Reviewed: November, 2021
Released: 2021, Estetica Torta
Over the years I’ve collected quite a library of Metal books. It is a passion of mine. I’ve got tons of standard ‘rock star’ autobiographies churned out by the big publishing houses (bless them they have a place too) and I have lots of biographies of big bands like AC/DC, Metallica, Guns’ N’ Roses written by various pop-culture journalists and they are all good in their own way. Once in a while a book comes along that is really special to me and this is one of those.
ANDRE MATOS is one of my favourite singers. This is not the only reason why this book holds so much value for me. Dee Snider is also one of my favourite singers as well but when I see 20 copies of his autobiography piled up in the discount bargain bin at my local big-box retailer, it maybe doesn’t hold the same value. (Nothing against Dee Snider’s book, it’s great, but I’m just using him as an example.) It is commercial, mass appeal madness titles versus those rare and special books, written by fans, for fans, limited in number and destined to become rare and valuable to a select few.
A few years ago this book was published in Brazil in Portuguese and I immediately wrote the publisher and practically begged for an English translation. My prayers were answered and the English-speaking world now has a copy they can read. The good people at Estetica Torta Publishing sent me a hard copy; hand numbered, limited to only 300 copies (!). I’m proud to own one of the few English copies in existence. It is a gorgeous hard cover with a wonderful photograph of Matos in full-flight in concert. It also comes with a poster of the cover art and a nice book mark. There is a charming foreword by Tobias of Edguy/Avantasia as well. It is the little things that makes these smaller publications a little more special.
In case you are not familiar with the name Matos, he is one of Brazil’s best known Metal singers, if not the most well-known. His resume includes, Viper, Angra, Shaman, Symfonia and many more side-projects and guest appearances, too many to list. In 2019, Matos died suddenly and unexpectedly of natural causes at the very young age of 47.
During his life, a book about his life had been proposed and for whatever reason did not happen. After his tragic passing two fans felt that the idea was too good to let die and that he deserved a book to celebrate his life. I agree! They consulted with many people and got the blessing of the family and his life story is now available for all of us to enjoy.
The biography follows his life chronologically and his family contributed photos from when Matos was a baby. They even contributed a little bonus feature, a short story that Matos wrote when he was eight years old! He was a bit of a musical prodigy growing up in a reasonably well-off and stable family so he could afford to go to school. His natural skill meant he attended university for classical music and eventually learned several languages.
Growing up in the 80’s led to a love for soccer naturally and Hard rock and Heavy Metal. A chance circumstance involving an errant soccer ball introduced him to a few older kids and before long Matos was singing in a band called Viper! Viper was at the exact right time and place in the history of Brazil to capture the first wave of Metal. As the dictatorship had fallen and Metal had become incredibly popular, especially in no small part because of the 1985 Rock In Rio featuring Queen, Scorpions, AC/DC, Whitesnake, Ozzy and Iron Maiden.
Viper took Iron Maiden, and Queen, mushed them together and created a very early Power Metal style, not unlike Helloween did. As a side note: I think the band deserve more credit for developing the template for what we know know as modern Power Metal. Viper attained pretty massive success pretty quickly, signing to a major label, touring and so on. Matos’ professional career was well underway. The book follows his career across the ages and is accented by a discography, tons of photos and memorabilia. It is amazing how many magazine covers he was on in Brazil! There are many interviews with friends, family and band-mates to help provide a perspective on who he was. It is extremely comprehensive and the translation is seamless.
Despite having an enduring love and respect for Matos, the authors were balanced enough to say that he was at times a difficult and unique person to deal with. When things did not go his way he would withdraw and over time when bands were just at the height of their power (Viper, Angra, Shaman) he would quit, causing chaos, friction and resentment. His epic career was not without controversy the authors made it clear that they were not going to focus on the drama and rumors and try to focus on a celebration of his life and career. I feel they achieved that balance pretty admirably.
An advantage is that the book covers all aspects of his career, from birth to death and does not just focus on the ‘glory’ years. Over time I lost a bit of track of his career as he retreated from the international public eye to a small degree. He moved to Sweden, had a son and focused on his solo albums and his career in his stronghold of Brazil where he remains wildly popular. During these times he would occasionally re-appear on the international Metal scene in bands like Symfonia or being a guest with Avantasia. I learned an enormous amount about his later career and eventual reconciliations with Viper and Angra.
It is hard when an artist you enjoy and admire passes away early in life. Fortunately, he left a very commendable body of work for everyone to enjoy. Now this book serves as a wonderful documentation of this unique and talented singer whose performances and writing brought delight to Metal fans across the globe.