Label : Napalm Records

Review by Disgraced & Tony Cannella

This year 2011 marks also the return of Austrian symphonic metal lovers Visions of Atlantis with their new album “Delta”, after their beloved, previous opus “Trinity” which dates back to 2007. Two new important changes in the line-up must be immediately noted, since they had been those most responsible for the trademarks you could recognize on “Trinity”: ex-vocalist Melissa Ferlaak (renowned for her previous experience in Aesma Daeva, now in Echoterra) and ex-guitarist Wolfgang “Wops” Koch got married and moved to the United States, not without raising polemics among fans and ex-bandmembers. Being Melissa Ferlaak one of the best opera singers adopted by heavy metal (she owns real degrees in classical studies which are pretty clear in her vocal deiverance but nonetheless she doesn’t sound like a mere opera freak stolen from the theatre) many fans were suspicious about the possible replacement, while it should be noted that Koch contributed a lot to Visions of Atlantis slight change to a more symphonic edge, leaving apart their more power-ish sides. So, in 2009 the band recruited Joanna Nieniewska (ex-Illuminata and girlfriend of one of the guys) as new vocalist but unfortunately the search wasn’t over because after few months Nieniewska had to leave due to health problems. That lead the band to the cradle of the Mediterranean Sea and classic culture, where they found the Greek singer Maxi Nil, who had previously worked with Elysion and with Moonspell as a live session member (as well as with On Thorns I Lay for a still unreleased album). Then old guitarist Werner Fiedler, who had left in 2005, came on board again and the band saw a last change when Mario Lochert replaced Michael Koren on bass in 2010. Finally the band was ready to enter the studio! And the result is now here in our hands. First of all and first thing that I think would come into everyone’s mind when listening to “Delta” is that they somehow brought back some of their power metal infleunces they had mostly on their debut “Eternal Endless Infinity”. I also think that is the most important feature we find here, since it allows the band to keep their distance from the huge cauldron of symphonic and orchestral acts out there – be it clear that the symphonic elements are all still here but in my opinion there’s an overall power metal flavour, thanks also to the perfect, crystalline production which allows you to catch also some retro feeling in the melodies. And don’t worry: although some solutions they adopted might me compared with what Nightwish did on their “Century Child” album, we aren’t in danger of embarassing “similar” moments as it happened on their debut (the band itself admitted it was hugely inspired, so to say, by the Finnish band). The album alternates catchier and heavier tracks one after the other and I must say that generally speaking the songs seem to have more personality than those on “Trinity”: first single “New Dawn” (which they also shot a video for) starts with a fast and epic approach by Maxi who is then quickly joined by her male counterpart Mario for a very catchy chorus that anyway doesn’t let the song lose its heaviness. Second song “Memento” deserves a special mention since I think it’s one of the best ones of this record: epic, fast, symphonic, with changes in tempo and atmosphere…The melodic ouverture from 4:50 on will simply make you melt down thanks to some very inspired vocal lines by the Greek! No wonder this song is among those new ones they chose to play during the latest tour together with Vexillum and the immortal Rhapsody of Fire. Also male singer Mario Plank reserves some memorable moments for himself, such as in the evocative “Conquest of Others” where he also lets out some more extreme shouts. Even though he has never been – and probably is not – an oustanding singer, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good one, which actually is. Also his English pronunciation, which many had to complain about in the past, got better and better. Guitars pla of course an important role here, driving the melodies on songs like the hard opener “Black River Delta”, “New Dawn”, “Where Daylight Fails” or “Elegy of Existence” so those fond of guitar solos won’t lack their daily bread here, as ong as they don’t expect long, highly technical heavy metal solos of course. 😉 Obviously such a record cannot miss its melodic ballad, which here takes place at number 8 with “Reflection”. Sadly I must say that “Reflection” fails in becoming the usually haunting, siren-like tune we might expect due to a too poor melody and a vocal interpretation by Maxi that falls rapidly into mediocrity. I had the pleasure to attend one of the first gigs with this line-up (minus Lochert on bass) at the 2009 Metalcamp in Tolmin, Slovenia and although the clear inexperience with the material live-wise Maxi did an oustanding job, granting new life to some songs like “Seven Seas” for example, showing she could easily handle both “normal” and classical-like vocals; so, be sure they made a good strike hiring her! Just, this song doesn’t go anywhere and leaves you quite indifferent, ending up as a filler. Final track, after the interlude “Sonar” is the epic “Gravitate towards Fatality”, which just features all the elements found before, good blended together and another, impressive demonstration of how good Mario‘s and Maxi‘s voices go together – a feature I have forgotten to say before. Only negative note is the very end of the song, which comes quite suddenly while I think such tracks need a more “fading” ending to let the listener dream along the epicness they express. I really hope Visions of Atlantis will continue on this road (perhaps regaining more and more power elements) and that they won’t be far from the scenes for a too long time now as I’m very willing to see what they’ll bring forth next. As for now, very good guys!

Rating – 73/100


It is hard to believe that it has been four years since the Austrian Symphonic Metal band Visions of Atlantis released their great “Trinity” album. Now, after some line-up changes, which have been well, documented the band return with their new singer in Greece’s Maxi Nil and their long awaited, eagerly anticipated 4th album “Delta”. Of course for fans of the band, it was sad to see Melissa Ferlaak depart the band after her awesome performance on “Trinity”, but on “Delta” Maxi Nil does a great job in making her transition seamless. “Delta” features 10-songs and 43-minutes worth of music and Visions of Atlantis’s Symphonic Metal Sound remains intact. The up-tempo, bouncy opening track “Black River Delta” starts things off and is a fine introduction for Maxi. Of course the clean vocals of Mario Plank are present as well as the two vocalist trade off, which is something that VoA has been known for. The next track “Memento” quickly became my favorite. It starts off slow, dark and moody before the tempo picks up and displays a groove running through the song that is just so damn infectious and inspiring. Also, Maxi turns in an outstanding vocal performance on this one. Her style is not as operatic as Melissa Ferlaak’s (of course comparisons are inevitable), but she can go there if needed to like on “Memento”. “New Dawn” is a fast paced track that features a great chorus that will be stuck in your head long after you’ve heard it for the first time. One of the heavier tracks is “Conquest of Others” which sees Mario handling the majority of the vocals on this one with Maxi lending support on the chorus. On the ballad “Reflection”, Maxi is given the chance to shine. Other highlights include, but are not limited to: “Twist of Fate”, “Elegy of Existence” and the closer “Gravitate towards Fatality”. I am not prepared to say I like “Delta” better than “Trinity” (my favorite VoA album) but it is certainly a worthy follow up and one that I would imagine that their fan base should be quite pleased with. After 4-albums and 3 female singers, here is hoping that Maxi Nil will stick and the band will continue to churn out great music for years to come. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have Visions of Atlantis back and with “Delta” they have made a triumphant return.

Rating – 90/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Black River Delta
  2. Memento
  3. New Dawn
  4. Where Daylight Falls
  5. Conquest of Others
  6. Twist of Fate
  7. Elegy of Existence
  8. Reflection
  9. Sonar
  10. Gravitate Towards Fatality

 

Line Up

  • Maxi Nil – Vocals
  • Mario Plank – Vocals
  • Werner Fiedler – Guitars
  • Martin Harb – Keyboards
  • Mario Lochert – Bass
  • Thomas Caser – Drums

 

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