SHAMAN – Ritual

SHAMAN - Ritual


Release date: June 21, 2002

User Review
9.5/10 (1 vote)

Who would have imagined last year, that Angra returned with a fantastic album like “Rebirth”? Well, I didn’t. My expectations were – no offence Rafael and Kiko – much greater for this one; Andre Matos’ new band, Shaman, which also features the incredible rhythm section from the old Angra, Luis Mariutti on bass and Ricardo Confessori on drums and anything he can get his hands on. Together with Luis’ brother, Hugo, who is the band’s sole guitarist, and helped by legendary producer Sascha Paeth, Ritual is now reality, a conceptual album said to be based on atmospheres, environments and moods. The question with an album written by Andre Matos is not if it is good. It’s more a question of; how good is it? And boys and girls – this album is really good. Just like expected. To be dead honest, I expected a straight 10 points, but I can’t say an 8 is disappointing. Ritual has every aspect of Angra that today’s Angra hasn’t – and vice versa.

Does that sound weird? Okay, I will explain. Without saying that I miss the very percussive and symphonic music in today’s Angra (as they still have maintained quite a bit of it), and without saying that Hugo Mariutti as a not-so-brilliant guitar player – Shaman simply has less brilliant guitar work (who doesn’t have less brilliant fingers and six-string understanding and cooperation than Kiko and Rafael???), but more tribal, percussive and symphonic elements to its music. Yes, this is kind of a “Holy Land Part II”, but without the fantastic dual guitar work (but still with highly respectable guitar playing). The melodies throughout the record are first a bit hard to get used to, but when you have been ritually blessed, like I was after 4-5 times, the songs are indeed catchy. To put it straight; every line in every song has a great melody combined with the atmosphere and elements of instruments used to back it up. Just when something sounds a little ordinary, there’s an instrument or simply a sound added that not only saves the part, but makes you play the CD over and over again. To sum it up; Andre Matos is a genius composer, but hey, that’s nothing for the 6 o’clock news.

Speaking of Matos, a singer I know lots of people always had an issue with (poor folks). His voice is used in a more diverse and perhaps “grown-up” way than ever before. Yeah, he can still shatter glass, but here and there he’s also raspy. And he has a great technique, with a strong sense of melody. While I am still speaking of Matos, why not add that he also is unique behind the keys/piano. Just like Jon Oliva, Andre can put so much emotion and feel into a single strike on the keys, that you can easily hear who is playing. And that, my friends, is rare. A guitar player can easily do it, as he can bend the strings his way, but a piano player? No, you need a God’s gift like Matos (and Oliva) has.

Moving on to the songs, “Ancient Wisdom” is an intro that I wish had gone on forever. It’s very thematic, and don’t be surprised if Andre one day is approached to do a movie soundtrack. “Here I Am” is a typical fast opener in true Angra fashion. (Sorry for mentioning Angra every here and there, but I can’t help it!) It’s a good song, but nowhere near “Angels Cry” or “Nothing To Say” (or “Nova Era” – ops, slapping my hands!) The highlight is without doubt “Over Your Head”, the album’s most progressive track. The song is built up like “Carolina IV”, though not as fast, and it features a keyboard solo by Derek Sherinian. It has a chorus that sticks to your head like napalm. “Fairy Tale” is the ballad, and it is a typical Angra ballad. It has enormous beauty and a touch of lament, and it is very expressively sung. Simply stunning. I also have to mention the title track, a great song with a cool and different guitar sound.

All in all, here’s one of the best CDs you likely will hear this year, presuming that you like this kind of quality music, of course. Welcome back, Andre, Luis and Ricardo, and also a warm welcome to Hugo Mariutti. Andre Matos is right; life is good!


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