Age Of Artemis – Overcoming Limits
Earlier this month I talked about an undercurrent in (Brazilian) power metal taking the sound of the classics to a new, darker level. For every progression there is a continuation, and Age Of Artemis is a prime example of a band faithfully following in the favorable footsteps of their idols. Not to pass them off as a throwaway clone, but Overcoming Limits ironically comes across as pretty similar to the tone of Angra’s Rebirth and everything it influenced more than it overcomes any limits.
Of course anything that vaguely resembles Rebirth is bound to be at least a shade of brilliant and this debut from the Brazilians does nothing to disprove that theory, on the contrary. Striking a balance between the Angra milestone and Shaman’s Immortal, Age Of Artemis uses the formula to craft an excellent collection of creative songs within a well-established cadre. Shaman of course sprang directly from Angra and the reference is mostly here because of singer Alírio Netto’s uncanny vocal resemblance to Thiago Bianchi. Which means nothing less than that he’s terrific.
The songs are that energetic brand of “Spread Your Fire” progressive power metal that can transform any trivial household activity into a manic episode or a battle for the control of your muscles. Axemen Gabriel Soto and Nathan Grego are Loureiro and Bittencourt reborn, and a part of me suspects that they are clones. If the word ever gets out, The Boys From Brazil will no longer refer to armies of mini-Hitlers, but to legions of awesome guitarists. Anyone who got that analogy should have their brains checked/removed. The keyboards only add to the majestic and uplifting atmosphere and luckily do not drown out the splendid guitar work at any point.
Faster-than-lightning describes most of the material here, and I’d make special mention of opener “Echoes Within”, the bouncy “Break Up the Chains”, the raw and moving epic “Gods, Kings And Fools” and closer “Till The End”, but that would be pointless, since nothing here deserves to dodge the spotlight. Even the beautiful ballads “Take Me Home” and “One Last Cry” stand out among their peers. The overflow of whirlwind melodies results in the album needing a few spins to really sink in and because of the clever 42 minute running time the replay value is as high as that of Die Hard (Editor’s note: oh BAD comparison 😛 ). You’ll want to know these songs like you know every John McClane one-liner and that takes exercise and devotion.
Age Of Artemis may play it safe compared to some of their adventurous countrymen, but a formula is only dusty and stale when it’s drawn upon for uninspired imitation instead of skillful application. Not every band needs to rebel against the rules of metal and sometimes I can be just as content with a band that knows its history and heritage and pays homage to it in the most wonderful and imaginative way. When Shaman’s Immortal hit I advised Angra to keep an eye open, now I’d extend that advice to the both of them, because Age Of Artemis is taking a stab at a crown it so admiringly respects. This would have been on our list of best albums from 2011 if we hadn’t so shamefully overlooked it, I hope this review makes up for that.
Arno Callens’ Rating: 4.25 out of 5