Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Andre Matos: History/Thoughts (Part 3)

Impulse Music
Back in the mid 90's I attended what seemed like monthly Record/Music shows in the Twin Cities. Bootleg cassettes and cds I often would find and VHS (and later DVDs). Most went for the Vinyl, but of course then I wasn't collecting Vinyl.

So not long after my discovery of Dream Theater and the post-Rush prog metal, at 1 of the shows was an out-of-town vendor named Impulse Music.

Impulse introduced me to a few then and still now obscure Prog/Prog Metal bands from memory: Without Warning. Metropolis, Tiles among the better ones
(edit: Tiles now thinking about it, I discovered from another import company out of Michigan I think.)

And of course Impulse sent me their catalog periodically in the mail.

I would scan through the names/titles of cds and the comments by them.

Angra of course was in there and at the beginning of the alphabet. But they I guess were 1 of Impulse's most popular bands. I don't even recall what they were described as in the catalog. Maybe Helloween meets Rush? something like that.

So I ended up blind buying both Angels Cry and Holy Land upon the suggestion of the people at Impulse who I called and talked to as they did their business out of Roselle, IL.

But Holy Land, Angels Cry and even the EPs I guess sold really well from them, so I took the plunge and felt incredibly thankful.

Power Metal or "Progressive Power Metal"

This was and I guess still is a big point of contention.

"Power Metal" was never a label I loved or even totally followed. The music was more about fast, speedy playing, rather than thick, loud, heavy, powerful riffs. But the term stuck, and the elements were present in many bands that came before and have come since Angra and Shaman.

But to me, when Andre Matos fronted Angra, and more or less all the music he did, the music incorporated classical and ethnic (Brazilian) elements. That to me was more "progressive" than "power." Sure there were/are those fast/speedy major-key sections ala Yngwie Malmsteen, but they were combined with dynamics and jazzy elements. Plus the symphonic and classical/orchestral sections to me were done a lot differently than most "Power Metal."

And even on the old Jerry Lucky Tree of Progressive Rock, under "Progressive Metal" Angra was included.

So to me, Angra with Andre Matos and then Shaman were as much if not more "progressive metal" than "power metal."

I guess I've come to conclude the best way to describe Andre's style of Heavy music is "progressive power metal" but the whole impasse of semantics of genres and subgenres of course comes up.

But I always did and still do think to call Angra with Andre Matos and Shaman "Power Metal" is selling that music far too short.

Angra to Shaman

So in 1998 Angra released Fireworks, their 3rd record with Andre, and I guess initially I liked a lot of it, but not as much as the other two records. I do think it grew on me and aged well. I mean I would still not place it ahead of Holy Land nor Angels Cry, but it's quite a good record that maybe be a little overproduced, but I would say that issue doesn't bug me so much. There's a lot of good tunes on it, including the bonus track "Rainy Nights."

But among the Angra camp, things were not all that smooth I guess. And as I read over the weekend, Fireworks was not a record Andre was as crazy about, maybe sound-wise, I dunno.

Ultimately Andre and Rafael Bittencourt were at odds and Andre had to leave Angra. Drummer Ricardo Confessori and bassist Luis Mariutti also left to join Andre to form Shaman. That was sometime in the year 2000.

Which at that point as a fan, I was a little torn, but found my primary loyalties lied with Andre and the others in Shaman. But I still wanted to be a fan of Angra. However, I found their sound went further into traditional Power Metal and maybe as much if not more importantly, their new singer Edu Falaschi I just never was won over by (I actually wondered if someone like Midnight from Crimson Glory might be someone to become the new Angra singer). He sounded like the singer from Rhapsody and dozens of other Power Metal bands. And Angra as-a-whole did on their album Rebirth which was released in the year 2001.

And it was also weird on the forums online around that time, especially Mike Portnoy's forum, my screen name for 17 years was "angra1." Which suggested I was a huge fan of Angra, which at the time I signed up in February 2000, I was. But with Rebirth and with some of the albums that came later, especially Temple of Shadows, they had some buzz. But it put me in a bit of a weird spot.

Shaman of course I loved from the get go. Ritual from 2002 is among the best progressive/power metal albums this Century. And I guess the song "Fairy Tale" per a video Kiko Lureiro posted on Saturday, was actually intended to be an Angra song. Maybe per the direction they went with Fireworks, it never became one.

And I love Fairy Tale, but part of me is curious how it might come out with Angra. Frankly, had Fireworks not been more Power Metal, I wonder what it would have sounded like, or i.e. had Andre written most if not all the music on it to a follow-up to Holy Land, and maybe Angra spent as much if not more time than they did with Holy Land, that follow-up album could have been unbelievable.

But, that's all a coulda/woulda/shoulda/parallel universe.

Now the whole thing that later happened with Shaman after their 2nd album Reason, I think I didn't follow all that closely. That was during the myspace days and honestly, like Japanese and other Asian artists, Brazilian bands and Andre specifically only seemed to be online within Brazilian circles from my memory. And then and later I noticed even from some of the stuff I read and saw this weekend, his online presence and social media presence wasn't incredibly active.

I mean I say that with not finding it if there was. There are Facebook and maybe some Twitter pages, and truth be, I and the forums I'm on, didn't keep too up with him the last 10 years or more.

His solo albums though, I enjoy all of, Time to Be Free especially. I remember in 2007 when that came out, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. I have the CD in storage, although I can note to remembering that it's still in the shrink wrap, lol.

Mentalize and The Turn of the Lights from 2010 and 2012, I remember enjoying but not as much as Time to Be Free. His voice I think may not quite be what it was in terms of singing soaring falsettos and things. But the truth is, I have not listened to either of those albums as well in many years and could go for it.

Superior - Detect: Myself

This track is awesome and back in 1999-2000 when I picked the 2nd Superior disc Younique, I was pleasantly surprised to see Andre as a guest on it. This is probably the 1 significant guest appearance he did that I have known and loved, even if it's just some echoing parts from Michael Tangerman and a couple other spots in the vocals. He makes a great song even greater.

edit: I remember hearing about this, but frankly, NEVER HEARD IT.

Andre singing with Superior on "Why" (Acoustic)

I think it may have been on the Japanese edition of Younique, I dunno. But that makes me want to find a CD copy of this version even more now.

But the whole thing that also stuck out with Andre and the Angra guys was the conflict. I was only following it from afar and in more recent years, not at all. But I know the split between Kiko and Rafael with Andre and the guys who followed him to Shaman went on and on. I think it was mostly Andre and Rafael, but I dunno the long winded details.

I guess unlike Chris DeGarmo and Queensryche, it's too bad they never fully made amends. But of some of the comments said Shaman's and Angra's managers were going to talk soon and Angra was planning a 30-year anniversary concert reuniting as many if not all the ex-members.

Obviously now that can't fully happen.

Although the thought just occurred to me, maybe they could do a SPECIAL 1-NIGHT ANDRE MATOS TRIBUTE CONCERT ALA THE FREDDIE MERCURY TRIBUTE AT WEMBLEY???

even with some of those singers who like Freddie Mercury tributes, aren't Andre. But I would definitely want to hear it anyway. Hell, in a perfect world, I would love to HANDPICK some. ProgPowerUSA actually COULD AND SHOULD CONSIDER doing that not this year, but maybe in 2020.

While he was super young when in this band initially, I love Andre so much, I really should invest some time with it. Especially the reunion album and maybe some of the live stuff. I don't think it's progressive like Angra/Shaman necessarily, but just to hear his vocals and consider he wrote some of it, I may have slept on it for far too long.

Looking-Glass-Self + Virgo
I'm revisiting it and some of the other stuff like his appearances with Avantasia and Symfonia.
I kind of suspect LGS will always remain this totally underground obscure thing that could have been amazing. I was revisiting it the other day and still loved it. It was like progressive folk pop/rock with a very cool mood and dynamic.

Virgo: I believe I own the CD and will try revisit soon as well. I remember liking the album back in 2001, but at the same time not getting as attached to it as I figured I would. I know it's with Sascha Paeth, whose well known among Power Metal fans, but the music of Virgo I don't recall having much Power Metal in it.

I may try and go over Holy Land  and Angels Cry as well, but this covers a lot of what I was wanting to write over the last few days about Andre Matos.