|Musical Style: Power/Progressive Metal||Produced By: Allan Wallace & Junior Oliveira|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: Brazil|
|Year Released: 2012||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 41:49|
Here’s a what if for you: Let’s say you take a foundation of epic and symphonic power metal and fuse it with some neo-classical, progressive and speed metal overtones- sort of like the best aspects of Theocracy, Narnia, Golden Resurrection and HB rolled into one. Would anyone step up to that counter?
No doubt this reviewer would be the first to volunteer! Those who also happen to be fans of the previously referenced bands - and corresponding styles therein - would do themselves a favor by checking out Spiritual Battle, the independently released 2012 full length debut from Belo Horizonte, Brazil based Allos. The group proves one of the few “diamonds” in what has been at times a “rough” Brazilian Christian metal scene, but to their credit they manage to sidestep many of the pitfalls plaguing the region in terms of shaky production, even shakier vocals and at times mixed songwriting.
One of the standout qualities to Spiritual Battle is its consistency in that it presents with no skip buttons or filler tracks. Rather, you will encounter eight full length pieces and two short instrumentals in which Allos artfully traverses power and progressive metal territory but some variety thrown in.
If interested in a classy power metal sound then look no further than “Mirror Of Deep Waters” (standing out with its symphonic elements) and “Power Of Choice” (characterized by its epic penchant). These two cannot help but bring to mind Theocracy.
“Journey” reflects some Narnia-like progressiveness (without coming across contrived in the process) while “The Hero” and “Spiritual Battle” are speed metal laced barn burners standing out with catchy chorus hooks and neo-classical leanings (sort of like the faster Golden Resurrection material).
Allos can also slow the tempo on the more semi-ballad feel of “Everlasting Love” and “My Spirit”. HB deserves mention, and not just for the use of keyboards and classical instrumentation, but also due to the former featuring some soprano (almost operatic) female vocals that hint of Johanna Aaltonen. The latter, in contrast, highlight rich baritone backing vocals.
The lone constructive comment is that Spiritual Battle is a bit ballad heavy (3 out of the 8 full length pieces are semi-ballads when factoring that there is also a Portuguese version of “Everlasting Love” entitled “Eterno Presente”). Perhaps the group could have given us another power/progressive metal number instead and relegated “Eterno Presente” to bonus track status.
It also must be noted how Spiritual Battle takes a bit of time in order to grow on you: nine to ten listens being my experience. Not that there is reason to fault this, but the fact is with “The Hero” and “Spiritual Battle” being the lone exceptions, the material here does not bring immediately recognizable melodies that might pull you in at once. In no way does this mean the songs here are any less laudable (the quality being that each track is able to stand part from the rest), but rather that a bit of patience is due.
Vocalist Celso Alves represents one of the standout qualities to Allos. The guy, to put it bluntly, is a top of the line talent and not just from the standpoint of the Brazilian metal scene but the metal scene overall regardless of classification or genre. Some have compared him to Edu Falaschi (Angra) - and rightly so! - but I hear some Lance King elements in his delivery as well in that he can go for a high note with ease but can also touch upon some lower register grit. Either way, we have an exciting new vocal talents whom I see being a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Musicianship, as a matter of fact, is an overall strength. I particularly enjoy the symphonic qualities to keyboardist Wilmer Richard (who also knows when to add some well timed piano), but it is guitarist Junior Oliveira that stands out. At this point it must be noted how Allos displays a deft instrumental touch in which the two display their abilities, such as on “Mirror Of Deep Waters” with its lead guitar and keyboard duel. The albums title track and “Power Of Choice” feature some ripping soloing as well. Helping to round out the Allos sound are the previously referenced soprano female vocals of Fernanda Ohara, who appears on several tracks.
Allos has gotten off to quite the laudable start on Spiritual Battle, a worthwhile debut characterized by strengths in the areas of lead vocals, production and songwriting. If anything, I cannot help but get excited for the future of this group when factoring in the talent at hand. I am looking forward to hearing more from Allos!
Track By Track
“Mirror Of Deep Waters” represents a good indicator of the Allos sound, with its joining of orchestral elements, symphonic keyboards and turbulent guitars. Chorus is succinct but euphoniously done while a pointed lead guitar and keyboard duel carry the instrumental moments. I am somewhat reminded of Theocracy here.
“Power Of Choice” moves at the more forthright tempo. You will find some variances here, including some over-the-top epic leanings joined with neo-classical overtures (particularly for the extended instrumental interlude) baritone backing vocals (that help lend an operatic feel) and a double bass driven chorus (which adds to the swiftly moving scene). Again, Theocracy fans will delight. Lyric snippet:
The wind blows in many directions
We can’t let ourselves be carried away
We’ve the power of choice in our hands
In the sword is the fate of the soul
Guardians of heaven and Earth
Awake us from the illusion
Lord, come to vanish the darkness
The light of truth will guide us
“Journey” takes a progressive heading. The song starts instrumentally to a calm melding of acoustic guitars and classical instrumentation. After a minute, however, staunch guitars kick in and turn the song into a full born rocker in which some of the albums heavier moments occur. The only let up in tempo is the presence of occasional soprano female vocals.
A semi-ballad approach is taken on “Everlasting Love”. Ethereal and majestic, the song starts to more female vocals with piano and voila decorating the backdrop. When Alves takes over on vocals, impetus picks up as things slowly drift forward until a flowing chorus interwoven with an intent rhythm guitar is obtained. HB cannot help but come to mind. Lyric snippet:
Everlasting love involves my being
In Your horizon I will rest
Lead my walking to the restful waters
Live in my heart
Softly the breeze comes and touches my soul
I breathe the airs of a dream
In the wings of the Most High, my shelter
The endless daybreak shines in my eyes
An unrelenting tempo can be found on “The Hero”. This one almost approaches speed metal territory with its powering double bass and spirited riffing but can also gives rise to some neo-classical touches. Chorus proves quite catchy with its accessible hook driven components. Golden Resurrection is the first name that comes to mind.
“My Spirit” hints of “Everlasting Love” with its semi-ballad feel. The song opens its first two minutes to a still combination of acoustic guitars and classical instrumentation. At just the moment you think the entire length of “My Spirit” to be mellow, momentum abruptly picks up to staunch guitars and baritone backing vocals to set heavier tone, albeit with periodic calmer moments in which keyboards and orchestration appears. Lyric snippet:
I am the tree of Life
Harvest the fruit of my Spirit and get the eternal life
When He looks at you, my Father will see us like one
And because I live you shall also live
A servant is not great than his lord
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you
In the world you will have tribulations
But I’ve overcome the world
Things close to the albums satisfying speed metal laced title track. Similar to “The Hero” this one brings big hooks galore and the same unrelenting tempo that makes the faster material from Golden Resurrection so special. Adding to the mercurial scene are more classically done keyboards and a stretch of fitting fast fingered lead guitar. Topping things off is a piano driven passage at the halfway point that brings to mind Kerry Livgren’s “Ground Zero” (off his 1980 solo release Seeds Of Change). Lyric snippet:
Soldiers of the Almighty Lord
We’ll see the sunrise and the glory of God
Do the best under the Lord’s command that’s above death and life
Spiritual Battle! Don’t be afraid and fight!
Spiritual Battle! The victory is coming for you!
Perseverance and faith overflow the soul
They fortify the spirit
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Unknown World” (:42), “Mirror Of Deep Waters” (4:30), “Power Of Choice” (4:59), “Journey” (5:17), “Everlasting Love” (5:26), “The Hero” (4:39), “My Spirit” (4:22), “Eterno Presente” (5:26), “Spiritual Battle” (5:41)
Celso Alves - Vocals
Junior Oliveira - Guitars
Edley Winderson - Bass
Wilmer Richard - Keyboards
Wallace Ryan - Drums
Fernanda Ohara - Vocals