Auras – New Generation (2010, Frontiers Records)
- Beauty Of Dreams
- Forgive And Forget
- Never Give Up
- In My Arms
- Reach Out
- New Generation
- Forever In Your Eyes
- Hungry Hearts
- That’s The Way Love Goes
- Keep On Loving You
- Out Of Love
- Love To Survive
Gui Oliver – Lead Vocals
Ferpa Lacerda – Guitars & Background Vocals
Edu Sallum – Drums & Percussion
Matheus Brandon – Guitars & Background Vocals
Hemerson Vieira – Bass
Producers: Dennis Ward & Auras
Total Time = 55:22
Auras is a Melodic Rock band from Brazil formed in 2007 with a style/influence from AOR masters like Journey, Survivor, The Storm, Richard Marx and Toto and the lesser known Surrender. Most Brazilian bands that I listen to (Angra, Shaman, Sepultura, and Pleasure Maker) are more Hard Rock or Metal oriented so I was surprised to hear this ’80s AOR sound full of saoring vocals, big harmonies, piano/keyboards and melodic guitar. Lead singer Gui Oliver has a voice very similar to former Journey frontmen Steve Perry and Steve Augeri (also from Tall Stories) as well as The Storm’s Kevin Chalfant. I actually pulled out a few Journey and The Storm CDs to compare the vocals just like I did when Journey hired Arnel Pineda a couple of years ago. It’s obvious that Oliver has a solid voice with good range and that he will be the main focal point in comparing Auras to the older bands. The rest of the band provides top notch musicianship, especially both guitar players (Felipe Lacerda and Matheus Brandon) who have a found that niche where the guitar doesn’t overpower the keyboards. Speaking of the keyboards, I haven’t been able to find out who plays keyboards/piano on this record but they are done really well and compliment the guitars while being a prominent part of the overall sound. The lyrics are all positive and upbeat in that they are all about love, faith and hope.
Opening NEW GENERATION is the uptempo ‘Beauty Of Dreams’ that sounds like pure Journey and could fit easily on their latest album with Arnel Pineda. ‘Forgive And Forget’ is Journey-esque with a more prominent guitar and this honky-tonk style piano that finds it’s way into the middle while the opening of ‘Never Give Up’ sounds a little like the opening intro to Van Halen’s ‘Top Of The World’ but not as heavy, ‘Never Give Up’ is another song that I could easily see the latest incarnation of Journey playing. It would be an AOR album without a ballad and the piano led ‘In My Arms’ is definitely lighter worthy and one of those songs you hear at weddings! The rest of the album is more of the standard AOR/Melodic Rock uptempo fair: ‘Reach Out’ is more mid-tempo, the title track starts with a keyboard/drum intro and moves into one of the more anthemic songs on the album and ‘Forever In Your Eyes’ has a little more melodic power than ‘Reach Out’ but it still finds a mid-tempo groove. I’m halfway through the album and I haven’t heard a bad song yet, nor have I heard one that lacks perfect sound. ‘Hungry Hearts’ is the first song that the band worked on together and it also was the first one sent to various labels to see if there was any interest, I hear a lot of Survivor in ‘Hungry Hearts’ around that VITAL SIGNS era from 1984. ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’ opens with a guitar driven intro but the keyboards give it this ’80s Power Pop sound that only gets saved when the guitar kicks in and there’s not enough guitar for me. When I saw the title for ‘Keep On Lovin’ You’, I was sure that this was going to be a cover of the REO Speedwagon hit but it’s really an original that follows the rest of the album’s pattern. What makes this song stand out a little more is that the band uses a talk box on some of the guitar work to give it that Bon Jovi ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ touch. More mid-tempo Journey-sims arrive with ‘Out Of Love’ and I feel like I’ve heard it already, same with the final ‘Love To Survive’.
When I put NEW GENERATION on for the first time, I admit that I was very surprised that Auras came from Brazil because they sound like they come straight from the U.S. West Coast! After hearing the first two songs, I was convinced that I had heard them on the radio back in the early ’80 on FM radio! Of course I hadn’t heard them before but that just goes to show you that new modern AOR/Melodic Rock from around the world is taking hold and bringing people back 25-30 years back in time. I will admit that the sound is definitely dated and, after repeated listens, the songs kind of blend together and you feel like you’ve heard it all before. In keeping with the ’80s AOR style, the lyrics are completely upbeat and positive and it doesn’t offer too much variety…..it’s all about love and the band pours their hearts out. Some fans are going to get turned off by the dated sound and lyrics, maybe looking for something with a little more bite to it and less polish. I think the album is well done and the musicianship is top notch, I’ve enjoyed listening to it a lot but I’m a little thrown off with the complete Journey/Survivor worship. I think NEW GENERATION is a good album that gets the band out there initially but Auras’ career will be defined by their ability to build their own unique sound rather than following their favorite bands’ blueprints. If you like Melodic Rock, then this is for you.
‘Beauty Of Dreams’, ‘Never Give Up’, ‘New Generation’, ‘Forever In Your Eyes’