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Visions of Atlantis - The Deep & The Dark

Visions of Atlantis
The Deep & The Dark
by Jon Conant at 13 March 2018, 1:04 AM

VISIONS OF ATLANTIS is a symphonic metal band that has excited me since their 2011 release, “Delta.” That being said, two things always held me back. One, the terrible vocals from Maxi Nil and Mario Plank. I hate to be that negative, but they were objectively terrible. Like, made-the-band-borderline-unlistenable terrible. So when they both were replaced by Sigfried Samer and Clémentine Delauney respectively, I was very excited and hopeful for future VISIONS OF ATLANTIS releases. I already knew to expect excellence from Delauney due to her previous work with SERENITY, and for Samer, there was nowhere to go but up from the mess that was Plank’s vocals.

The second thing that held me back: the production. It was never up to par, the instrumentals and the vocals could never mesh properly. So, what was the upside to VISIONS OF ATLANTIS? Simply put, the songwriting. They always managed to find a rock solid power symphonic metal sound that was anchored by catchy-as-hell melodies. The vocals and production just needed to catch up.

So what was the result in their 6th full length release since 2002, “The Deep & The Dark?” Well, as expected, the vocals were markedly better. Delauney is an absolute delight as always, she truly has a future in the genre. Samer anchored in perfectly as well, though I was disappointed by his limited (or not as noticeable) role on the album. The production as well was MUCH better this time around for the band, and they finally settled into a sound that sounds smooth and well-produced.

But, VISIONS OF ATLANTIS just can’t seem to to climb the mountaintop, they can’t seem to take that final step. Because this time around, while the vocals and production were rock solid, the songwriting took a HUGE hit. Now, I will be fair: my negativity comes from my bias. I had HUGE expectations for this album, and they were not met, which is a very personal opinion/taste. But for my money, the melodies were significantly less engaging, the guitar work was much less interesting, and the songs that were catchy were derivative of their earlier works.  This is a damn shame. I wish we could take Delauney and Samer, as well as the improved production, and apply it to “Delta.” That’s the perfect blend of excellence I was expecting/hoping to get from this album, but we don’t.

Opener “The Deep & The Dark” is the best song on the album, which is unsurprising in something that is so obviously an underachievement in writing. It had the strongest chorus, driven by a power metal/thrash riff that is reminiscent of NIGHTWISH, with a gorgeous bridge that is powerful, melodic, symphonic, dark, and foreboding before transitioning into an excellent solo. Dear god I wish more of the songs on the album could have sounded this good, but they don’t.

A deceptive start, to be sure. After the opener, the album falls into chaos. Track 2 “Return to Lemuria” is a misplaced folk power ballad that sounds like it should be track 7 in a XANDRIA album, not track 2 in a VISONS OF ATLANTIS album. It’s generic, boring, and was horribly misplaced. Thank god for the strong vocals from Samer sweeping in to save the day and provide some much needed texture (Delauney is of course solid as well). The chorus was fairly catchy, but really only when compared to the rest of the song. This theme carries through the album, misplaced tracks, no thematic transitions. The album feels like it was sewn together from multiple themes and concepts floating around with no mutual direction. It’s almost like a symphonic metal mixtape.

By the 4th track the album is honestly a lost cause. “The Silent Mutiny” sounds like it was straight out of previous efforts, and does nothing to elevate their sound and style, and instead provides the feeling that you’ve heard the song before. Never a good sign. Token album balled “The Last Home” was the final nail in my having hope for this album. I HATE obligatory tracks, art should be inspired, not forced. But that’s just my two cents. Track 8 “Dead Reckoning” was another reasonably solid number to accompany the locked in excellence of the opener, but that about does it for me. By the time the mishap of a closer “Prayer To The Lost” begins, I’ve lost all hope for the album, and I’m ready for it to end.

Look, does this album deserve all the shit I just gave it? Maybe not. When listened to without much prior knowledge of VISIONS OF ATLANTIS, it maybe sounds half decent. But this band has existed since 2002 (granted only one founding member remains), has been through many lineup changes, and now has a veteran presence with two new amazing singers. This album should have been a tour-de-force to highlight their new talent, but it completely falls flat. That being said, the band shows no signs of slowing down. I excitedly await a 7th full length release, and hopefully in 3-4 years VISIONS OF ATLANTIS is able to take that big leap forward I had hoped for on this album.

Songwriting: 5
Originality: 5
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Deep & the Dark
2. Return to Lemuria
3. Ritual Night
4. The Silent Mutiny
5. Book of Nature
6. The Last Home
7. The Grand Illusion
8. Dead Reckoning
9. Words of War
10. Prayer to the Lost

Lineup:
Clémentine Delauney - Vocals
Siegfried Samer - Vocals
Christian Douscha - Guitars
Herbert Glos - Bass
Thomas Caser - Drums
Record Label: Napalm Records
     


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Edited 24 June 2018
 

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