The Brazilian Metal Scene: From Angra to Andre Matos

Posted by Jerred Mathews at 12/3/2007 4:12 PM and is filed under ARTICLES
There is a certain phenomenon that happens every time a Brazilian metal band breaks up.  The remaining members keep the band name and reform around a group of musicians who unexpectedly elevate the band’s previous legacy.  In 2001, Angra guitarists, Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt did the unthinkable.  Following the departure of singer Andre Matos, bassist Luis Mariutti, and drummer Ricardo Confessori, Angra continued with a new lineup featuring Edu Falaschi on vocals, Felipe Andreoli on bass, and Aquiles Priester on drums.  Matos, Mariutti, and Confessori, meanwhile, formed a new band, Shaman, with Luis Mariutti’s younger brother, Hugo, on guitars.  With the break-up of the classic Angra lineup, the biggest question was whether the two camps would be able to work independently from each other, yet still make music on par with Angra’s best work?  If there is one lesson of rock history, it’s that band break-ups usually do not work out.  In the instance of Angra, however, the break-up proved to be a blessing in disguise.  Both camps reformed with a new energy and purpose, producing albums which easily surpassed the classic Angra lineup’s last offering together, "Fireworks".  The challenges created by the break-up also played a key role in the new music direction taken by each camp.   Shaman’s debut, "Ritual" is a natural progression from Angra’s 1996 album "Holy Land".  The music is unmistakably influenced by frontman, Andre Matos’ love of Brazilian and classical music.  Angra’s "Rebirth", on the other hand, retains the classical influences of classic Angra, but downplays the Brazilian influences.  The Brazilian influences are there, but are less prevalent.  In this way, "Rebirth" is closer to Angra’s "Fireworks".  "Rebirth", in fact, is not that drastic of a departure from "Fireworks" which shows a more progressive side of Angra.  Stylistically, "Metal Icarus", "Mystery Machine" and "Speed" would fit well on the "Rebirth" album. 

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.
Essential Listening:

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)


About Janus

Janus Aureus is my recently-inaugurated personal blog (written in portuguese, but with some texts in english as well). Fiore Rouge is my old (but still very active - in fact, more than Janus :P) blog (I started it back in 2005). Mentalize is a fan-made website (since 2005). if you wish to contact me for any reason, visit my blog and leave a comment OR see email above (top left) - no, my name's not Andre - actually, I'm not even a guy! LOL Long story... O Janus Aureus é meu blog pessoal - escrito em português - ainda sem muito conteúdo, pois foi começado no final de dezembro de 2011. Já o Mentalize foi aberto em 2005 e está escrito em várias línguas *rs* Privilegio o uso do inglês ali porque o pessoal estrangeiro não tem muitas informações sobre o AM. Quem quiser entrar em contato comigo por qualquer motivo, deixe um comentário nos meus blogs ou use o email que está aí em cima à esquerda (e não, eu não sou o Andre - aliás, sou mulher!).

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