At this point in my reviewing career, I’ve learned to expect a lot from Brazilian bands. Before starting reviews a couple years ago, Sepultura was probably the only Brazilian band I could quickly name, but since then, I’ve come to hear bands like Skin Culture, Doomsday Hymn, and now Maestah, all of which have their own niche in the metal sound and have brought a lot of talent to their genres.
Maestah hails from Curitiba in the state of Parana in southern part of Brazil and has only been a band in its current state for a couple of years. Originally, Eduardo Pieczarka and Lucas Santana were together in the band Twilight of Time, who released The Pilgrim ep in 2010. Somewhere along the line, those two added Celso Freyn on vocals who is known for being the vocalist in Stauros, Diego Maciel, and Marlon Roberto (Jarlisson Jaty of Doomsday Hymn has filled in on drums for shows since Marlon left). Historically, some of these songs may have been taking shape for a couple of years as the band has a video for one version of “The Pilgrim” on their YouTube channel that was recorded in 2012, that is a bit different than the album version. The album was recorded at Silent Music Studios in Curitiba and was produced by Karim Serri of Doomsday Hymn, which is another Brazilian band to check out.
Maestah roars into life, wasting no time to bring the metal on the album. “The Pilgrim,” which appears to be one of their older tunes begins with a fast guitar riff punctuated by some staccato drums sounding a bit like gunfire from there the keyboards come in and the song actually picks up speed from settling into a groove. Despite the band being from Brazil, the vocals are in English and the song describes the journey of the “pilgrim” trying to find his way and realizing he needs Christ. The vocals are interesting as Celso’s voice is familiar and yet unique. In this song, I’m thinking I hear a more muscular, rougher Dio aspect to his sound. On first exposure to the band, one notes the prog feel to the music, complete with a funky bass solo part, bringing to mind bands like Dream Theater.
As if to make sure the prog metal label sticks, the next two songs on the album are both nearer to eight minutes long than they are to seven. “The Desert of Soul” starts out with some piano and remains fairly quiet throughout the beginning and much of the verse sections that feature some great guitar work by Lucas Santana accompanying the vocals. Interestingly and/or perhaps expected in a long prog metal song, there is a darker shift that is fairly reminiscent of “Sweating Bullets” by Megadeth for a bit until an extended guitar solo begins. “Sands of Time” also begins quietly, but that quickly changes into a cool metal riff as the keyboards take the band toward an almost symphonic feel. I like in these songs how the band has been able to arrange things to keep the listener off guard. Just when you think you know where a song is heading, there is a seemless transition to a different direction.
“Shelter”, “Little Shining Star”, and “Mia Piccola Stela” could be considered almost like power ballads on the album but consistent with the rest of the songs on the album, each features some really strong guitar work that adds a unique element. The guitars throughout the album have a slightly rough almost dirty tone that really adds to the emotion on the album. Kudos to the production work to capture this aspect as some prog albums are almost too polished and clean sounding that they lose some of the emotion from the performers. “Little Shining Star” is a song from a parent to a lost child, which some will relate to and others not. In general, the song has a feel similar to Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” but carries with it far more emotional weight. “Mia Piccola Stela” is “Little Shining Star” but in Italian and I would argue has even more emotional weight to it as some wording and phrases likely did not translate perfectly to English.
“City of Destruction” has a cool, ominous sounding guitar opening that is supported nicely by some almost operatic female singing in the background until Celso comes in with a scream that sends the song into a different direction led by a funky metal guitar riff sounding a bit like something from Helmet. From there the song takes several twists and turns all the way to ending piano.
Wearing their beliefs on their sleeves, Maestah have released an impressive debut album. Prog elements abound and the arrangements often lead the listener into unexpected territory. The overall sound at times is very guitar driven with strong vocals, while at other times the keyboard elements take center stage and through it all the rhythm section provides a solid backbone.
Written by John Jackson
01. The Pilgrim
02. The Desert of Soul
03. Sands of Time
05. Angels Cry for Me
06. City of Destruction
07. Gate of Damnation
08. Little Shining Star
09. Mia Piccola Stela
Celso de Freyn – Vocals and backing vocals
Diego Maciel – Keyboards
Eduardo Pieczarka – Bass, backing vocals
Lucas Santana – Guitars
Marlon Roberto – Drums
Record Label: Independent, March 2015
Video below: Album Teaser
Portuguese lyric video for ‘The Desert of Soul’
Video below for ‘The Pilgrim’