Visions of Atlantis - Delta

Napalm Records
Produced by Mario Lochert & Jan Vacik

It sure hasn't been an easy road for Austria's Visions of Atlantis. In the band's relatively short career (they've been going since 2000) they've struggled to keep a steady line up, changing singer at least every two years since '05 due to other commitments, marriage (taking a guitarist with her), or health problems. All these shenanigans have left the band unable to make an album for nearly four years, but finally the band are able to return with their fourth album, Delta.

New singer Maxi Nil seems to have fit in well on her first album, providing a suitably calm and soothing voice to accompany the band's sound. Like fellow Austrians Edenbridge, Visions of Atlantis's music dwells on the much more melodic side of female fronted symphonic power metal. Though employing a female/male vocal dynamic so common with bands of this nature, Visions of Atlantis are unusual in that male vocalist Mario Plank doesn't go for the death metal growl approach. Instead his approach is more in tune with other symphonic power metal bands, influenced more by the likes of Kamelot's Roy Khan and Symphony X's Russell Allen.

If Mario can come close to the standards of such singers though (and to be honest, nobody is expecting him to), then it won't be on Delta. Despite both Maxi and Mario being highly capable singers and performing well on this album (Maxi in particular holding up very well against both her predecessors and peers), their performances do seem unusually low-key. Strangely for a female-fronted metal band, outside of the album's softer moments the vocals are relatively low in the mix. This works well for the album – the focus is not on the individuals, but on the band and music as a whole.

This would be a terrible thing if Visions of Atlantis did not have the music and the songs to carry the album, but thankfully this isn't the case. Delta has all of the hallmarks of a quality symphonic power metal album. There's the grand epics (Memento, closing track Gravitate Towards Fatality), obvious single candidates (first single New Dawn, Where Daylight Falls, Twist of Fate), the ballad (Reflection), and everything in between, all delivered with thorough emotion. There might not be the huge production values one expects from the likes of Nightwish, Therion or even the new Turisas, but with the production that the band have they make no missteps. Visions of Atlantis more than prove their capacity as song writers and melody makers on Delta, and more than anything else that should be a reason to investigate the album.

What could be off-putting for some metal fans is that this album does feel somewhat gentle when compared to other power metal records. It certainly lacks the hardened edge to sit alongside the likes of Epica or After Forever; and whilst musically this has everything in common with male vocal-dominated power metal – fast rhythms and guitar licks a plenty - the production, as well as Maxi's softer tone makes the band feel oddly soft. There are heavier moments on the album – such as the Mario-driven Conquest of Others – but in general it feels lighter than its peers. Again, this is a commonality they share with fellow countrymen Edenbridge – whilst both are distinctive, they both make beautiful symphonic metal that is sometimes somewhat light-weight. As a result, despite a high quality of music, one can't help but feel it won't be enough to push the band out of the female-fronted metal ghetto that so many similar acts seem to fall into, and into the general metal 'mainstream'.

That being said, whilst Delta is a light and melodic power metal record, that's exactly what you should be expecting from Visions of Atlantis. Its laid back vision and musically optimistic sound will deter the more glum metal fan, but for those wanting a solid female fronted metal album in a similar vein to Edenbridge, Epica or Atargatis, this should prove to be the perfect record for the Spring. A thoroughly enjoyable album and welcome return.

“ prove their capacity as song writers ”

Tracklist: Black River Delta / Memento / New Dawn / Where Daylight Fails / Conquest of Others / Twist of Fate / Existence / Reflection / Sonar / Gravitate Towards Fatality

Photo(s): Toni Härkönen | www.toniharkonen.com

Written by James Donovan
More: 2011, Albums, Female-fronted, Symphonic,

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