Band : Andre Matos
Album title : Time To Be Free
Label : Steamhammer
Distributor : SPV/CNR
Release date : 25/02/2008
Release : CD
How much do you really know about former Viper , Angra , Shaman (and Shamaan ) frontman Andre Matos?
Born in September 1971 in São Paulo (Brazil), Andre began his musical eductaion at the age of ten, when he was given a piano by his parents. As a teenager, he would frequently gather with his friends to listen to their favourite music, and before too long they were learning to play the tunes themselves, so Andre joined his first Viper when he was only 13 years old. Because he had the least poor vocals of ’em all, and because he physically resembled Bruce Dickinson (of Iron Maiden ), he took on the task of lead singer, but the piano and keyboards were always his instruments of choice. Viper , who were to record two demos (1985’s The Killera Sword and 1989’s untitled one) and two albums (1987’s Soldiers Of Sunrise & 1989’s Theatre Of Hate , both of which sold fairly well in Europe and Japan) had become somewhat of a phenomenon in the Brazilian Heavy Metal scene, but when his bandmates wanted to focus on a heavier, cruder kind of Metal, Andre left Viper , he himself having become interested in Classical music, and therefore grossly diverging in musical vision from the others.
For a couple of years Andre then went back to school to finish his musical education, specializing in composition and orchestral conducting. Eventually, Angra was formed in 1991, and with their debut album Angels Cry the outfit completely broke through in Europe and Japan. Further albums including Andre would be Holy Land (1996) and Fireworks (1998), both showing a further development from the band’s early Helloween inspired Speed Metal to a unique blend of Heavy Metal with influences of Classical and Brazilian music which would bring the band worldwide praise from fans and media alike! When Iron Maiden was looking for a new frontman to replace Dickinson , Andre came in the Top 3 finalists alongside James Labrie ( Dre am Theater ) and winner Blaze Bayley . In 1998 Andre also started to guest on other artists’ albums ( Tim e Machine ‘s Secret Oceans Part II , Superior ‘s Younique , and Looking-Glass-Self ‘s Equinox ; then, during 2000, on Sagrado ‘s Ao Oeste Do Sol, Oeste De Lua and Rodrigo Alves ‘ Suddenly ) and by 2001 continuous disagreements concerning band management between guitarists Kiko Laureiro & Rafael Bittencourt and the rest of the band prompted Andre to leave the band, taking along with him the rhythm section.
Before recruiting bassist Luis Mariutti ‘s brother Hugo (formerly with Thrash Metal outfit Wardeath . He currently also plays in Henceforth ) on the guitar to form Shaman , Andre undertook a short trip to Europe, during which he participated in the Sascha Paeth project Virgo . Further contributions to other artists’ works that year would include Karma ‘s Into The Eyes album, Henceforth ‘s I.Q.U. , and Avantasia ‘s (The Metal Opera) Parts I & II . He also participated in a German musical/ theater production of William Shakespeare ‘s Hamlet (I’m not sure hów involved he was, though). Upon his return to Brazil, work was started on the first material to be released by Shaman , which released their debut Ritual (the music of which was very much a continuation of Andre ‘s visions with Angra ) during 2002 in no less than 16 countries. The year after they were in the Top 10 of all specialized media, and the track "Fairy Tale" was used in the original soundtrack of a very popular Brazilian TV soap series (audience over 40 million). Another highlight would come with the recordings of their live DVD/ CD Ritualive at a performance, which would not only have several special guests in Helloween , Tobias Sam met , Marcus Viana and Sascha Paeth , but would also break the record attendance in audience. The DVD itself also broke record sale figures! The ensuing world tour would see Shaman performing no less than 200 gigs, during which the band got awards in places all over the globe. Before the release of the 2005 album Reason , the band had to change their name to Shamaan due to legal reasons, but that didn’t hold back the band from touring very successfully throughout Europe, Latin & North Am eric a, and Japan! In between, Andre is known to have contibuted to Avalanch ‘s Los Poetas Han Muerto and Luca Turilli ‘s Prophet Of the Last Eclipse (both in 2002), Dr. Sin ‘s 10 Anos (Ao Vivo) DVD (2003), and the self-titled Aina album (2004).
In October 2006 Andre closed the curtains on Shamaan , and taking along the Mariutti brothers, started to focus on his solo band, which was eventually also to comprise second guitarist Andre Hernandes (a guitarist with whom Andre used to work at the beginning of the ’90s, and currently considered one of the greatest guitarists in Brazil. In fact, he was the first Angra guitarist, but left before the recordings for the first album), drummer Eloy Casagrande (a 17 year-old youth who won first price at the 2005 Modern Drummer Drum Contest in the USA), and keyboardist Fabio Ribeiro (the presence of a keyboardist not meaning that Andre himself does not go and sit behind his beloved piano every once in a while. Fabio was the keyboardist whom accompanied Angra nd Shaman / Shamaan on their live excursions, and he also participated to Shaman ‘s Ritualive DVD/ CD. His side-project Blezqi Zatkas is one of the hot Brazilian bands in the Progressive scene). Meanwhile, Andre has also participated to Rock Opera Tommy (performed with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra And Choir ), playing the lead role…which was his first experience as an actor in an opera. He’s become one of the most lauded singers in the world, people on the Internet consacrating over 5000 webspaces in his honour, and specialized media publications in Brazil have named Andre as the absolute champion in the categories of "Best Singer" and "Best Keyboard Player" in 2006 & 2007. He was over in Germany in early February 2007 to record his participation (to the track "Request" ) to HDK (a side-project from After Forever guitarist/ songwriter Sander Gommans ), somewhat of a change in pace for Andre , as HDK walks in fields of Thrash and Death.
Right before that, recordings (which had partly started in Brazil during November 2006) were finished in Germany. Working together on recordings and production were the famed Roy Z and old friend Sascha Paeth , albeit on different continents. Amazingly, it took Europe quite a while to release the album, because in Brazil it was in the record stores in August 2007, in Japan (on Marquee/ Avalon with "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" as bonus track) in October! The band went over to Japan for a promotional week in November, and was invited to play at the Loud Park Festival events in Tokio and Osaka, thus becoming the first band ever to play the two festivals simultaneously. Days later, several licence deals came through, beginning with Universal Brazil for further distribution of the album in Brazil, followed by a deal for Thailand (joining Japan, Korea and Taiwan in the Far East distribution of the album), and in December Russia followed suit (with a deal including 6 former USSR states). In January Steamhammer/ SPV finally took the deal for Europe. Hot news: Andre has just (15/02) sent out the confirmation for his promotional tour in Europe. Starting off in France on the 25 th (Paris) and 26 th (Clermont-Ferrant & Lion) of February, he’ll first play an acoustic set and then do a signing session. Thens (Greece), Milano (Italy) and Hannover (Germany) follow the days after (for closer details, check out the news section of andrematos.net.
Now, as you can imagine, the album title kinda refers to Andre getting his chance to have full craetive control…but it’s also relevant to the concept of having free time. Regretfully, I’ve found that none of the usual websites carries any of Andre ‘s music at this moment (when I first checked, myspace.com/andrematossolo díd have mp3 files for two tracks off the alum (plus one off Shaman ‘s debut album), but those have since apparently been cancelled. No music on Andre ‘s personal website andrematos.net either, but if you’re somewhat familiar with and liked what the man has done in Shamaan , Shaman , and Angra before, you can pretty much blindly go out to the record store (starting 22/02 in Germany, 25/02 rest of Europe) to buy the album. Just like before, there’s a good blending of Heavy Metal with Classical (both with atmosph eric and orchestral keyboards by Ribeira and wonderful piano play by Andre ) and ethnic elements (shamanic singing in intro of "Reason" , among others).
In fact, once you’ve bought the album and listened to it a couple of times, you’ll find yourself drawn to liking the material on it more and more with each listening session. And in the end you, like me, will categorize Tim e To Be Free into your year-lists as one of the top albums of the year!