Those in the scene know that it was never easy playing rock in a country where music takes tortuous paths that don’t always favor talent and artistic quality. One has to be strong to continue active and more so to release quality material at a time when the music market treats music as something expendable that ends up being available, legal or illegally, to people who, as a general rule, will pay little attention to it.
In other words, to survive in a scene such as this one has to be strong. Stronger than ever, just like the title of heavy metal five-piece band Hangar’s newest album. “After everything we went through and after almost having imploded, that is how we feel,” explains drummer Aquiles Priester, one of the most well known and respected names in the music scene.
The album cover, one of the most impressive the band has ever created, brings the head of a stuffed animal that seems to come back to life, reinforcing this concept and substantiating that we are about to listen to a heavy metal album.
“Stronger Than Ever” began with a surprise: due to the famous musical differences, guitarist Eduardo Martinez, in the band since the year 2000, decided to leave the band. Thus, Hangar, who had recently rehired their first guitarist Cristiano Wortmann, again counted with only one guitarist which made the band feel they were back in the early days when, as Aquiles says, “we did music for music itself, without thinking about anything else.”
Cristiano’s return brought a new characteristic to the sound of the band, since his solos, as Aquiles defines, “are genuine songs within the compositions” – but naturally without detracting from the work of the five-piece, that continues excelling as to heaviness, speed and technique. Singer Pedro Campos, who makes his debut in a complete Hangar album, shows all of his versatility alternating melodic and aggressive vocals, and even some guttural passages, executed by Cristiano Wortmann, something that Hangar began exploring in the compilation “The Best Of 15 Years – Based On A True Story” (2014).
The keyboard, that Aquiles defines as “an increment in the band, as it connects the guitar and bass/drums to the voice”, is still distinct and conducts various themes. Hangar’s drum and bass requires no introduction as the good rapport between Aquiles and Nando Mello exists since 1999 and only gets better with the passage of time.
Weight is the key word in “Stronger Than Ever”. At least three tracks, “The Revenant”, “Beauty In Disrepair” and “The Hangar Of Hannibal”, received lower tuning that intensifies the aggressiveness they transmit. At the same time we have themes such as “We Keep Running The Course” and the ballad “Just Like Heaven”, in which the beautiful vocal lines stand out – the lyrics and melodies are again signed by Aquiles who also produced the album.
The album was mixed and mastered in Finland by two of the most renowned professionals of the field: it was mixed by Jesse Vainio (Apocalyptika, Lordi, Thunderstone), and mastered by Svante Forsbäck (Rammstein, Michael Monroe, Apocalyptika, Lindemann). This guaranteed a sound quality rarely seen or heard in an album of a Brazilian heavy metal band. Recorded in three different studios (Rush Recording Studios, in Bebedouro/SP, Phantom Studio Recording Art, in Novo Hamburgo/RS, and Laguna Home Studio, in Mococa/SP), the files of the album where finalized by Heros Trench at Mr. Som studio before the mix.
Aquiles and Cristiano are responsible for all of the compositions, a big part of them in partnership with other musicians of the band, such as Nando Mello and Fábio Laguna, and Martinez left one last song for Hangar, the opening track “Reality Is A Prison”, that he cosigns with the rest of the band members.
The repertoire brings some details – sometimes subtle, other times not so much – in which it is possible to see that Hangar’s musical spectrum is not limited at all. This is substantiated by the creative arrangement of “A Letter From 1997”, both in relation to the vocals as to the instrumental as well as the totally prog passages in “Beauty In Disrepair”.
The ballad “Just Like Heaven” that closes the album received a second version, an acoustic one. This track, that counts with the special participation of Luiz Fernando Venturelli on the cello, was reinterpreted especially for those fans that the band captivated with the album “Acoustic, But Plugged In!” (2011), that conquered new markets and a more comprehensive public for the band.
Besides the outstanding cover, the insert also received special attention. Under the direction of Patrícia Priester and João Duarte, all of the artwork remits to the concept “stronger than ever” besides being different from everything the band has already done in this sense while still maintaining good taste – after all, a quality product begins with the packaging.
“Stronger Than Ever” is an album that showcases all of the aspects of the group, with a flawless repertoire and impeccable quality. And proves, above all else, that Hangar remains firm in its trajectory, stronger than ever.