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AGHORA

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States


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Aghora biography
AGHORA is an intriguing and unusual metal/jazz rock band from Florida. It was put together by guitar virtuoso (and Berklee-trained) Santiago Dobles together with ex-CYNIC members Sean Reinert (drums) and Sean Malone (bass). They were later joined on vocals by Santiago's sister Danishta Rivero, a classically-trained mezzo-soprano, and by death metal guitarist Charlie Ekendahl. If you are familiar with death metal pioneers CYNIC, you will have a good idea of where this music stands; however, AGHORA isn't a CYNIC clone as Santiago incorporates many new influences to the material, making it a bit jazzier and more oriental sounding. Echoes of Allan Holdsworth, MAHAVISHNU and especially Steve Vai can be heard in this music.

This is highly technical progressive metal and not easy to get into; once you've got beyond the complexity, however, you can't help but appreciate the immense talent in this band: their music is intense, fun and exciting; ambitious but not pretentious. The two guitarists, who frequently provide heavily distorted riffs, complement each other well and the jazzy bass guitar is aggressive yet consistently melodic. The purity of Rivero's melodic vocals (a far cry from your regular 'cookie monster' growls) seems to make the instrumental parts even crunchier, while the abrasive musical textures in turn make her voice sound that much more ethereal. The only flaw is perhaps the poor mixing, which tends to muddle and drown the drums.

Recommended for tech-metal fans who don't mind adding a little jazz flavour to their metal diet.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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FormlessFormless
Season of Mist 2007
Audio CD$6.51
$4.50 (used)
AghoraAghora
Dobles Productions 2000
Audio CD$79.99
$6.75 (used)
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AGHORA discography


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AGHORA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.73 | 57 ratings
Aghora
1999
3.74 | 60 ratings
Formless
2006

AGHORA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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AGHORA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Transitions (demos 97-99)
2006

AGHORA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Aghora by AGHORA album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.73 | 57 ratings

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Aghora
Aghora Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by VOTOMS

3 stars I totally agreed reading UMUR's review. After all the praise, the vocals are exactly what I don't like at this album. Agora is a floridian jazz/metal band featuring Death/Cynic members. This album is under different settings. This is not death or extreme metal. But it's very technical. Aghora has an oriental touch (sometimes Latin influences too), and is a female fronted band, and the fusion of this two points generates the mistake. Santiago Dobles's sister has a good voice, but this project would be better without her. While the music is pretty detailed, with Sean Reinert amazing drums and Sean Malone incredible outstanding basslines, the melodic lines are boring. I do not like her way of singing. I'm a little bit prejudiced when I heard about female fronted metal bands, because most of the leading girls are very similar "goth" chicks, singing just the same way and sameness melodic music style. Well, this album could not be bad at all, we have a great line-up here, but the mix of Cynic/Gordian Knot with this kind of female vocals really don't pleases me. Other hand, this debut album is actually much more better than Formless (2006 album).

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 Aghora by AGHORA album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.73 | 57 ratings

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Aghora
Aghora Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by dragonspirit

4 stars Compared to their second album, this one is more varied, stylistically, and there is much more jazz influence. Not surprisingly (due to the presence of the two former Cynic members) this album is like a hybrid between Cynic's first record, Focus; Aghora's second album, Formless; and the two Gordian Knot albums. Although it may be argued that there is not enough jazz influence to make this album qualify as "fusion", if there is enough, then I would say that this is among the top two jazz-metal fusion albums that I've heard so far. To me, it is also one of the top progressive metal albums that I've heard, and I have heard a lot!

In terms of weaknesses, some of the vocals on the final track, Anugraha, are too musically "easy" or "pretty", and at times, the guitar riffs can be a repetitive. Some overdubs or additional layering on top of what is there could have made some songs more interesting.

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 Aghora by AGHORA album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.73 | 57 ratings

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Aghora
Aghora Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The Florida death metal scene. It had spawned such great bands as Death, Cynic, Atheist which I note since they also pushed death metal in a technical/progressive direction. Well, one very unknown Florida metal band is Aghora. This is their debut album, and it is a great one! It is a nice merger of metal and jazz. However, unlike Atheist and Cynic before them, this is NOT death metal. While they may have heavy riffs, (and do they!) the music is far from death metal.

Even farther are the vocals. In fact Aghora uses a female vocalist. This adds obvious melodicism but also beauty. Atheist was jazzy metal, but pretty rough on most average people I'd imagine. Perhaps Cynic is better, bet still rooted in death metal somewhat. "Aghora" has some heaviness but that is about it. The vocals really add icing to the cake. The music is brilliant! However, the beautiful, sometimes chilling, vocals just really pull it together.

In terms of music, this debut album album is actually MORE progressive then "Formless" in my opinion. Formless is a lot heavier, with a lot more use of Santiago's crushing riffs. "Aghora" however, is almost more jazzy then metal! Almost, maybe it's about 50/50. Anyway, its a nice blend of jazz and metal. Lot's of melodicism.

Santiago's guitar work is amazing. He can play heavy riffs, jazzy licks, beautiful minimalist pieces, and lots of trippy, (almost eastern sounding) noises, (thanks to Sitar!). He is a wonderful soloist as well. His solo's range from shred metal, to flamenco, as well as melodic.

Sean Malone, of Cynic fame, plays bass on this album and it is glorious! You can hear it much more than there second release, (which is a shame because Alan Goldstein is amazing! I recommend you check out his youtube page!). Anyway, Malone lays down some truly amazing bass. He also plays the piano, which does have some use on the album.

On drums we have Sean Reinert, from Death and Cynic, (crazy, two big names in the Florida metal scene appear on this album yet it is still so obscure). Anyway, Sean's drumming is amazing. It is jazzy, tasteful, technical and complex and he can lay down some nice double bass! His drumming on this album, (as well as Formless) is almost never thrashy, (at least not too thrashy) which again separates Aghora from it's tech/jazzy death metal counterparts.

Every song on this album is great, and there are never slow/boring parts. I am captivated from beginning to end. This is one of those rare jewels. A real musical journey, maybe it's not experimental enough for some proggers, but I never got that. I mean how much music is different EVERY song, and personally this album is quite varied. Each song takes you through different pieces and frankly, the music ranges from cool to melodic, from nice to downright beautiful.

While you can't go wrong with any song, I will say the second half of "Frames" is truly beautiful. The type where if I was lying down, with music quiet, totally dark I could almost go to a different place in my mind. Any fan of prog-metal, metal, jazz fusion, harder prog MUST check out this album. I guess if you have no tolerance for heavy guitar then this may not be right for you, but please give it a listen.

Five Stars

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 Formless by AGHORA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.74 | 60 ratings

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Formless
Aghora Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by pfdfcc

5 stars This album caught me by surprise. Having never listened to this band before, and extreme progressive-metal generally residing on the outskirts of my musical territory, I was immediately captivated by this release. From the exotic opening notes of "Lotus", which kind of sets the table for the middle-eastern influenced display of technical prowess that is to follow. In my opinion, the only weak track on the whole album is the second one, "Atmas Heave", which isn't really bad, just overshadowed by the towering achievements that make up the rest of the CD. I usually associate female vocalists with power/symphonic metal and, since those genre's usually don't make a big impression on me, I wasn't sure how this would go over. Her name is Diana Serra and she is terrific! Her flowing, almost mystical vocal style perfectly compliments the softer passages and also has the power to hold her own over the fury of Santiago Dobles's knife edge attack. Speaking of Dobles, his lead breaks, which punctuate each song, sometimes multiple times, are blistering! This guy pulls off each solo with speed and precision, and its not just a bunch of notes thrown together.....the composition of the break captivates the listener, showcasing a beautiful sense of melody within the context of the musical theme. As I mentioned before, the quieter segments appear frequently in each track and they stand out as some of the most interesting listening moments. The arrangements are top-notch, displaying a tremendous understanding of what it takes to keep the listener engaged. Just because I haven't mentioned the bass player or drummer yet, doesn't mean these guys don't know what they're doing, Both present spectacular technique thoughout. As I've said before, almost all the tracks shine, but one in particular just floored me........"Dual Alchemy". If you can find a way to sample just this one track, that should do it for you. Or you could just take my word for it and simply buy this outright. One of the best releases of 2006, hands down!!!!!!!!

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 Aghora by AGHORA album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.73 | 57 ratings

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Aghora
Aghora Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Debut album of Miami's Aghora isn't just your next metal album. No way. Metal quartet plus classically trained female vocals. Not very usual combination for the year 1999.But it is not all story.

They aren't playing operatic metal or symphonic pop-metal, as many bands started to play some years later. They are playing metal fusion - melted mix of heavy metal ( even trash) sound and jazz structures and rhythms. Intrigued? OK, and their rhythm section is Sean Malone (bass) and Sean Reinert ( drums, tabla, percussion), Cynic's rhythm section! So, now you know what to expect from their music.

But there is not Cynic's clone. They use many Latin and orient elements in their music, plus female vocalist Danishta Rivero sings in almost angel's soprano voice. Unhappily, music isn't focused enough, Danishta's classic vocal is of very limited range, so after few songs sound become a bit monotonic. But the best album's value is great rhythm section!

Interesting enough example of not very usual metal fusion music. Especially recommended for everyone, who likes Cynic or Sean Malone works. As well for fans of female singers in metal music - very original and unusual combination ( much more exclusive, than Opeth, Nightwish or Without Temptation).

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 Formless by AGHORA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.74 | 60 ratings

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Formless
Aghora Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Ovidiu

5 stars I ask myself why sometimes the conaisseurs in prog are so pretentious?!?!Why?!?!This album has everything to be considered a brilliant album in prog metal.offering something quite unusual-a sensational female vocalist,the superbe DIANA SERRA which is simply astonishing!If we think that an album of 70 minutes of pure guitar wizzardry and not only,doesn't has any minute of poor music,and some prog fans are dissatisfied,musically speaking,of course,so what else can be sayed?The beautiful introduction LOTUS is amazingly fallowed by the furious instrumental cascade of ferocious riffs of ATMAS HEAVE and the angelic vocals of DIANA proves that SANTIAGO DOBLES is back with a vengeance!The rhythm section by Mr SEAN REINERTon the drumms ,proving on this album that he is absolutelly brilliant and ALAN GOLDSTEIN on bass-a true revelation, is very efficient and spectacular.The too long wait for this second AGHORA full album worthed it plenty!We are enchanted with 70 minutes of sensational compositions rich in wonderful ideas and performed by such talented musicians!Unbelieveble effort to deliver such complex,complicated and sophisticated music.To be honest,each solo of Santiago Dobles is mindblowing and undoubtedly he is one of the most spectacular guitar players in today's music!He has a frantic and ferocioiuus technique and proves that aggressive prog metal needs great solos in a complex song to make the composition even more valuable and memorable!!!The title song is a revelation and gave the whole measure of the huge talent of this very,very promissing band!!!Stay tuned for 2010!Mr Dobles has many surprises for AGHORA fans and not only!!!Almost a masterpiece this album!MEMORABLE!!! 4,5 STARS from all my heart and mind of prog metal fan!!!

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 Formless by AGHORA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.74 | 60 ratings

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Formless
Aghora Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars AGHORA are a very talented band based in Miami, Florida. Some big changes in the lineup since their debut. Sean Malone is gone which hurts, we get a new vocalsist Diana Serra who's excellent to say the least, and a new drummer although Sean Reinert drums on about half of the tracks still.

"Lotus" is very exotic sounding and is dedicated to John McLaughlin. "Atmas Heave" opens with the pedal to the metal right off the hop. Deep riffs follow and crisp drumming before the vocals come in. I must say the guitar work often reminds me of Jasun Tipton from ZERO HOUR. It settles before 2 minutes and sounds amazing. It doesn't last long though as contrasts continue. "Moksha" sounds great to open before it settles as the vocals arrive. Contrasts continue. The crunchy guitar sounds outstanding on this one. "Open Close The Book" doesn't do anything for me lyrically that's for sure but it opens with thunderous drums but settles when vocals come in. Yes this contrast of styles continues. "Garuda" opens with laid back guitar as drums and percussion come in. The tempo starts to pick up. Here we go ! An all out assault with blistering guitar leads. Nice. "Dual Alchemy" is aggressive right from the start but settles with vocals rather quickly as contrasts continue. Love the atmosphere that comes in at 3 minutes. Killer guitar follows.

"Dime" is a tribute to Dimebag Darrell and it's an instrumental. It's heavy to open then it calms down as contrasts continue. "1316" is intense with vocals. It settles before 2 minutes. It's intense again ! "Fade" is a top three track for me. Some guest flamenco guitar to open as bass comes in. This is all fairly mellow as reserved vocals come in. It kicks in around a minute but not for long. Check out the guitar before 2 minutes grinding away as Diana sings. Nice bass before 4 minutes. "Skinned" is uptempo with vocals. I like when it settles down before 1 1/2 minutes. Contrasts continue. Great guitar 5 minutes in. "Mahayana" opens fast and heavy. Some prominant bass before 2 minutes. Again the heavy and lighter sections are contrasted. "Formless" is my favourite by far. Vocals and heavy riffs right away before it settles 3 minutes in. Amazing section. I like when the guitar comes in at 4 minutes and it builds. It kicks back in with Tipton-like guitar. Great sound 7 1/2 minutes in. "Purification" is another exotic sounding track like the opening song. This one has vocals though.

My biggest complaint is the way the songs all seem to follow the same pattern. As I was writing notes I found myself repeating the same things over and over. This has really grown on me though but it's not quite 4 stars.

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 Formless by AGHORA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.74 | 60 ratings

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Formless
Aghora Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

4 stars My younger brother introduced me to Aghora. I remember a time when it used to be the other way around... Regardless, I am glad he did! Aghora, and their album Formless, are truly wonderful! Formless is one of my favorite Prog-Metal albums. It has heavy, crushing riffs, blistering double bass, and wonderful guitar solos. However, this is no standard metal album. Virtually every song has several musical interludes featuring clean, jazzy guitar, melodic solos, and very jazz inspired drumming. Then it shifts back to it's crushing riffs, double bass drumming, and metal solo's.

Santiago Dobles lays down some amazing riffs, some of my favorite ones of ANY metal band. However, he shows his ability for melody and technicality, and it often sounds beautiful. Diana Serra on vocals is just amazing. Her voice is simply beautiful, and very soothing. While it fits perfectly for the slower, melodic sections it sounds just as good over the metal riffs as well. As a drummer, I always appreciate an album with great drumming, and this one sure has it! Sean Reinert, (formerly from Death, and Cynic) is brilliant. While he can lay down some good double bass, he has some superb jazz beats, solos, and overall...he just lays down some great sounding beats. My favorite aspect of the album for sure!

The first and last tracks, (Lotus and Purification) are very Eastern/Tribal sounding. Perhaps the way to describe it is "World Music". My personal favorite songs are Atmas Heave and Dime, (an instrumental). 1316 has an especially heavy beginning, while Moksha has a wonderful heavy, yet groovy, riff through most of the song. Open Close the Book has a great phaser/trippy intro before it plunges into the riff.

However, few albums are perfect. While every songs sounds good, none really standout. That is this album's only flaw in my opinion. All the songs do sound a bit the same, and can be predictable. While they all do sound nice, and of course each song is different, they all have a pattern. Heavy riff, followed by melodic section, then another heavy section, followed by another melodic one, (often with a metal solo). While it is the albums only problem, it is a major one. Again, I love the way it all sounds, but it is quite predictable...

Overall, I give this album 4 stars. If you are a fan of Prog-Metal, (or even Metal in general) I highly recommend this CD.

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 Formless by AGHORA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.74 | 60 ratings

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Formless
Aghora Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Good, but could have been so much more.

I got this group on various internet radio Prog Metal mixes and became addicted to the song Fade. This song included some jazzy clean guitar along with the crunch. Eastern influence are also found here and there on the album, most prominently on the intro and outro tracks which are strangely short. I was hoping for more of that ethnic feel incorporated into the music, but for the most part this is pretty straight female-fronted technical metal. In that sense it suffers from what many of these acts do, which is lack of melodic sense. Which is not to say the singer doesn't have a good voice, but the vocals seemed tacked on the top of songs that were already composed.

The technicals chops of the guitarist are quite impressive. The jazziness of the leads adds a very good flavor, and I like the leads here as much as Symphony X. The riffs are fine, though nothing outstanding, and the guitar tone is typical for genre but not my favorite. The rhythm section is solid.

Overall there are some good songs, but a sameness to the album that I've only listened all the way through once. I do have Fade on several playlists and enjoy the more exotic tracks. Also, as a guitar player, it's always cool to find a new shredder who's actually got something interesting to say.

This is filed under technical metal which is correct, but it has more in common with Symphony X than Death or Opeth.

Good, but non-essential describes it well.

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 Aghora by AGHORA album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.73 | 57 ratings

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Aghora
Aghora Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Aghora" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Aghora. The album was released Dobles Productions Inc. in october 2000. The label is owned by band founder, main composer and guitarist Santiago Dobles. In addition to Santiago Dobles on lead guitars, Aghora also feature female vocalist Danishta Rivero, rythm guitarist Charlie Ekendahl, Sean Malone on bass and Sean Reinert on drums. The latter two are known for being the rythm section on "Focus (1993)" by Cynic but also for their involvement in other high profile acts like Gordian Knot and Death.

The music style is somewhat in the vein of Cynic but with a latin music touch. That means progressive/technical metal with a strong fusion rythm section. What stands out the most though is lead vocalist Danishta Rivero. It was quite unusual to have a female singer in a technical/progressive metal band in 2000 (and probably still is today) and she really adds a unique element to the bandīs sound. Unfortunately her singing style is rather monotone and the melody lines are not very strong or memorable either. Itīs quite a shame because she has a beautiful voice. Iīll be honest and say that I would have preferred some Chuck Shuldiner type raw vocals instead or preferably some more memorable melody lines. When that is said the instrumental part of the album is excellent. We are talking high quality technical/fusion metal with progressive twists and turns played by very skilled musicians.

...Iīm kinda biased towards this album, as I find the instrumental part of the album irresistably charming while the melody lines and the monotone female vocals leave me cold. Iīll try not to let the latter issue affect my rating too much. Iīve read other reviews that praises the vocals, so I guess itīs an aquired taste. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

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