The success of each camp following the break-up can be attributed to certain differences. For Shaman, the decision to regroup around guitarist Hugo Mariutti was key in establishing a separate musical identity from Angra. The difference can be heard almost immediately from the first notes of Shaman’s "Here I Am" from their debut, "Ritual". Mariutti offers a style and approach that is closer to Zakk Wylde and Jon Schaffer while the guitar duo of Loureiro and Bittencourt may best be described as John Petrucci meets Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. As a fan of Angra and as someone who respects the Angra legacy, it would be sacrilegious to imply that Loureiro and Bittencourt replaced Matos, Mariutti, and Confessori. They are musicians who cannot be "replaced". Rather than seek "replacements", Loureiro and Bittencourt reformed around musicians who stand out on their own musical merits. In this light, Edu Falaschi, Felipe Andreoli, and Aquiles Priester are "additions" to Angra. The musical chemistry under the new lineup is also a much better fit given the progressive direction the band has taken since "Fireworks".
While Angra is working on their follow-up to their 2006 album, Aurora Consurgens, the history of Shaman has taken a surprising twist. In October ’06, Shaman announced they were disbanding. Soon afterwards, frontman Andre Matos announced he would be recording his first solo album. What came as a surprise, however, is that Ricardo Confessori decided to keep the Shaman name and reform under a new lineup. The results of each venture have proved to be successful. The new Shaman featuring Thiago Bianchi on vocals, Fernando Quesada on bass, and Leo Mancini on guitars has put out a new album entitled "Immortal" which is much heavier and progressive than Shaman’s previous efforts. Mancini’s guitars are fast and furious while the voice of Thiago Bianchi soars. "One Life" and "In the Dark" feature some of the best vocal performances I have ever heard within the rock/metal genre. One could argue that with the departure of Matos and the Mariutti brothers that it is not the "real" Shaman, but as Confessori’s former Angra bandmates, Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt have proven, it is possible to be as good if not better under a completely different lineup.
After twenty years in the music industry as frontman for Brazilian metal heavyweights Viper, Angra, and Shaman, Matos’ trajectory towards solo stardom now seems inevitable. He is not only a brilliant frontman and vocalist, but a gifted composer and writer as well. While Matos’ solo effort is under his name, it is still very much a group effort. Just as he did in Shaman, Matos wrote all the lyrics to the songs. This time, however, he shares writing credits with a more varied host of collaborators including Pit Pasarell of Viper, guitarist Alberto Rionda from Spanish metal band, Avalanch, keyboardist Fabio Ribeiro, guitarist Andre Hernandes, the Mariutti brothers, and Roy Z. Matos’ new lineup closely resembles the original Shaman with the Mariutti brothers, Hugo and Luis, on guitar and bass, respectively, and Fabio Ribeiro on keyboards. The biggest difference from Shaman is the addition of Andre "Zaza" Hernandes on guitars. Matos’ collaboration with Hernandes goes all the way back to the beginning of Angra. Hernandes was the guitarist in Angra before Kiko Loureiro and helped compose parts to songs such as "Carry On" and "Time" from Angels Cry. The addition of Hernandes also brings back the energy and dymanic of having two guitar players in a band. The chemistry between Mariutti and Hernandes often recalls classic era Angra (1991-2000). The drumwork is impressive as well. Rafael Rosa’s style often reminds me of Neil Peart, but under a metal context. It’s varied and dynamic, but always within the song. Overall, "Time To Be Free" builds upon the strengths of Andre Matos’ previous efforts, Angra’s "Holy Land" and Shaman’s "Ritual." The album’s greatest strength is that it never falls under the trappings of a true solo project which can tip the balance in favor of one person’s voice at the expense of others. The entire band shines, not just Andre Matos, and that allows the music to shine. The result is not just one of the best metal albums of the year, but one of Andre Matos’ best offerings to date.
Angra – Holy Land (1996)
Angra – Temple of Shadows (2004)
Shaman – Ritual (2002)
Shaman – RituaLive (2003) DVD
Shaman – Immortal (2007)
Andre Matos – Time To Be Free (2007)