CD Reviews

Visions Of Atlantis - 'Delta' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 16, 2011    
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Fans of Visions Of Atlantis will without a doubt enjoy this album.

Visions Of Atlantis were formed back in 2000 coming out of the metal scene from Austria. The idea behind the band was to explore the many myths and stories surrounding the legendary lost world of Atlantis. After an initial demo in 2000, their first album "Eternal Endless Infinity" came out less than a year later and received plenty of positive critique. After touring with the likes of Lacuna Coil and Nightwish, and the first of many line up changes including the key addition of Mario Plank, the band set to work on their second album.

This was released in 2004 and was entitled "Cast Away" under new record label Napalm Records. After further tours of both Europe and USA in 05 and 06, their third album aptly titled "Trinity" was issued in May 07. In the following years there was yet more line up changes including singer Melissa Ferlaak leaving. This prompted the search for the third female vocalist in four albums. She was replaced after a lengthy search by Greek singer Maxi Nil, formerly of Moonspell and Elysium. 

The line up was cemented with Nil (vocals), Plank (vocals), Werner Fiedler (guitars), Mario Lochert (bass), Martin Harb (keys) and Thomas Caser (drums). Despite these many line up changes since their inception, Vision Of Atlantis are recognised as turning out consistently good material. At the end of 2010 the band went into the studios in Germany to record their fourth and latest entry "Delta" on Napalm Records.

There is without doubt plenty of variety on offer with this album. Both its opening track "Black River Delta" and the closer "Gravitate To Fatality" are good examples of the overall range of music on offer in between. They portray a bit of aggression in the guitar and Plank's growling vocals, lots of grandeur and epicness in the orchestral arrangements, screeching solos, sailing heavenly vocals from Nil and that familiar double drum beat in sections. This is what VOA are all about. But this does not stop them from exploring each of these sounds a little more in-depth in some of the other songs. "Conquest Of Others" shows VOA at their most aggressive and hostile, even using digital effects on Plank's voice to add to the imposing sound. At the other end of the spectrum "New Dawn" offers an almost pop rock take on the traditional VOA sound. The band also plants a marker in the melodic rock arena with the delicious "Twist Of Fate", a song that musically would not look out of place on any Bob Catley or Gary Hughes release.

The only ballad on the album "Reflection" is a truly haunting and eerie number that very much allows new singer Nil to open up her range and give the fans a view of what she can do. Visions Of Atlantis seem to know their scene and attempt to explore their trade mark sound further in this release.

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This is over a pretty good symphonic/operatic metal album but it does leave the listener with the feeling it could have been so much more. The songs are well composed musically and wonderfully written lyrically. The new singer Maxi Nil clearly has some range and talent, as does Plank and the rest of the band as musicians. But it would seem it is at the production stage that the album lets itself down somewhat. On a quick first listen it may not seem much of an issue, overall the mixing and arrangements sound fine. But on further playbacks it becomes clear that the keys and orchestral arrangements very much take precedent over other parts of the music in several places. This seems to particularly true of the some of the guitar work and chorus vocals. 

Given Nil sings more of the chorus lines, she seem to suffer the most and sometimes seems to fade to the background when the songs are at their peak. Nil clearly has the voice and is given prominence in some tracks, but in others her voice seems subdued by the size of the arrangements n keys. The same can be said of some of the guitar work. There are a couple of intense tracks where the attention is focused on them but not in the majority of the album. Given VOA have been labelled by some incorrectly as a Nightwish clone before, this could very much be a conscious decision. By concentrating their sound on the composition side they do carve out a more unique place in the genre along with the acknowledged difference of having equal male and female vocals. By cranking up the guitar and female singing, and giving them more prominence, VOA and it producers would risk giving more ammunition to those critics that lazily label them as such a clone.

But that one issue aside, there is still plenty to enjoy on this record. As mentioned above despite several line up changes VOA have consistently churned out good music and albums. There is nothing wrong with consistency when a band is at the top of its game/genre, but when it is considered consistently good there is a need to improve to become consistently great. This album shows some more improvement from earlier releases and the band still finding their sound and place, but does not push them to the next level. Fans of Visions Of Atlantis will without a doubt enjoy this album, as will anyone else who has purchased at least one of their previous offerings. A good percentage of symphonic fans will also enjoy this latest entry from VOA, but those that prefer a more guitar/vocal driven sound akin to Nightwish or Leaves Eyes might find this album lacking the punch they prefer. If this album was a boxer it would be one capable of taking most fighters to a close points decision either way, but is never going to knock out an opponent to the canvas or floor.

Dave Scott

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