William Shakespeare`s Hamlet
Released: 2001, Die Hard Records
Reviewer: Thiago Martins
This project was idealized two and a half years ago by Fausto Mucin and Andre Luiz de Casto Mesquita, owners of Die Hard (a store at galeria that has become a label too). The idea was to put together some Brazilian bands and release a concept album based on Shakespeare's masterpiece "Hamlet", each band playing a song. This album would be the first release of the label that was being born back then.
But they wanted to do a great work. So they hired a young Brazilian guy called Adriano Villa to write all the lyrics. He has written 27 poems, and a guy called Alexandre Callari, drummer of a band called Delpht, also an English teacher, has translated all of them to medieval English. After this, they were given to the bands for them to compose the songs over them. In these years, some bands were invited to the project, other just step down, but finally the project is done and it is a great work. The booklet has fantastic artwork (done by Rodrigo Cruz) and the lyrics are very good. All the bands used the same studio (called Creative) and almost the same equipment, so there are no big differences in sound quality.
To give some "royal" status to the job, they hired to mix and master the album some "unknown" guys: Miro and Sascha Paeth, whose works are with some bands like Rhapsody, Angra, Kamelot, and Heavens Gate. Have you heard about them? hehehe Andre Matos (Shaman, ex-Angra) has made a special appearance singing the last song.
The album contains 19 songs, 4 of them are transition tracks. Most of these bands have released only one album, some of them don't even have a debut, just a few has more than one CD released. All the bands appear with songs that denotes their own style (I believe, since I don't know all of them), so this album can be used as a very good introduction to the current Brazilian heavy metal underground. Of course, not all of those are great songs to me. The high ranking is given due to two facts:
a) The production is perfect. There is a unity on this album, even though there are bands so distinct themselves.
b) I've following the Brazilian heavy metal scene for years, and it's great to see that now, finally, the bands are realizing that if they get united they can be more powerful and achieve better results. Until now, we had a Brazilian scene, but all the bands seemed to be competing amongst themselves. Finally, seeing this album, I can feel that this stupid mentality has changed.
Oh yeah, I've written so much that I've forgotten to talk a bit about the songs themselves on the album. I'll try to give a bit description of the style of the bands and my personal taste about them.
1) Delpht - "From Hades to Eternity". The first time I've listened this song I didn't like a lot, but it has grown on me. It is power metal like Stratovarius, which is not my cup of tea. But the chorus is huge and the rhythm section is not that never-ending double bass.
2) Santarem - "Sweet Flavour of Justice". This is a slower song, since this band is more hard-rock oriented (well, good hard rock, not that cheesy poser hair glam metal of the late 80's). The song is very good.
3) Voice Vignette - "The Happiness of the Queen". A transition track, in the vein of Queensryche's "My Empty Room". The singer is Mario Pastore, a legend in Brazil. This is nothing more than a transition track, but Mario shows he's an awesome singer
4) Hammer of the Gods - "Visions of the Beyond". One of my favorite tracks, it is a ballad in the vein of the Nevermore songs, although it's different. It's emotional yet heavy. I don't know how this band sounds in their album, but probably I'll check it out soon.
5) Flute Vignette - "Villainy". Another transition track, now Mario sings followed by a flute.
6) Krusader - "The King's Returned". This band does power metal, mixing some Gamma Ray chorus and Rhapsody orchestrations. It's a good path to follow, but this song seemed to be a bit raw yet, although it is good - it just gets a bit boring due to the repetition and the extremely high tones of the singer. This band has a good potential. Well, they haven't yet released an album, so they still have a lot to learn.
7) Nervochaos - "The Truth Appears". The fact is this is not a bad song, but it's more extreme, more brutal, in other words, it's death metal. But in the middle of power metal songs. It seems a lot out of place, and that's the only problem, since it's an aggresive part of the story, the lyrics has to do with the instrumental and the growling vocals.
8) Guitar Vignette - "The Play". Now, a guitar is played under Mario's voice. Another transition track.
9) Vers'Over - "A Letter to Ophelia". Another very good song. It starts with some choirs; the style is more intricate power metal, good instrumental, rhythm changes. I don't know how this band sounds (never heard them), but it was a good surprise. The vocals are not that high-toned stuff, it has some aggressive feeling.
10) Sagga - "Dagger of Words". Although this song starts promising some Dream Theater alike structures, little by little it becomes a Stratovarius one. So it has that fast keyboards dueling with some fast guitars, never-ending double-bass drums, high toned vocals. If you like this, maybe this is the song of the album for you. For sure, not for me. The chorus is very good, but the fast instrumental steals some of the beauty emotional feelings. There are no problems at all, I just don't like this style.
11) Imago Mortis - "Prayers in the Wind". This band plays a doom-oriented metal, and this song is truly to their style. I liked a lot, it gets perfectly the feeling of the lyrics, it is a bit aggressive, a lot emotional, a bit depressive. A great use of the keyboards.
12) Symbols - "Stormy Nights". The former band of the current Angra singer, Eduardo Falaschi. I don't know if they still exist, but this song is pretty much the style they are. Power metal, in the vein of bands like Stratovarius, Gamma Ray. I liked it a bit, unless for the fact that they repeat a lot the chorus. Man, if a chorus is good, it catches you in the first listen, but if it's repeated 90 times in the song, it gets boring. Unfortunately, a lot of bands can't see it...
13) Keyobard Vignette - "Hands of Fury". Another transition track. Mario Pastore and keyboards.
14) Hangar - "Hidden by Shadows". Hangar is a band that I never happened to like, but this song has caught me. Ok, it's fast, it's like Stratovarius, it's like a lot of bands that I can't stand. The vocals are good, the way the chorus goes is catchy. I just like it. By the way, the drummer is Aquilles Priester, now in Angra too.
15) Torture Squad - "Mandate for Freedom". This song is like a mix of Cannibal Corpse and Slayer - I think that the band sounds this way. Like Nervochaos, it seems out of place in the album, but I liked it more than the other. It's not great, though.
16) Fates Prophecy - "Trap". Well, their lead singer, Andre Boragina, has died due to linfatic cancer some days ago. On the recordings of this project, he couldn't do it, so the lead vocals were done by Sérgio Faga. But this is another of my favorite tracks, it has an old Iron Maiden/Dio feeling, it has a mid-paced rythmn. Great song, way better than a lot of stuff Maiden has been doing lately...
17) Eterna - "Goodbye my dear Ophelia". Eterna is the best brazilian band nowadays, in my opinion. They sound like a power metal Dream Theater, but their highlight is the fact that they have two awesome lead singers (and all the musicians are extremely talented). This song shows perfectly their style: lots of tempo changes, intricate style, powerful yet emotional. It's great.
18) Thuatha de Dannan - "The Last Words". This is one weird band that I happened to like very much. This is the best song of the album, in my opinion, it mix some medieval feelings, flutes with traditional heavy metal. It concludes the story, it's very emotional.
19) "To Be..." - This the "We are the World" for the Brazilian heavy metal. Or, in better words, this is like Hear'n'Aid "Stars". Everybody singer got together in this song composed by the Brazilian maestro José Luiz Ribalta. Andre Matos does some lead singer also.
Well, this is it. If you want to see what Brazilian bands's have doing lately besides the ones that have made a name out of this country, this is a great chance to listen to all of them in a great recording quality and also entertain yourself with one of the most famous and fantastic stories of all time. Congratulations to all of the people involved and I hope this marks a big change in the Brazilian metal scene and better days it brings... and another great projects like this!