"Healing whispers of the angels bring the sunrise again..."
Thus sayeth the wise Edu Falaschi in the first few minutes of Angra's momentous return to form after parting ways with previous members Andre Matos, Ricardo Confessori (destined to return for 2010's "Aqua"), and Luis Mariutti. Just as many fans were left wondering what was to become of the band, "Rebirth" dropped jaws worldwide while baptizing the new lineup in a whole new high-octane style of power-prog that offered more punch and complexity than the band's previous efforts.
While the Brazilians previously established themselves as one of the premier metal acts in their home country with great records like "Holy Land" and "Angels Cry", the intensity of "Rebirth" left them alone at the top of the heap in their chosen genre. Not only did the band rebound quickly from losing half its members, but managed to write its strongest material yet. While the prelude/opening song combination has always been a strong point for Angra, "In Excelsis" and "Nova Era" take this strength to new heights, and the combination is one of my very favorites at the beginning of an album. Also known for blending tempos and incorporating native Brazilian elements and conventional symphonic sounds, "Rebirth" brings these sounds to the forefront, in addition to emphasizing the band's guitar work like never before.
Need evidence of the maturity of the band's composition? Look no further than the sublimely epic "Acid Rain", the breathtaking "Running Alone", or the superb blend of indigenously inspired melodies and power metal speed of "Unholy Wars". Even at their softer moments, the ballad "Heroes Of Sand" and the moderate title track, Angra has never to this day written more infectious and accessible material. The dual fire-spitting guitar attack of Loureiro and Bittencourt, always been a cornerstone, has manifested here in the fastest, most impressive example of their work together. From this point forward, it more or less became expected from them on every album.
"Rebirth" stands alone amongst Angra's catalog as being the one true example of pure high-speed melodic power metal that the band has produced. While highly technical, it doesn't have the pronounced progressive flair of the group's later albums, while simultaneously featuring much more bombast and dramatics than earlier efforts like "Holy Land" and "Fireworks". Along with the mighty "Temple Of Shadows", this is generally considered to be the band's finest work, and for good enough reason.
A couple of listens through will have any fan of fine progressive power on their knees, weeping and blubbering for mercy. Though it's a happy, religious-tuned, and rip-roaring power metal adventure, most metal fans will find something to appreciate on "Rebirth" (which is perhaps one of the most apt album titles I've ever come across). Some might call “Rebirth” the album that Angra produced before they "focused their energy" and created the epic “Temple Of Shadows”, but I think that this work was instrumental in phasing the band from one era to another, and what better way to do it than fill it with the galloping power metal that appears occasionally on albums across the rest of their career?
Angra is clearly pleased with this effort, and so overwhelmingly am I. As Edu stated for the band, it’s “time to fly”.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 4.75 out of 5