The third full-length studio album from Brazil's metal powerhouse Angra is the best of all the albums featuring the old-lineup. Singer Andre Matos proves, once again, that he is one of the best singers in power metal with a delightful vocal performance throughout the album.
Fireworks is much more metal-sounding than the previously released Holy Land, which featured Brazilian folk elements. Fireworks is a very balanced album, with a nice selection of powerful and speedy tracks, the mandatory ballads, and a very nice "experiment".
Let me give you a small review of all the tracks found on the album:
1. Wings of Reality (4.0/5.0) - The album kicks in with Wings of Reality, a track that features that classic, warm Angra sound that we all love. The song itself is pretty good, with a nice chorus, and a long solo which is excellent, borrowing some elements from classical music. My only complaint with this song is that the chorus could've used a little extra work.
2. Petrified Eyes (4.5./5.0) - This is a very interesting (if not weird) track, and one of my favorites in the album. The song starts with some nice, rock'n'roll style guitarwork, and then explodes into full metal. Matos' vocal performance is top-notch here, specially in the chorus. Speaking about the chorus, it's a little bit hard to get into it, but once you do it, you will appreciate the beauty of this song.
3. Lisbon (5.0/5.0) - Following the powerful Petrified Eyes comes Lisbon, which is a beautiful powerballad. A short keyboard introduction leads the way to some heavy guitars, which kick-off the song. Once again, Matos' performance is delightful. The chorus is highly repetitive, as it's usually the style with power-ballads.
4. Metal Icarus (5.0/5.0) - A distorted guitar slowly fades in and ultimately explodes into Metal Icarus, which is a very powerful shred fest. The band's performance is amazing here: the drumming, the guiatwork, the vocals... everything is top-notch. One thing I love about this song is that the distorted guitar that fades in at the start of the song keeps going on throughout the song. Without a doubt, the best song on the album.
5. Paradise (3.5/5.0) - After the excellent Metal Icarus comes Paradise, which is a slow yet powerful piece. The song itself is not bad, featuring some amazing guitarwork. This song reminds me a lot of Helloween's Mr. Ego in that both are long, slow songs with boring choruses. Anyway, if you liked Mr. Ego, you may like this song.
6. Mystery Machine (4.5/5.0) - Another classical Angra song. It's very powerful and has a very nice melody. My only complaint is that for some reason, Matos' voice seems to be a bit low in the mix. This is undoubtely due to production issues and is not the band's fault, but it can be annoying some times.
7. Fireworks (4.5/5.0) - The title track is a beautiful power ballad with a contagious melody. It took me a little while to get into this song, but now I like it a lot. The breakdown after the chorus is very good, with some amazing guitarwork.
8. Extreme Dream (5.0/5.0) - Another favorite of mine. Extreme Dream is a very bombastic song, featuring an excellent performance by Matos', as usual. Just like Fireworks, it took me some time to get into this song. Believe me, it grows on you.
9. Gentle Change (5.0/5.0) - This track is the "experiment" I was talking about, and maybe the only track in Fireworks that could've fit into Holy Land. Gentle Change opens with some folk-like drums that have a very disctinctive Latinamerican feeling to them. The track at first seems out of place in the album, but once you get to the chorus, it explodes into full-metal. The breakdown after the chorus takes the track back to its folk start, and then comes a beautiful change to classical music, and then follows the mandatory guitar solo. A very good track.
10. Speed (5.0/5.0) - Another metal-fest. What more can I say? Once again, very powerful and bombastic. The track surely is "speedy", but not as speedy as the name would suggest.
11. Rainy Nights (4.5/5.0) - The bonus track, Rainy Nights, is a beautiful power ballad. For some reason this song makes me feel cool and refreshed. Matos' performance here is very good, progressively rising his voice as the song goes on until a very orgasmic climax a little bit past halfway the song. The only thing that keeps this song from a perfect score is the fact that after this drool-worthy climax, the song becomes a little-bit dull. Otherwise, a perfect finale for the album.
Summing it up, Fireworks is a damn-good album. The best from Angra's old-lineup, and IMO much better than the Rebirth album. Even though new vocalist Edu Falaschi is good, he just cannot hold his own against Matos. If you like Matos' voice as much as I, you should definitively check out Shaman, which is Mato's new band. Lastly, I would like to say that Fireworks is an album that grows on you. On your first listen it may seem like average, but give it a fair chance. Believe me, it grows on you.