Rating – 9/10
Brazilian by Birth Andre Matos is the one time vocalist with both Angra and Shaman and allegedly was in the frame to replace Bruce Dickenson when he left Iron Maiden back in 1993. Now given the fact that I’ve never heard little by either of his former bands and thus can hardly be considered a fan, why am I reviewing this album. Simple, I have a Japanese colleague who is well aware of the fact that I’m a fan of Journey and sent me a copy of the album when it was released in Japan back in September/October 07 when It held the No. 2 chart position for a whole month. The Japanese version contains, as a bonus track, a stunning version of Journey’s Separate Ways delivered in a guitar driven power metal style and a song that has to be heard to be believed.
Now some six months later SPV are releasing the album in Europe, albeit without the Journey cover, so what about the rest of the album then. All I can say is that Time To Be Free takes the listener through an incredible range of emotions. Quiet, soulful sections and technical, soaring rock, it’s a fabulous blend of melodic segments and more “metal moments”. Yes at times Matos follows the power metal rule book – the short instrumental opener, the warp factor ten drumming and layered guitars – but when it’s done with this much style and panache, it is simply brilliant. The production is also pretty much superb courtesy of two the biggest names in the business these days, Roy Z (The man who resurrected both Rob Halford’s and Bruce Dickinson’s solo carriers) and Sascha Paeth, but it’s the material that makes this album stand head and shoulders above it’s competition.
Tracks like the haunting Face The End and the atmospheric A New Moonlight, a song which features Matos excellent keyboard skills, all coupled together with his versatile and excellent voice and a group of musicians who have played with him in either Shaman or Angra come to together to produce an album that blends the best bits of Symphony X, Kamelot and Dream Theater to produce an album that is top notch. Don’t believe me, well if it had been eligible Time To Be Free would have been in my top ten releases of 2007 and is highly likely to feature in the 2008 list unless a raft of superlative releases come along in the next few months. Simply put Time To Be Free is one great album!