ANGRA’s iconic debut, “Angels Cry”, turns 30 years old this year and if the band’s choice had been to celebrate the anniversary with the release of a new album that is still keeping the flame burning, all bright and high, well, they did a really great job!
Actually, ANGRA’s tenth studio album has been born out of sorrow rather than joy – hence the name, “Cycles of Pain”; the fact that it’s a strong, solid album worthily continuing their legacy doesn’t change. Since their previous album, “Ømni”, the band’s main composer, Rafael Bittencourt (guitars), faced the loss of both his father and co-founding member of ANGRA, Andre Matos, who sadly passed away at the age of 48. “In the last five years we have experienced a lot of pain, challenges, frustrations, glories and successes on a rollercoaster of emotions that became a huge cauldron of themes and inspirations.” he mentions.
As most songs of the album were written by himself and Felipe Andreoli (bass), whose first solo album, “Resonance”, proved the incredible range of his musical creativity, “Cycles of Pain” naturally threads between the classic power/progressive metal style and many daring ideas largely expressed in softer and slower parts of it, all clad in the gloomy gray concept of death – and whatever follows.
So, “Cycles of Pain”, as an intentional journey through eternal endings and beginnings, is unavoidably bittersweet. Yet, it proved to be a perfectly balanced album, dark and uplifting, melodic and aggressive, theatrical, dramatic and pompous, yet unfeigned and deeply honest. This is an album about ANGRA themselves, going through a difficult period, facing a great challenge and finally carrying on, victorious, unceasingly chasing their dream.
ANGRA may have nothing to prove about their value but they needed to overcome the difficulties of the pandemic, the sorrow and the isolation, and moreover, to show the world that the current line-up isn’t just capable of another good album but set the bar even higher and exceed any expectations. The stake was high! So, together with Rafael Bittencourt and Felipe Andreoli, vocalist Fabio Lione, second guitarist Marcelo Barbosa and drummer Bruno Valverde went under a significant amount of pressure while writing their second album as the third-generation members of the group.
Did they win the bet? Well, personally, I needed some time to have a say. ANGRA is second only to the mighty SEPULTURA when it comes to bands that led the whole Brazilian metal scene to worldwide acknowledgement and fame. They are one of the BEST bands out there, as far as progressive metal of euro-power style is concerned, so although “Cycles of Pain” has been out since November 3rd via Atomic Fire Records and the promo kit has been sent to me by our chief editor, Chris Papadakis, quite earlier, I preferred to give some additional and careful listening before writing a review about it. The main reason is that, in my opinion, as stated before, this was a release to show the band’s real potentials with their current line-up. The quintet of “Rebirth” reached their pinnacle with “Temple of Shadows”, one of the best, if not THE best album of South Americans metallers so far. Truth be told, after Edu Falaschi has been replaced by Fabio Lione and Kiko Loureiro left the band, there has always been a question of how far could ANGRA go – better said, a question of how FURTHER they can extend in the future.
The answer found in “Cycles of Pain” is that for such a band, THE SKY IS THE LIMIT! Having said that, I would agree that maybe ANGRA haven’t reached a higher summit with this one; not yet. But it’s an album that will prove to be a milestone for them – an absolute SUCCESS STORY of staying together, staying strong, bringing out a magnificent, multi-layered opus of technical and delightful prog/power metal. So, not only did the band made it but they also didn’t choose to play safe, on the contrary, they delivered what they envisioned. For that, we owe HUGE RESPECT to ANGRA for “Cycles of Pain”, as it is an album of absolute dedication and bold inspiration.
The band summoned a horde of talented guest musicians to contribute in the making of the album and they all did their very best; Fernanda Lira joins her vocal force with Lione’s screams in “Ride Into the Storm”, an ideal, dynamic opening track after Tefo Mion’s perfect dark choral intro of “Cyclus Doloris”. Lenine’s legendary, distinguishing voice fits perfectly in intricate, folkloric “Vida Seca” and Juliana D’Agostini’s piano performance together with Amanda Sommerville’s amazing vocals in “Tears of Blood” offer an EPIC closing for the album.
In between, we take pleasure in the power of “Dead Man On Display”, the catchy full-force energy of “Gods Of The World” and “Generation Warriors”, the ethereal beauty of “Here In Now” with the contribution of Vanessa Moreno’s vocals, while “Faithless Sanctuary” and “Tide of Changes” are examples of the masterful musicianship of Valverde and Andreoli, offering generous doses of pure pleasure.
The title track, “Cycles of Pain” is the epitome of ANGRA’s return, both musically and lyrically – an optimistic song, shining gloriously in an overall astonishing tracklist of a dark yet full of hopes and promises album.
And yes, I think that the best of ANGRA is yet to come; just wait and see…
Check the discussion about the album in our forum pages.