Angra – Fireworks
Fireworks is the third full-length effort from Angra, and their last with original frontman Andre Matos. Stylistically, it is also a bit different, tending to walk on the progressive side of the line, placing power metal a close second save for a few notable songs. Oddly, Fireworks is not the explosive, bombastic album that you might expect it to be. Instead, it’s a colorful blend of instrumentation and tempos that shows off the band’s ability to stray from their established norms. In this way, I almost consider it the spiritual predecessor to the band’s 2010 release Aqua.
Fireworks is full of Angra’s little “progisms” that are the band’s subtle signature. Signed instrumentally by Loureiro and Bittencourt, brief guitar tangents punctuate the gradual, unhurried flow of the album, but do not interrupt it. While in comparison to most other Angra albums, Fireworks is generally less confined in the guitar department, and pure technical prowess is set on the back burner, the duo lend their skills instead to sheer atmosphere. Instead of a constant barrage, the guitar assaults are quick concise bursts. This isn’t a strict rule however, as they get bored a few songs in and break into “Metal Icarus”, a comparative shredfest that breaks up the slow paced ramble for a few minutes.
If I say that Fireworks is the least “power metal” of all Angra’s albums, it is also probably the least melodic, at least in the sense of grand choruses and powerful singing. It is no secret that I prefer Edu Falaschi considerably to Andre Matos, and with the vocals in the forefront of this album and the lack of particularly striking choruses, Matos’s slurred sighing tends to get on my nerves and knock my enjoyment down a few notches. Cruel as it may be to say, I believe his replacement may have been the kindest thing that ever happened for this band.
A few songs deserve special mention here. “Wings Of Reality” is the token speedy Angra opener, and a good song, though a bit weak by the band’s previous standards. I find “Lisbon” to be a great slower effort, featuring something of a unique sound on this album, which otherwise evidences little of the band’s signature Brazilian flavor. The title track features a lackadaisical introduction which gives way to an adventurous chorus and a questing bridge section which break up the relatively uninteresting verses. With a sharp, attention-grabbing introduction, “Extreme Dream” at first looks to be a smoker before settling back into a relatively droll chorus. Despite this, it does boast some excellent guitar work. “Speed” bears its name well, and is indeed a portent of things to come, but like much of the rest of the material here, it’s not quite what we know the band is capable of.
Fireworks is the Angra album that’s hardest to jump up and down about because of its inconsistencies, but it still remains a high-quality work that is indispensable for fans of the band. Standing against the group’s other material, it is underwhelming due to its different level of melodicism. In this end, this is an explorative work for a group that pointedly changed directions a few short years later. Interesting and worthwhile, but not essential.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5