Visions Of Atlantis – “A Symphonic Journey To Remember” CD / DVD / Blu-Ray (Napalm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
With founder drummer Thomas Caser saving the VoA ship from running aground back in 2013, the new crew have settled into their positions over the course of two full length releases and an EP. Thus, after a total of seven studio albums, the all-important live release has been looming, long in the mind of Caser I’m sure, but poised to ensure the timing was just right. Well, headlining last year’s Bang Your Head Festival couldn’t have presented a more enticing opportunity and anxious to pull out all the stops to make this performance one to remember, the band were supported by the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague for the very first time onstage! The ultimate proving ground for Caser and VoA, “A Symphonic Journey To Remember” showcases 17 of the band’s best tracks taken not just from their recent releases but confidently reaches into their past to evidence the solid capability of this new line up, and not in the least, the male / female vocal duet of Michele Guaitoli and Clémentine Delauney. Wisely commencing proceedings on more familiar ground, the pumping ecstasy of ‘The Deep And The Dark’ immediately gets the Balingen faithful singing along to Delauney’s sultry soul while the orchestrals add their delicate passion and dramatic atmosphere as Guaitoli takes hold of the crowd to get it chanting immediately. Shifting right back to 2004’s “Cast Away” album, ‘Lost’ pumps in its catchy, energetic synth groove led by Guaitoli’s manly tones and backed by Delauney’s exquisite soprano wails as the song gets progressively heavier, the crowd respond with encouraging roars of support, building toward the symphonic climax but more importantly, the heartfelt connection between them and the band. Returning back to the now, ‘A Journey To Remember’, from last year’s “Wanderers” album sees Christian Douscha’s guitar work take prominence through plenty of fast riffing backed by cellos adding both weight and drama in leading up to the moving chorus topped off beautifully by the emotionally soothing vocals of Guaitoli and Delauney. Staying in recent times, ‘The Grand Illusion’ rocks and roars through its soaring guitars and orchestrals, and in between getting the crowd chanting repeatedly, Guaitoli and Delauney deliver their vocal majesty, both individually and in unison like they’re on fire while in perfect choreography to all the instruments – wow! Again venturing into history on ‘Passing Dead End’ from 2007’s “Trinity”, the energy doesn’t lower and the singing Balingen crowd show their appreciation as Guaitoli and Delauney deliver more vocal passion along to serene strings before the crowd roar out the song’s title during the chorus and encouraged by the vocalists chant out even more to accompany Delauney’s wailing highs and Douscha’s solo – simply amazing. Ending in a steaming, double bass propelled ‘Return To Lemuria’, the symphonic mix of vocal eloquence and suave orchestrals is undeniable and as the power melodies hit home to the singalong chorus, they are joined by what sounds like the entire festival audience in accomplishing VoA’s goal to make this a pinnacle performance in their career. Indeed, for a band that was once heading for the rocks, VoA instead chose to come here and do the opposite in rocking the ass offa Bang Your Head!!!