Shaman hail from Brazil and formed after most of the founding members left Brazilian prog/power band Angra
around 2000. Not to be confused, of course, with the Finnish band Shaman, which would eventually essentially morph into Korpiklaani
. They released their demo and their first two studio albums under the alternate spelling Shaaman, over legal troubles with evidently yet another band named Shaman. Their most recent two CDs - this one and 2007's Immortal
- were released after somehow settling out that it was okay to have multiple bands with the same name, and with drummer Ricard Confessori as the only remaining founding member.
The CD opens promisingly enough with the instrumental "Origins (The Day I Died)," with the sounds of a man running through the woods and hearing various tribal/shamanistic chants and flute. This leads smoothly into the first real track, "Lethal Awakening," which evokes Sonata Arctica
with furious guitars and keyboards. "Inferno Veil" leans a little more toward the progressive side with a heavy groove feel instead of the breakneck pace. "Ego Pt 1" brings back the folky, shamanistic feel with string swells, flute, and tribal percussion rather than a drum kit, while "Ego Pt 2" comes back to the breakneck power metal. The remainder of the tracks mostly fit this pattern as well; a good point of reference for the album is a mix of "Winterhearts Guild" Sonata Arctica
and "Awake" or "Images and Words" Dream Theater
Except, of course, for the final track "S.S.D. (Signed, Sealed, and Delivered)," which just has a confusing construction. The first 3:30 or so of the song is an acoustic ballad, leading into sound of rain and howling wind. This transitions into a keyboard melody for the last minute that sounds like the intro to another song, or at least to another part of the same song, but comes up short as the keyboard detunes and then the wind and rain fade out. I checked, and it's not supposed to provide a smooth loop back to the beginning of the CD, so I have no idea what happened here. Maybe they had a melody they hadn't been able to work into the album anywhere else but didn't want it hanging over their heads when the next writing session began.
The problem with this album is that as prog and power go, it's not that powerful. Sure, there are some great riffs and grooves, and there's plenty of instrumental acrobatics for shred fans to geek out over, but it never feels like it reaches its full potential. The worst offense is that vocalist Thiago Bianchi doesn't have a particularly strong voice at the upper end of his range. The parts that aim for soaring and epic often just fall flat, to the detriment of the rest of the CD.
In all, Origins is a CD that I should like a lot better than I do, but nitpicks like the vocals and a whimper of a closing track pull it down from what it could be.