
Angra - Aqua reviewed by Kyle and quoted 92 / 100
Angra - Holy Land reviewed by Kyle and quoted 94 / 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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