Aquaria - Shambala review


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Band: Aquaria
Album: Shambala
Release date: September 2007

01. Hope
02. Heart Of The Gods
03. Expedition
04. Into The Forest
05. Lost
06. Iara
07. Shambala
08. Child Of The Universe
09. Firewings
10. Skies Of Amazonia
11. Liberty
12. Neo [Japanese bonus]

After the release of two demos (under the name Uirapuru) and the full-length ''Luxaeterna'', Aquaria presented us in 2007 the epic "Shambala." The second album of the band, mixed by the famous producer Tommy Hansen (Helloween, Pretty Maids, Jorn Lande, TNT), this specific work presents the same excellent Symphonic/Power Metal from the previous, with the same elements of classic music and Brazillian folklore, but with a small detail: it surpasses the previous works in musicality, maturity and principally in theme.

Thematically and lyrically, Shambala is perfect, the plot stories in the songs turned this good power metal work into an beautiful epic. The central theme of the album is a love story that is happening at the time of ''Entradas e Bandeiras'', the expeditions taken by the Portuguese with the purpose of search for mineral wealth and capture (or extermination) of indigenous or African slaves. A Portuguese adventurer travels to Brazil and becomes a ruthless man who brings cruelty and death in search for gold and power. In his search he ends up finding Iara, the mother of waters (and a famous mermaid named ''Mãe-d'água'' in Brazilian tradition), for whom he falls in love. Cruelty and greed vanishes from his body after this moment. However, in attempt to reach his love, the adventurer dies swallowed by the waters of a river.

This is where "Shambala" enters. According to Tibetan beliefs, ''Shambhala'' or ''Shambhala'' is a realm of spiritual purity achieved by few. There, this man once cruel, but submitted to a sacrifice of love, is released from the sins of his past life and receive the right to return from the ashes and reborn in the form of an ''Homem pássaro'' (bird man). He now feels attached to the land and the people in this new world, and struggles to save the lives of those who were previously wounded by his sins: the indians.

About the music, this is a good example of how difficult it is to recreate the magic formula Angra's ''Holy Land''. The indigenous flutes and percussion don't fit as perfectly as Holy Land, but still presents some quality atmosphere that fits with the theme. After the small intro track, ''Heart of the Gods'' presents us how the album is going to be: catchy melodies, with well-structured songs and organized choruses and solos. This formula almost never changes until the end of the album, but it doesn't mean an incessant repetitiveness, it seems more a secure stability.

''Into The Forest'' deserves a comment, simply epic, indigenous instruments in evidence, a wonderful solo and the lyrics showing the Portuguese adventurer's first encounter with Iara, name of the next track, in which the adventurer dies in the river. Unfortunately, ''Iara'' and the subsequent ''Shambala'' are the worst songs in the album; although they are not bad, they seem different from the others for they simplicity and lack of passion (especially Shambala). But if I had to choose a major highlight in this album it would be ''Skies of Amazônia'', the songs that most perfectly mix the tribal elements with metal. Not to mention that it is the heaviest song in "Shambala", yet it still manages to be emotionally rich.

To conclude, despite the good but unstable performance, the theme, lyrics and production are close to perfection. ''Shambala'' is a first class Symphonic metal work, recommended to all fans of the genre; no one will end up disappointed. It is not only an album, but a beautiful story. Vitor Veiga already revealed that Aquaria is working on new material since December of 2008, so a new album should be coming on 2009. The expectation is high for the new story they have to tell.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Production: 9

Written by Uirapuru | 25.04.2009


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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