“This is a dense album of experience and accumulated pain”…

These aren’t my words, but the words of Angra leading light Rafael Bittencourt, speaking of the band’s new outing, Cycles of Pain. He speaks from the heart, having lost both his own father and long-time compadre Andre Matos (the band’s first lead vocalist) since the last time we enountered the band with the release of 2018’s Ømni.

That said – and there are moments of darkness and introspection to reflect on throughout the album – there’s something defiantly optimistic, not to say uplifting, about the opening track here, Ride Into The Storm, that speaks to just how well the band has emerged on the other side of their most onerous travails to flourish and prosper. It’s a piece of fast-paced, classic Angra – the power rather than the prog – and, in a tick over six minutes of heads down, triumphantly over the top bombast, it lets the listener know that Camp Angra is actually in pretty rude health.

Vocalist Fabio Lione is not least amongst the reasons for this happy state of affairs; some of his vocals on CoP are quite sublime; On the aggressive Dead Man On Display he runs through his full range without missing a beat, giving real depth to a song that might otherwise have been ‘just’ another Angra headbanger. Elsewhere his duet with Amanda Somerville on subdued closer Tears of Blood shows the man’s other side, but whatever mood he’s charged with portraying he pulls off a bravura performance throughout.

Vida Seca, with a guest vocal from Brazilian legend Lenine, will keep those who thirst for Angra’s Brazilian heritage to shine through nicely slaked, and if this tale of a mixture of all Angra’s usual facets sounds a bit ‘business as usual’ then why not? Business is generally pretty good for this band, and Cycles of Pain is a very fine affirmation of that fact.

Cycles of Pain releases on November 3rd.