Ankhalimah – I
Ankhalimah – I (2013)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
It can be hard to find original-sounding power metal within the Brazilian scene, as so many artists from that country are so steeped in the influences of both Angra and various European counterparts, but occasionally a group comes along that surprises us. These exceptions include, but are not limited to, Tierramystica, Caravellus, and now perhaps Porto Alegre’s Ankhalimah.
On the surface, all of the familiar elements are present: the gale of double bass and fast power-picking, as well as orchestral hits and choirs, creating a thick textural curtain of sound that threatens to disguise some of the band’s more subtle touches. It is among these less obvious musical elements that Ankhalimah discards its familiar attire and assumes the face of an eager and somewhat experimental young band looking to make its mark on the scene. These include the general lack of pronounced dual guitar, absence of most any kind of neoclassical homages, and general tendency to sound not at all like Angra, but one of the easiest to pick out is singer Guilherme Klausner . This man’s baritone reminds me very distinctly of Heroik’s Jordan Delage when he’s singing cleanly, and somewhat of Dark At Dawn’s Thorsten Kohlrausch when he’s roaring. This huskier and rather distinct tone is definitely a deviation from the norm, and his mellower vocals in particular are a refreshing change. Guilherme’s singing is supplemented by a few instances of harsh vocals throughout the album.
The only place I take exception to his voice is during “Edge Of Madness”. It’s not a bad song, but because of Klausner’s Brazilian accent, I will always sing “LOVE IS THE RAISIN!” (which, I’m pretty sure, is not how the song goes) when I think of this band. I feel that the album slacks off on creativity during this track as well, except for the very good solo section, and doesn’t properly get back on its feet again until “Prison Of Vices”. Why anyone would place three pretty laid back songs smack the middle of a metal album is a bit beyond me, but “Prison Of Vices” is a definite revival, and a bit more straightforward power metal than a couple of the more bombastic earlier cuts.
I’s biggest problem is consistency, therefore. I dig the first few songs well enough, but the interest just falls out of the middle of the album. Even “Vampire”, which is a decent song, suffers from 40-50 seconds of very bland introduction. Ankhalimah gets cracking for 3-4 very good songs (including the heretofore unmentioned, almost nine minute closer “Valentine”), but there’s wasted space and unrealized potential lurking in every nook and cranny. The fact that the band’s most interesting features are not very obvious or entirely reigned-in make repeated listening a necessity. Actually, I think this is one of the least accessible non-progressive power metal releases on the year (that doesn’t also suck).
I’d recommend Ankhalimah to those who are searching for good, lower register singing in their power metal, those who want to hear something new out of Brazil, or those who care to hear a modern and less tired brand of bombast mixed in with their power metal. I don’t think Ankhalimah has its formula nailed down just yet, but I give it good odds at better realizing things next time around.
3.0 // 5