Almah - Fragile equality 4/5

Reviewed: 12-19-08





Tracklist:

1. Birds of prey
2. Beyond tomorrow
3. Magic flame
4. All I am
5. You'll understand
6. Invisible cage
7. Fragile equality
8. Torn
9. Shade of my soul
10. Meaningless world


Almah began as a solo project for Angra singer Edu Falaschi. The first, 's/t' CD (which I have not heard, but fellow colleague Clint calls it "solid") was meant as a solo CD with some notable guest musicians. Since then Angra has taken an extended hiatus while working out management issues, and Almah has grown into a full blown band. This 2nd CD 'Fragile equality' is excellent, and while I wouldn't say it sounds exactly like Angra, I think it will appeal greatly to people hungry for a new Angra CD. The general style is power metal with various other genres veering in and out on a song by song basis. The musicianship is top notch, and the production is very good. You'll definitely think of Angra more than once while listening to this, and generally this maintains the same high level of craftsmanship in the songs you would expect from Angra.

"Birds of prey" opens the CD in fairly typical catchy, melodic power metal fashion. You can hear some slight classical keys in the background at times. That paired with Edu's distinctive vocals and some catchy yet intricate guitar work establish that Almah is a force to be reckoned with. I can't say enough about the guitar work on this CD. It's always been a strength of Angra's and here Almah (with different guitarists) proves to be more than a match for them in that department. "Magic flame" is the first song that sounds like it was yanked right off an Angra CD. In particular, the chorus is catchy and uplifting and encapsulates the sound that drew me to Angra in the first place. "All I am" is more of a slow-paced brooding track bordering on power ballad territory, which just misses losing me in large part due to some really strong harmony guitars. "You'll understand" returns to speedier fare and has a certain dark intensity in the melodies. This again sounds a bit like Angra albeit in a slightly more intense, darker direction. There are some sublime harmony guitars in the solo section here.

"Invisible cage" is probably the track that most resembles Edu's other band, as it has some of that cool tribal percussion and sort of funky riffing a la "Hunters and prey". The CD's title track is perhaps the most surprising, as it has an intensity and riffing style that borders on thrash during the verses. The chorus alters the style more towards progressive metal. This song helps to establish this band as being something different. "Torn" also has some intense riffing that you wouldn't really hear from Angra although the song is more of a straight power metal song. "Shade of my soul" is pretty much a power ballad. It's probably my least favorite song, but it's not bad or anything. The CD ends on a high note with "Meaningless world". This is another one that would fit right in on a proper Angra CD. It's loaded with speed, wonderful harmony guitars, and uplifting vocal melodies. There's a definite classical influence here too.

When Edu took over vocal duties for Andre Matos in Angra, he won me over right away. Not only was he a similar (but in my opinion stronger) vocalist than Andre, his arrival marked the band returning to a more classical power metal style that drew my attention to them in the first place. With Angra's future uncertain for the time being, I will be more than happy to move forward with Almah carrying the torch. Edu's voice is as strong as ever and his vocals are superb throughout the CD. The songwriting is very strong, and the musicianship is first rate. I am probably most entranced by the simply shredding harmony guitars that permeate the CD. This CD is very easy to recommend.



JOHN




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