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2 stars An album for those who are into DREAM THEATER or heavy metal prog style. Really, this album is more heavy than prog, but has its good moments. "Carolina IV" is the best piece. There are some ethnic additions, some classical music touches and players are cohesive... Do you think it isn't enough to consider progressive an album? Maybe, but this is a "love it or hate it" style.

Report this review (#9708)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2003 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
5 stars The very first time I've listened "Holy Land" I felt a bit confused. It was softer than their debut, there were many slow songs and ballads. After being left in the shelf for a long time and after listening to it more carefully I realized how magnificent this album is. It is the same Angra who brought us "Angels Cry", still power metal, still the classical arrangements, but with a more mature sound. With "Holy Land", Angra tries to make a tribute to their homeland. This could be a concept album, but don’t get upset about it, I know, concept albums seem to be the same in power metal, but this is no about the traditional knights and maidens story… have you ever listened to a concept album about sailors and explorers? Maybe there isn’t a solid tale throughout the album, but you can see the same line followed in the lyrics. And to introduce the listeners to the core of the songs and the album, Angra has explored new terrains by mixing metal with some Latin rhythms and instruments in a way that can be slightly noticed. I guess this is the strongest point in Holy Land, making it a special album in the catalogue of every metal fan.

Each song in Holy Land is different and has its moments. On the vocal side, Matos makes a greater job than in Angles Cry, while his compositions are one of the best. The guitars don’t sound like Carry On or Evil Warning, they are more rhythm-oriented, there are less melodic riffs but Kiko and Rafael have worked too hard on the solos, breaking in different forms and in the perfect moment of each song. One of the best solos of the album is the one on "Z.I.T.O.", although this and "Nothing to Say" are the only songs that follow the musical line of the past album. A special tune is "Holy Land", slow song with a main piano melody so catchy and memorable. "Make Believe" is one of the ballads of the albums, but I would say that is more a classic rock ballad than a metal ballad, so it gives another taste to the album, closing with a powerful solo I like a lot. And I must mention the “epic” song of this album: "Carolina IV", with an intro full of Latin percussions and with some kind of variations all over the song, including Latin sounds, metal lines and classical interludes. This is one of the progressive songs and you must pay attention on the bass on this one.

It’s difficult to catalogue metal bands actually, and with Holy Land, Angra is one of those bands awaiting for that “style-label” because they have created their own style that at best can be described as symphonic power/prog metal with latin influences. For prog people Holy Land can be perfect for listening to Angra for the first time, but I’d prefer listening to Angels Cry first, so you can appreciate the evolution of these guys and know why they are one of the most important metal bands on these days. Holy Land is possibly their best, while most influential and complete sounding album in their catalogue.

album rating: 9.5/10 points = 94 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Report this review (#9713)
Posted Wednesday, December 24, 2003 | Review Permalink
5 stars After "Angels Cry" I was ready to get disappointed by Angra's next album...well, when "Holy Land" was released I couldn't have been more astonished!! It's hard to make up one's mind to know which of them is better...

Angels Cry's style is more heavy-metal oriented, whereas Holy Land adds brazilian elements to it (there's even an excerpt of an Hermeto Paschoal song in one of the tracks!) and makes use of more complex musical structures. Which of course is no guarantee that people will like it, for it may sound too weird for those who aren't used to this...but then again, it might also sound as something extremely creative and beautiful. The highlight is definitely the song Carolina IV, a 10-minute epic that mixes heavy metal, typical brazilian percussion and classical music, with perfect transitions and harmony between those radically different styles. A must, in my opinion...

Report this review (#9709)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The most fine and well finished album of thic fantastic group. Songs are really beautiful, Kiko loreiro and raphael bittencourt more efficient than ever on the guitares, and André's voice fit perfectly with the lyrism of the album.
Report this review (#9716)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars WARNING-ACHTUNG-WARNING: You will not be getting an objective review :WARNING- ACHTUNG-WARNING!!! This is one of my top 10 "desert island" albums. It is perfect in every way. There is nothing I would change.

I was introduced to this one (along with Symphony X's Damnation Game and Superior's Behind) by an ytsejam contact, my Scandinavian friend Mape Olila (Mape, if you happen to read this, thank you!) back in '96. It was an incredible time for finding new music for me. I had been into the original prog metal trio (QR, FW, DT) for years but had not found anything quite as good. Then along came Angra. I have listened to perhaps thousands of CDs by hundreds of bands since, and only Pain of Salvation have found their way into my own personal prog metal hall of fame.

What we have here in this CD is part speed metal, part symphony, and part Carnivale. After the orchestral opening, "The Crossing", comes one of the best opening songs I can remember, "Nothing to Say". The symphonic elements layered into the opening crunching guitar riff give me goosebumps every time. "Silence and Distance" starts and ends with piano balladeering with a great odd-time sig guitar riff in-between. "Carolina IV" is an all- time classic, as is the title track. "The Shaman" is about ancient indian burial rites ("warm up the soul while the body's freezing"). "Make Believe" is probably the least prog metal, most poppy, song on the album, but it is still one of my favorites. It's a beautiful melody, flawlessly performed with perfect orchestral accents throughout, and Andre Matos hits one of the highest notes ever recorded near the end. "Z.I.T.O" (I have no idea what it stands for) rocks, "Deep Blue" takes it down a notch, and "Lullaby for Lucifer" ends the CD on a peaceful note, giving you a chance to breathe after what was just an incredible ride.

This is Angra's best work by far. The preceding album wasn't bad, the subsequent album was decent, and the albums since the departure of Matos and the rhythm section just don't hold a candle. I am certain that 50 years from now I will still be listening to this album.

To those who say this isn't prog, then we simply have different definitions of what prog is. That in itself is a defining aspect of prog music; that it is hard to define. You can call it whatever you want. I'll call it one of the best ever.

Report this review (#9717)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is prog metal at its best! The music has beautiful melodies and original touches of Brazilian ethnic and symphonic music with colorful instrumentation and percussion. I think it's creative and complex enough to be called progressive. The singer is singing very high but his voice fits the music quite well. The most progressive song is the epic Carolina IV. I don't listen to heavy music very often but Holy Land is a perfect album and will remain one of my favourites!
Report this review (#9718)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is their most adventurous album so far. It still features their power-metal influences but also a strong traditional brazilian flavour besides a more symphonic sound. There is almost no weak moment on this record, there are many highlights, specially the epic 'Carolina IV' which definitely is their most progressive track to date and equals the finest work from Dream Theater or Fates Warning. This record is without doubt Angra's finest hour.
Report this review (#9719)
Posted Friday, December 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I knew this band very late after they produced many albums. To be precise, I only knew them when they released "Rebirth" album. At the same time I heard another band SHAMAN that was formed by Angra's previous lead singer Andre Matos. I loved those two albums. I did not really explore much about this band until I got their live video "Rebirth Tour" and also latest album "Temple of Shadows" - an excellent album. I was then in an intense correspondence with my prog mate, Marc, from the US. I was kind like reminded by him through his email saying that "Holy Land" is one of his favorite album (top 10?). I was surprised with this fact as I knew that Marc is about at the same age with me and my perception about Angra was that its music would favor younger generation only. At least, I knew this band from my metal mates down here in my country. They are much younger than me.

Phew .finally, with extended hands from my friend down here, David the metal man who proudly watched NAPALM DEATH live in Jakarta this weekend, I got this album on loan basis from him last week. And, I don't want to miss this opportunity to finally enjoy track by track offered by this band. My first reaction at first spin? It blew me away man ..!! Well, at least the powerful vocal quality of Andre Matos and speedy and skillful guitar play by Kiko have made me amazed with this album. Also, this one offers many styles and relatively complex structure with great orchestrations while maintaining their roots in power metal vein. I think, this album deserves detail review. [Am sure you don't have time to read this long review, better you skip it and GET THE CD! Highly Recommended!]

The album opens with bird sounds, heavy rains with some chanting in Crossing (1:55) that sets the pace of the album wonderfully. Heavy guitar riffs, bass lines and drumming suddenly enters the music that remarks the start of Nothing To Say (6:20). Nice orchestrations give more texture to the music just before the vocal line enters the music. It's clear now, how powerful Andre Matos' voice. He brings the music in power metal vein with catchy melodies, excellent riffs and frequent tempo changes. Guitar solos are stunning - especially when they are combined with great orchestration. I love the ending part where all instruments play together with orchestration at the back with fast tempo rhythm section. It's an excellent track! [**** ½ ].

Silence and Distance (5:34) opens with voice line accompanied with piano sounds in mellow style. Light orchestra fills in the music at the back to enrich the music. Drums and guitars enter the music with bass lines and brass section that bring the vocal into higher register notes in medium tempo style. In some segments, there are great combination of piano, music riffs and orchestra. Right after first guitar solo, the music enters into a nice harmony produced by orchestra and brass section in power metal style. The music ends with vocal and piano work with the same style as opening part. [****]

Carolina IV (10:33) starts with a sort of latin music dominated by percussion and vocals. It reminds me to "The Acid Rain" of Rebirth album. Well, I think the latter was heavily influenced by this track as this one was released earlier. The music turns into different style with increasing vocal and continuous music in medium tempo. It then returns back to opening music style. At approx min [2:40] the music turns differently, moves into speed metal music with very fast tempo and high register notes in vocal line. The orchestra plays important role to accentuate the song. This song offers various styles and forms with frequent tempo changes. It qualifies being a truly prog tune if we look at these dimensions. I have to admit that at first I got trouble in digesting the music of this tune. [**** ½ ].

Holy Land (6:26) starts uniquely with funny vocal line and piano work augmented with percussion. The music then flows in medium tempo style with increasing vocal and accentuated with woodwind-like sound. Piano still maintains its happy mood play followed with great orchestra. Melody-wise this song is a bit awkward at first listen but it would grow firmly after couple of spins more. The ending part with oboe-like sound and happy mood music rhythm section is really good. [****].

The Shaman (5:23). Has this track inspired the formation of Andre Matos' band in the future to come? I really don't know. What I know for sure, this track starts WONDERFULLY with a great orchestration followed with high register notes vocals laid on top of musical riffs. Orchestration helps accentuate the music textures of this song. Brass section is used and mixed thinly at the back during some transition pieces. In the middle of the track there is an interlude in quieter passage with excellent percussion and some dialogue in non English language. It's a great interlude, I would say! Especially when guitar solo is performed with orchestration at the back. [**** ½ ].

Make Believe (5:51) opens with marching drum sounds combined with piano. The vocal enters in slow tempo style while drums and piano maintain its style. The music turns louder as commanded by the vocal that moves into higher register notes, augmented with orchestra. It returns back to original tempo but using drums as beat keeper. The music flows nicely with vocal line and orchestration (nice one!). [****]

Z.I.T.O (6:09) is a power metal music - fast tempo and very technical - with great orchestra and excellent vocals. It has great interlude part with an exploration of piano work, orchestration followed with stunning guitar solo. This track amazes me with its hard driving rhythm section and speedy guitar solo, altogether performed in excellent harmony. [**** ½ ]

The next tracks are slow tempo tracks. Deep Blue (5:47) kicks off with ambient organ sound thinly mixed, featuring great voice in mellow style, high register notes. Very nice track with catchy melody. [****]. Lullaby For Lucifer starts with beach soundscape followed with nice acoustic guitar fills that feature pure and transparent vice of Andre Matos. Really good melody. [**** ½].


Having gone through track-by-track review, I finally understand why many friends of mine praise this album highly. My overall rating is 4.5 out of 5 stars that potentially would grow into five stars rating in the future. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!!!

Progressively yours,


Report this review (#9721)
Posted Sunday, April 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now we are talking about prog!!! I reffer to my previous review on Angra's debut album "Angel's Cry" which I considered it more a piece of power metal than prog metal. The presence of other instruments than guitars, bass and drums gave a new atmosphere to the album which becomes coloured by brazilian regional rhythms. There's a lot more keyboard work (sorry, I can't distinghish a piano of an organ or a mellotron) :D The sequence "Crossing-Nothing To Say" is my favourite. I kinda worship "Carolina IV" for being such a creative piece: brazilian traditional music transmuted in metal... and the cute part "I've been such a fool..." :D "Z.I.T.O." is in "Angel's Cry" style and still is better than any song of that album in my opinion. "Deep Blue" has a hipnotizing organ and "Lullaby for Lucifer" is at least touching...
Report this review (#41352)
Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best from Angra, and a msterpiece of prog music. Great arangements, full of good pieces,well played. Get this one you will not be diseppointed. My fav Angra album without any doubt. 5 stars for sure, among the albums that needs more attention from prog devotee.
Report this review (#70548)
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nicely surprised by Angra's debut album, 1994's "Angels Cry", no one was yet prepared for what was to come with this follow-up release. Originating from Sao Paulo, Brazil the Heavy/Power Metal band that plays a savvy blend of classic Metal and progressive folk elements really set the bar very high with 1996's "Holy Land".

The term "songwriting" takes all his meaning with "Holy Land". It's still regarded as their best release, alternating killing heavy tracks and beautiful ballads. Some of their best songs ever are there: 'Nothing To Say' is a powerful hit, 'Carolina IV' is an epic journey, 'Z.I.T.O.' is their fastest composition, packed with solos and not to be forgotten the beautiful ballad 'Deep Blue'. And what about 'Make Believe' [still one of my favorite songs after so many years...]? Some releases of "Holy Land" even include the bonus track 'Queen Of The Night', another kicking ass song, which by the way, is also released on their following album "Freedom Call".

Following the saying to not change a working team, Angra recorded in Germany once again with the same team, leaded by famous producer Sascha Paeth under supervision from their label Limb Music Productions. They gave the artwork job to the same talented designer and as a result, the album has a gorgeous look. One major difference from their debut album is that their drummer, Ricardo Confessori, is actually performing the drums this time and the difference is noticeable, giving a softer feel to the drumming, which allows Andre Matos' voice to shine even more than it would have with a hard-pounding drum sound. Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt are sharing the guitar work with such talent that it's criminal, their solos are unbelievable. Luis Maruitti is getting the job done with a terrific feel on the bass and the five of them together really transcend their music.

Almost 10 years after its release date, "Holy Land" still sounds to me like one of the best albums around, either it easily passed the test of time or I'm getting old. In the end, "Holy Land" is an indispensable album for all Power Metal fans and should appeal to anybody with tastes that go beyond your average people's music.

Report this review (#75005)
Posted Saturday, April 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars In Holy Land, Angra revealed to the world what they were really made of. This is a masterpiece of Neo-Classical Progressive Power/Heavy Metal. The album is a Epic about Brazilian History and culture with visible touches of its folk music. The tracks "Nothing to Say", "Carolina IV", "Holy Land" and " The Shaman" shows it very clearly with brazilian typical instruments, beats and rhythm. André Matos shows a very trained and tuned voice which gives a majestic touch to the music. The track "Make Belive" , which is a beautiful power ballad, together with "Carolina IV" , an epic of 10 minutes, are the highlights of the work. For those who don't think Angra's really progressive, this will surely change you mind and for those who alredy appreciate the work of this excellent band this is essential to your collection.


Report this review (#89379)
Posted Sunday, September 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This really is a classy act, even down to the album's packaging (which is somewhere between Kansas' Point of Know Return and David Arkenstone's trilogy of Guardian disks. (Yes, Arkenstone is a "new age" artist, but I'm talkin' packaging). The sleeve/cover is a fold out map...old world 2d atlas, actually... on one side and lyrics and info on the other. Neat, compact, but difficult to slide in and out of the jewel case.

My feeling is this - take a dash of Kansas, a dash of Iron Maiden, a dash (or two) of Dream Theater, a dash of IQ, a dash of a symphony and a little South American flavor, mix, and you get Angra (that last bit not surprising given their Brazilian roots).

Holy Land is a concept album, rich with imagery and feeling. And very textured - to me, this is where the Kansas comparison is. I can recall listening to PoKR and hearing new details each time. This is that rich. i would recomend this cd to any prog fan.

Report this review (#98981)
Posted Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Since my purchase of "Holy Land" and "Angel's cry" came as a double disc edition I will post the same review on both albums.

After reading some positive reviews on ANGRA I decided to order "Angel's Cry", "Holy Land" and "Temple Of Shadows" all at once. Even after listening to those albums multiple times I still don't like them. I think this is just plane metal, but if they would be Metallica I could still like it. This is just one of those prog-metal bands with abundance of metal and a huge lack of prog, like there is some other band I don't really "get" called Dream Theatre. I like prog because of it's complex textures. First I thought that prog and metal could not be combined, but bands like GREEN CARNATION, PAIN OF SALVATION, OPETH and RIVERSIDE have proven me differently. If you want to listen to some good Brazilian prog music go buy a CD from AETHER, INDEX, SOLIS, or TARKUS, but avoid ANGRA. Sorry guys!

Maybe I will still post a review on "Temple Of Shadows" later on, but don't expect it to be "magical"...

Report this review (#103811)
Posted Wednesday, December 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Even from the start, this album caughts your attention. What you have here isnot another piece of Power Metal. What makes special this album is tha arrangements from Brazil and Latinamerica, very well done and from european classic music. There is no doubt that Angra members have great skills, and also, they combine in a very attractive way the both culture sounds, to give emphasis to their story. Carolina IV is mabe the best track of the record, since the beggining, with that latin percussions to th eending, a great track If you haven's listened yet Angra, this album is a great way to start
Report this review (#163279)
Posted Wednesday, March 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I wish this was a little darker and didn't have those ballad sections. I don't know if you call this a concept album, but it's all about the land of Brasil. In fact when you open up the thick liner notes the whole one side is a map of the world with "Holy Land" written right where Brasil is. The band really offers up some good variety with classical(orchestration), Brasilian(ethnic), and Power-Metal passages being the most dominant of the styles. The vocalist is exceptional and there are two lead guitarists as well.

"Crossing" opens with the birds singing, that are replaced by a choir, that are then replaced by a thunder storm with pouring rain that sounds awesome ! "Nothing To Say" opens with heavy bass and drums as synths join in. A guitar solo then vocals all before a minute. A thundering soundscape. A blistering guitar solo after 3 1/2 minutes followed by some orchestration. "Silence And Distance" opens with piano and ballad-like vocals. It does kick into gear 1 1/2 minutes in. Ripping guitar 3 minutes in. Another thunderous rhythm section follows typical of power-metal. It ends like it began. "Caroilna IV" is hard not to like with the catchy latin beats. It changes 1 1/2 minutes in but get used to it because this one is all over the place. Aggressive and more uptempo before 3 minutes. Piano and violin after 4 1/2 minutes as it changes again. Orchestration and heavy drums are next. Full speed ahead Power-Metal 6 1/2 minutes in before we're back to the Brasilian groove from earlier.

"Holy Land" opens with percussion as piano takes over then flute as other instruments come in. Vocals a minute in followed by a fuller sound as the tempo continues to shift. Cool song. "The Shaman" has lots of power in it and even spoken words by the Shaman 3 minutes in. "Make Believe" has possibly the best passage on the album for me when the singer screams the lyrics 4 1/2 minutes in followed by some screaming guitar. Nice. "Z.I.T.O." is an uptempo track with another thunderous rhythm section. "Deep Blue" opens with organ then slowly sung vocals join in. It picks up as violin and piano come in. Deep vocals before 4 minutes then female vocals follow. Some great guitar before 5 minutes. Love the way it ends. "Lullaby For Lucifer" opens with the sounds of seagulls and waves. Nice. Acoustic guitar and reserved vocals the rest of the way.

This is one of those albums where it really boils down to your taste. I can understand the 3 star ratings as well as the 5 star ratings. For me this is closer to 3.5 stars even though it's so well done.

Report this review (#172290)
Posted Monday, May 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Holy Land is Angra's best album with André Matos, but it is not as good as it should be

In Holy Land , Angra partially drops the melodic metal they presented us in their debut entitled Angel's Cry and strives for a complexer sound, a complexer music and they, also, partially achieve it. Merging classical music influences (mostly baroque, which fit the album thematics and concept very well) with brazilian folk music, specially afro-brazilian, indian and caboclo tunes, and Angra's characteristic melodic metal, the band deliver us a much more intricate and better worked album than before.

The instrumental part is very decent and, unlike Angel's Cry, it goes beyond the usual metal instrumentation of guitars - bass - drums - piano / keyboard, mainly because of the folk influences. The guitars follow the basic dual-guitar script: as one guitar does the rhythmic work the other does the soloist work. The bass lines are far from complexity, but they fit very well in the music, supporting the band very well. The drums also do a very good job, but the constant double bass drum in some songs can sometimes be a bit boring and uninspiring. Though The André Matos vocals are good, his pronunciation is far from good, being very hard to understand what he is singing at sometimes, but at least he sings very well and with emotion.

The folk influences can be felt through most of the album in the rhythm, as the rhythm of most of the album tries to emulate brazilian folk tunes listed before. However, that influence can be specially felt in the middle of the album in the songs Carolina IV, Holy Land, The Shaman and Z.I.T.O.

The album concept of the album, put very simply, is about the discovery of Brazil by the europeans and the discovery of its many beauties and diversity.

There are also some cracks through the album, maybe caused by bad recording / mixing / mastering.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Very good album overall. Good instrumental music and good vocals and have an OK concept. I think 4 stars is a good grade for it.

Report this review (#185167)
Posted Thursday, October 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Two bands converted me to Prog rock: Dream Theater and Angra. This particular album was an important step into symphonic power metal, as I called them during those days. Now I know Prog Metal was all about. And in the highest level.

Be warned, this is NOT prog metal "ala" Dream Theater. Nothing more different. This is ethnic folk Brazilian rhythms and thematic with orchestral ensemble, classical piano and power metal tendencies. If you can imagine what is the result of all that fusion, and in the right amount of each, the mix is perfect and this is without a doubt a Masterpiece.

Half of the material is oriented into Heavy Metal routes. Songs like Nothing to Say, Shaman, Z.I.T.O. and The Queen of the Night (a bonus track in some editions) have double drum driven, sharing in between orchestra sections and twin guitars unisons and soloing with high pitching vocals, not too polished as in later works but great for the fresh vibe of the album.

The other half o the material is quite melodic and mellow at best. Silence and Distance is a piano ballad song with a heavy driven orchestral ensemble break in the middle. Holy Land is one of those perfect songs that have the best of all worlds. Moody Brazilian rhythms, wonderful piano based and melodic vocals that leads to a rock ballad ending worth the listen of every single person. Don't see how anyone would overlook so great song. In the other hand, Lullaby to Lucifer (what a silly name really) is an acoustic guitar ballad with noises of the shoreline. Very mellow song.

But, the real masterpiece in this great album is the epic Carolina IV. It has the best balance between the ethnic rhythms, heavy power metal riffs and symphonic phrases. The song has a great interlude with a lot of changes going on, and all flows nice and easy and you will feel lifted by the wonderful songwriting skills of this brazilian boys. The song worth the listen for you.

Let's not pass the chance to experience the great music this band has to offer. If you have overlooked this band before just because is Prog Metal, go back a little and give them a listen. This is really what music is all about: sense and soul. 5 stars. This is how I feel this album after all this years. With all the discovering of new bands and sub-genres, it remains as one of my favorites albums of all time.

Report this review (#270451)
Posted Monday, March 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Another album from the vaults of my youth. I first heard of Angra by reading a local rock magazine and since we Scandinavians are completely in love with Power Metal, a passion we share with Germany even though U.S. has started to catch on in the recent years, our local media is always on the lookout for any new foreign talent. Haling from Brazil, Angra was described as another unpolished diamond of our time that was predicted to soon outmatch the mighty Sepultura in popularity. Even though I rarely take this type of praise literally I still decided to give Angra a go and since Holy Land was their widely available breakthrough release it became the obvious choice for my introduction to the band.

Just like any other well respected Power Metal album Holy Land begins with an intro track which in this case might not have been all that noteworthy but what followed definitely tingled my teen Metal mind. Nothing To Say delivered great Power Metal material with a few Progressive Metal moments that mainly came from the innovative guitar work, plus there's a nice Judas Priest vibe to the composition that was bound to make me happy. After an obligatory ballad track came the album's longest and, according to the general opinion, most progressive piece of music called Carolina IV. I'm really on a fence about this track's prog tendencies, to me it sounds more like a long Power Metal track with a few neo-classical moments in the middle section followed by a Power Metal outro. Not really the great classic that many make it out to be but it definitely has a strong chorus and some nice instrumental moments.

My favorite moments comes right towards the middle of the album with the first sounds of the title track that features groovy Brazilian rhythms and a much more personal performance from the André Matos on vocals. It would have been nice to see more of this material throughout the album but unfortunately the second half of the release continues the trend that was set during the first half with a dramatic composition (The Shaman), ballad with orchestral arrangement (Make Believe) and more orchestrated Power Metal (Z.I.T.O).

So far the performance was pretty solid and it's a pity that Angra goes over the top with the very dramatic closing track titled Deep Blue that really makes no sense in the context of the album. The screaming guitar ending makes it seem like we've experienced another concept album conclusion. There is in fact a theme centered around the discovery and colonization of Brazil in the 15th-century but you really have to dig deep in order to actually notice anything resembling a storyline here. The album finally ends on an acoustic outro track that probably was meant to feel personal but I just can't get over the distracting background effects.

I remember really liking the album back in the day and was really hyped to see my first Angra live performance during the 2005 edition of Sweden Rock Festival. Unfortunately the band had to cancel their appearance right at the last minute which meant that I was treated to a complete surprise when I approached the stage area only to be met by the Swedish Stoner Metal band Mustasch. Incidentally that same band also covered for Arch Enemy during the next Sweden Rock Festival which meant that I've seen a few more Mustasch gigs than what I probably should have... but now I digress.

After my disappointment at Sweden Rock Festival I stopped listening to Angra all together. Who knows what could have happened if only the band gave their performance? Anyhow, it was nice to revisit this old friend of mine today. Even though I don't think as highly of Holy Land as I did during my teen years this is still a solid Power Metal release that fans of Shadow Gallery, Symphony X or even Kamelot might consider giving a shot.

**** star songs: Nothing To Say (6:21) Silence And Distance (5:35) Carolina IV (10:36) Holy Land (6:26) Make Believe (5:53) Z.I.T.O (6:04)

*** star songs: Crossing (1:56) The Shaman (5:23) Deep Blue (5:47) Lullaby For Lucifer (2:43)

Report this review (#281868)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars My early years listening to music was completely different from today.

First, there were a lot of Beatles. Seriously, a lot. Then, after a quickly venture into punk (Yes! From The Clash to Ramones), I went straight ahead into Heavy Metal. Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Pentagram, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Budgie and others...

Only Jethro Tull, Osanna and Nu could bring me to progressive rock. BUT, in mean times... there were ANGRA.

I listen Holy Land from front to back. Me and my brother just loved the way they could put the strong and rapid rythm of progressive and symphonic metal into all the brazilian sounds. "Carolina IV" is Axe (a northeastern music, not related with rock whatsoever), is Chorinho, is everything. Is epic, thanks to the keyboards and vocals. "Holy Land", "Nothing to say" and "The Shaman", are all true great tributes to brazilian music and Brazil itself.

Holy Land is a musical masterpiece, being a concept album about the early land of Brazil, before the "discovery" of the europeans, with a lavish art cover. Probably the only Heavy Metal album that I dont mind to hear with my brother.

Five stars, and let us praise a bit more of the experimentalism with brazilian folk.

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Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2013 | Review Permalink

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