Temple of Shadows
Ah, Temple of Shadows. One of Angra's greatest works, and a classic power/prog album no matter who you ask. Along with "Rebirth", this album gave Angra the undisputed crown of power metal supremacy in South America. However, I think I'm getting ahead of myself, so I will digress.
"Temple of Shadows" is a concept album concerning a Christian crusader, "The Shadow Hunter", and his spiritual journey questioning the Catholic faith. Lyrically, this album is fascinating, and I feel that there is a great amount of thought and feeling poured into the music. Written by guitarist Rafael Bittencourt, the story of the Shadow Hunter, from the awe-inspiring "Wishing Well" to the speedy and furious "Temple of Hate", is spellbinding.
Instrumentally, the band has never been tighter. Dual guitar aces Bittencourt and Loureiro are in perfect sync as they spit out lightning solos, killer leads, glorious rhythm lines, and lush acoustic support. "Temple of Shadows" is much more of a power metal album than the band's two most recent releases, and the difference in tempo on fast tracks like "Spread Your Fire", "Angels and Demons", and "Temple of Hate" is remarkable. Save "Rebirth", this is the fastest release that Angra have ever produced.
Be that as it may, there are a number of incredible mid and slow-tempo offerings as well. The most remarkable being the absolutely jaw-dropping "Wishing Well". No matter the listener's preference in music, the band must be given credit for this spectacularly well-written tune. With a highly memorable, touching chorus and some really fine guitar work, this is probably the single greatest moment on an already formidably strong album (given my general distaste for ballads, this is lofty praise from myself).
Another song of great interest is "The Shadow Hunter". Brimming over with flamenco-styled acoustic guitar and folky percussive talent, it provides the Brazilian flavor that the band incorporates into their music so well. At just over eight minutes, it's also the longest song on the album, with several distinct sections.
I find myself dwelling, as you may have noticed, on the first half of this album. The more that i listen to the album in it's entirety, I am convinced that the second half just doesn't stack up to the first half, at least for myself. "Morning Star", "Sprouts of Life", and "No Pain for the Dead" are quality tracks all, but I find them failing slightly when compared to the more catchy, dynamic, and exciting songs that fill the first half. Now granted, this tendency fits the story of the album well, since the latter songs are more brooding, sorrowful, and emotional, and this might be the real reason that they don't excite me as much. These tracks are mellow and interesting, but without the depth seen in their latest release. An exception to this general rule is the more driving "Winds of Destination", featuring Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian with an excellent guest vocal performance.
Saying that the latter half of the album isn't as good doesn't much diminish the overall greatness of "Temple of Shadows" however. This is, after all, still Angra doing what they do best. It's a superb album that furthered the band's hold on the hearts of many. I hadn't listened to it in its entirety for a good long while, and it has grown on me. Excellence.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 9.0 out of 10