By Colonel Angus

Angra first came into my metal world with "Holy Land" but they dropped out pretty quickly also. I was really impressed with that disk but for whatever reason, I just wasn't into other releases by them. Not that they were bad but they just didn't seem to have that "X Factor" that "Holy Land" managed to conjure up. I did take the time to listen to "Fireworks" all the way to "Aurora Consurgens" and each one left me with the feeling that there was basically a half albums worth of good material and the rest was filler. The performances were great but unless you have a good song, it doesn't matter how good the playing is. That being said, I wanted to take a longer listen to "Aqua" not just because I was reviewing it but I wanted to see if I was missing something. Well, at the end of the day and countless listens, I have come to the conclusion that even though there is some filler material, for the most part, "Aqua" is a solid album.

If you are a long time fan, you will be a fan of more of the power metal elements of the record like "Arising Thunder", "Awake From Darkness" and "The Rage of the Waters", but I think that you may disappointed with the rest.  Since "Holy Land" is really the only one that I'm a fan of, I found myself liking the other tracks better. Granted, Angra is a power metal band with progressive tendencies,  but here they have kind of flip-flopped and seem to be more progressive than power metal. Older fans who come to expect something from their favorite band may not appreciate the change. I'm the same way with some of my faves. When Dream Theater first released "Falling Into Infinity", I hated it but after some time, I learned to appreciate the material. First impressions may be negative but giving "Aqua" repeated listens (and keeping an open mind) will definitely start to sway you. There is still some filler material on hand like "Lease On Life" but overall there is plenty to keep a prog metal fan happy. "Weakness of a Man" and "Hollow" didn't grab me at first but now I hold these tracks as some of the best moments on the album.

I could never fault Angra from a musical standpoint. Whether the material was up to snuff or not, the individual performances were always top notch. Edu Falaschi has a great set of pipes and his vocals fit the music perfectly (although I did sense a bit of straining on a couple of tunes). Kiko Loureiro is one of the most under-rated players out there but don't take my word for it, grab a listen to his solo album "No Gravity". Here, Loueiro and Rafael Bittencourt riff and solo with the best of them. Even on mellower tunes like "Monster In Her Eyes", the soloing shines through. Felipe Andreoli and returning drummer Richardo Confessori are a tight rhythm section and no matter what twists and turns the music takes, they manage to stay tight while adding a great groove to the tracks.

SPV has had some difficulties and it is a shame because they had/have a solid roster. I may not be a fan of everything but they always put out quality material. Even thought I have not really been an Angra fan since "Holy Land" , "Aqua" has made some steps to correcting that. If you don't know much about this band, I would still recommend starting where I did, with "Holy Land", but long time fans should not dismiss this record. It may take more than one spin (it did for me), but in the end, you may find a few gems in "Aqua".