Cycles Of Pain

Atomic Fire
rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Cyclus Doloris
02. Ride Into The Storm
03. Dead Man On Display
04. Tide Of Changes – Part I
05. Tide Of Changes – Part II
06. Vida Seca
07. Gods Of The World
08. Cycles Of Pain
09. Faithless Sanctuary
10. Here In The Now
11. Generation Warriors
12. Tears Of Blood

An enduring bastion of progress and power, ANGRA have consistently outclassed the opposition for the last three decades. As far back as their 1993 debut "Angels Cry", the Brazilians have been tirelessly dedicated to pushing melodic metal forward, with stunning levels of virtuoso musicianship an integral part of the plan. They even weathered the loss of guitarist Kiko Loureiro to MEGADETH without any discernible damage to their momentum: 2018's "ØMNI" was rightly hailed as the band's finest since 2004's much-revered "Temple Of Shadows", which confirmed that founder/guitarist Rafael Bittencourt has a vision that will not be swayed by trauma, time or trend.

"Cycles Of Pain" is the tenth full-length ANGRA album, and their first for the increasingly admirable Atomic Fire imprint. As ever, it sounds immaculate, with all the fine details that progressive metal demands, and several metric fuck-tons of ultra-modern metallic oomph to back it all up. Vocalist Fabio Lione has arguably never sung with more conviction, and these songs are a perfect vehicle for his lissome tones. When it comes to power metal with a huge progressive streak, ANGRA are still setting standards and making everyone else look a bit lead-footed. "Ride Into The Storm" is a case in point: essentially a bright, belligerent power metal anthem, it harbors twists and turns that few comparable bands would be able to pull off. "Dead Man On Display" is even better, with its exquisite melodic core, thunderous undercarriage and fiendish, syncopated prog metal acrobatics that are blended seamlessly into the band's fluid formula. Again, it is always worth repeating that ANGRA are considerably heavier and more brutal than the power metal average, and while there are numerous beautiful moments here, the overall impression given is of a ferocious and startlingly tight quintet at the peak of their collective powers.

The two-part "Tide Of Changes" is a high point among many. Leaning hard into their progressive reputation, ANGRA snap seamlessly from a tender, tremulous intro, to a prolonged passage of mid-paced melodrama, a wonderfully incisive chorus, and some bravely atypical chord changes and dynamic shifts that are as unexpected as they are expertly executed. Elsewhere, "Gods Of The World" is a mini-masterpiece of interwoven musical ideas that coalesce around a rugged thrash-tinged core and a tough, tumultuous chorus. The title track (which features a returning cameo from Loureiro) is simply gorgeous. Skillfully dodging all the usual power metal ballad cliches, the track builds slowly towards a tense, emotional crescendo that comes laden with strings and ambient depth. Similarly, the closing "Tears Of Blood" is lavishly arranged and full of theatrical flair as Lione duets flamboyantly with symphonic metal stalwart Amanda Somerville: a match made in melodic metal heaven.

On this evidence, ANGRA should have no concerns about being overshadowed by any of their peers. "Cycles Of Pain" is incredibly classy, substantial and technically dazzling. It's just what they do.

Author: Dom Lawson
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