Though the lead vocalists may have changed Angra haven't lost their appeal over the years. Now with the sought after Fabio Lione (Rhaposdy Of Fire, Vision Divine) in the role having commenced performances with the band in 2013, and appeared on the subsequent live release we find the latest Angra studio album Secret Garden, the first since Aqua in 2010.
Yes Angra isn't that Rhapsody Of Fire kind of band though neither is Vision Divine and I never doubted that Fabio is capable of also fronting Angra, so I went into this album with strong hopes. Vocally Secret Garden isn't all Fabio Lione as guest spots are from two prominent female vocalists that are Simone Simons (Epica) and Doro Pesch, plus Angra's guitarist Rafael Bittencourt also takes on lead vocals duties this time around and does it very well I might add. In another line-up change to the Brazilian progressive/power metal giant they do have a new drummer Bruno Valverde, Bruno brought added inspiration to the band and like those before him is another exceptional player.
Secret Garden has a modern/classic Angra melodic metal sound with those wonderful Brazilian musical influences such as the percussion, and there is a storyline as Secret Garden is indeed a conceptual release. That story follows the tragic events in the life of scientist Morten Vrolik and the changes/hurdles he faces in a search for happiness, such as looking at his beliefs and values.
"Newborn Me" presents us with a modern and powerful partly Kamelot like Angra, it's a great opener with clever lyrics and wonderful music, and that challenging instrumental section is something else. "Black Hearted Soul" is a more familiar Angra styled speedster as the band really fires up, then easing back in pace for "Final Light" where Fabio impresses again. "Storm of Emotions" is both powerful and moving, bonus track "Syncronicty II" is Angra putting their touch to the upbeat Police number with Rafael Bittencourt on lead vocals, it's quite well done indeed but I can't see myself getting the same mileage out of this as with many of the other tracks. Rafael returns for the different feel of "Violet Sky" and also the powerful "Crushing Room" where he is joined by female metal legend Doro Pesch, they really do complement each other and just for good measure Angra include another cracking solo. From that irresistible introduction "Upper Levels" presents Angra technical/vibrant styling's with a compelling feel and entrancing vocals. Simone Simons' enchanting vocals are so captivating on "Secret Garden" adding more variety to the album, though I was expecting her to be joined by Fabio this isn't to be. Angra's putting the throttle down again on "Perfect Symmetry" while the orchestral passage adds a nice twist in proceedings, and "Silent Call" brings Secret Garden to a calm conclusion.
Angra's Secret Garden is a must buy, if you liked Angra before I don't see Secret Garden changing your opinion just reinforcing that attraction, 4.75 out of 5 stars.
1. Newborn Me
2. Black Hearted Soul
3. Final Light
4. Storm of Emotions
5. Synchronicity II (Bonus Track)
6. Violet Sky
7. Secret Garden
8. Upper Levels
9. Crushing Room
10. Perfect Symmetry
11. Silent Call