It goes without saying that the vast majority of metal bands will never feature Milton Nascimento or any other major Brazilian pop star on one of their albums. But Angra did exactly that when, in 2004, they featured none other than Nascimento himself on "Late Redemption" (from the Temple of Shadows album). And the fact that Angra, like Sepultura, have been willing to incorporate Brazilian elements at times has made them stand out in the metal world. But while the brutal Sepultura are known for alternative metal and thrash metal, Angra have favored a melodic power metal/thrash metal approach -- and that outlook generally serves them well on Aqua. This 2010 release is mildly uneven, but when Aqua really gets going, the results are quite satisfying. There aren't a lot of bands out there that have been influenced by Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, and Helloween as well as Dream Theater, Kansas, Yes, and Marillion but could also tell you who Ivan Lins, Gilberto Gil, and Djavan are; Angra, however, really are a band with power metal, prog, and Brazilian pop influences, and while Aqua doesn't beat the listener over the head with those Brazilian pop influences, they can definitely be found if one is paying close attention. The more Queensrÿche/Helloween-ish parts of Aqua pack plenty of power metal muscle, and Angra's prog instincts flow freely on nuanced tracks such as "Spirit of the Air," "A Monster in Her Eyes," "Hollow," and "Lease of Life." It should be noted that Aqua is a concept album that was inspired by William Shakespeare's play The Tempest (which is believed to have been written around 1610-1611, roughly five or six years before his death). One thing that can go wrong with concept albums is that songs can have a problem standing on their own, but thankfully, that usually isn't a problem on Aqua. Most of the selections work well as individual songs even if one is unaware of the Shakespeare concept, and hasn't heard the entire album. In other words, "Hollow" is meaningful even if one hasn't heard "A Monster in Her Eyes" or "Ashes," and "Spirit of the Air" is a success regardless of whether or not one has listened to "Weakness of a Man" or "Awake from Darkness." Aqua is not Angra's best or most essential album, but all things considered, it is a respectable outing from this Brazilian power metal/prog metal combo.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson