Angra - Ømni

Angra Ømni cover
Of all things… Angra, have gone through ups and downs and 2015 and “Secret Garden” sort of started a third nova “era” in Angra’s history – but one that wasn’t quite as impressive as their highly original – latin sprinkled power metal with superb musicianship of yesteryear, but an almost equally impressive heavy modern prog power that did have some similarities with their past, but didn’t really connect that strongly with their glorious past.
The inclusion of the pretty talented Fabio Lione (Rhapsody, etc.) as a new lead singer, after he aided them for a long while with live performance and Kiko Loureiro’s waning focus, as he also became the main guitarist for Megadeth, have further caused changes in the band’s balance. Despite all the changes, the riffs at most times are rather identifiable, while the rhythm team of Andreoli (who is by now a bit of a veteran since he’s been around for more than fifteen years) and Valverde on drums, does get the job done quite impressively and despite not being the “original” guys, they sure help in providing a bit of a link with the past by showing a relative faithfulness for what made their predecessor’s playing – identifiable, but without sacrificing their personal touch.
It’s impossible to deny that these newer albums are not as impressive as the Matos or Falaschi albums, but that doesn’t mean that these Lione albums are terrible, or undeserving of some merit. It’s for the listener to decide if they like the “new” chemistry of the band compared to their past.
“Light of Transcendence” feels like a semi-successful attempt to write a fast double bass number, with impressive orchestrations. It tries to be typical Angra, but because of the way Lione sings, it does sound a bit like an Angra tune that relies in a few parts too much on old mannerisms, hijacked by Lione’s bombast and a bit of the generic feel that has plagued a fair few of the most recent Kamelot albums.
“Travelers of Time” is more straightforward, leaning a bit more towards Falaschi era blueprints, but again with the different flair and vibe that Lione’s vocals offer.
“Black Widow’s Web” features 2 female guests, in Alissa White-Gluz (who sounds her usual venomous) and a Brazilian singer/actress identified as Sandy. The former feels a bit over the top in an Angra tune in all honesty a bit out of place. I understand she’s popular, but… feeling you have to apply her everywhere for marketing purposes. The harsh vocals if anything take away than add to the song – since the lines Lione sings are pretty nice (and Kamelot-esque), but far too often are interrupted for some growling. Actually when AWG doubles some of Lione’s lines in a clear yet driven voice, as a backing vocal, she sounds positively way better. The Sandra lady seems to be utilized during the intros and outros and is OK I suppose – a bit like Charlotte, the Delain lady.
“Insania”, without being necessarily too much typical of Angra, is the better track to that point, with a very cool chorus and focus in its songwriting. It’s not Geoff Tate related either by the way, although it’s interesting that he’s supporting them on some tour dates and probably supplying his eponymous wine for the tour, I would imagine!
Rafael takes singing duties for “Bottom of My Soul”, not to be confused with the Toto song of the same name. He puts in his best clean Hansi impersonation in a track that’s not too bad in its own right, but doesn’t win you over either, despite a neat solo in the middle.
“War Horns” is a bit of a throwback to the first couple of songs, with its fast paced, double bass drumming and nice melodies during the chorus. The whole “go!” shout to get a solo on after a verse that goes a bit awry and carries on a little too long, as a break; I suppose is a bit of a nod to the past. The solo is fitting and it sort of manages to inject some much needed energy after a slower part.
The rhythmic “Caveman” is pretty experimental and hard to take in, since the Tribal Brazilian part at the beginning feels a bit “forced” in there for “traditional” reasons, as a nod to past songs that invoked and utilized that invention successfully. Here… not quite so. Another solo to note is included here.
“Magic Mirror” felt to my ears a bit like a combo of early Theater and a bit of Malmsteen-esque, aesthetics (the latter to a much lesser extend), but its piano sections toward the end sort of make it a bit different, but also more reliant on if the listener will feel enveloped by the melodies, which seem to segue into “Always More” with verses sung OK-ish by Rafael & the chorus provided by Lione in his inimitable style. In all honesty, I wouldn’t mind it – if it all had been Lione with a few “Rafael” lines for variety than this “segmentation”.
I understand that the next two songs go a bit hand in hand as a suite of sorts (?); “Silence Inside” is a nice, eight minute prog-thing with nice spacy ambiance and some pretty nice keyboard layers that give it a symphonic air. “Infinite Nothing” is a bit of a postludium that reprises some sections from the album.
Probably a bit more “metallic” than “Secret Garden”, but not necessarily better or worse for that matter. I’d say, while I enjoyed a fair few melodies on “Ømni”, it feels as a stretch to keep calling the band Angra. It’s still a good band, but the album is a far cry from the inspired and groundbreaking material that the band released in peak form.