Visions of Atlantis – “The Deep & The Dark” (Napalm Records)
Man, talk about a band rising from the ashes! Rising since their formation at the turn of the century, this Austrian symphonic metal band very nearly came to an end following the tragic death of their first singer Nicole Bogner in 2012, and just a year later the departure of all members of the group with the exception of founder drummer Thomas Caser. Since then Caser has steadily rebuilt Visions of Atlantis, bringing back former bandmates before recruiting in the new blood, something which has continued right up to this 7th album – arriving some 8 years after “Ethera”, which incidentally was dedicated to the aforementioned Bogner. Since one of the reasons cited by the former members’ was the desire to return to Visions of Atlantis classic sound, then “The Deep & The Dark” most definitely fulfils that purpose – and brilliantly at that! With an absolute soprano star in Clémentine Delauney whose delicate ethereal highs match her male counterpart Siegfried Samer’s own soulfulness, the 10 excellent tracks on this album resonate passion, emotional intensity and most of all, energetic well delivered performances across the board. What immediately jumps out are the massive hooks and the incredible catchiness of the material, be through the heart grabbing dual vocals, Christian Douscha’s dexterous guitar work that delivers constantly through flowing melodies, ballsy riffing and soul stealing solos – not forgetting Herbert Glos’s slapping bass. Backed by even more catchy melodic keys and blissful orchestrals, the band have made no secret of this album not just returning them to their roots (including Atlantean theme) but actually being definitive of what symphonic metal should be about! Well, listening to the songs, I’d most definitely agree!! Right from the racy title track opener with Delauney’s suave vocals setting the emotional tempo culminating in the massively catchy chorus contrasted by bombastic choirs and Douscha’s guitar flying all over the place to the even more memorable ‘Return To Lemuria’, a power metal lite number with Caser’s double bass drums adding the highs to the flowing melodies and singalong chorus – excellent. Bringing in the darkness with heavy orchestrals and heavier riffs on ‘The Grand Illusion’, the dramatism brought out by the energy of all the instruments and vocals is breathtaking so yes, the composing and arrangements of this new Visions of Atlantis are indeed astounding on “The Deep & The Dark”. If the place called Atlantis once fell, then I’m truly grateful that the same fate has not befallen this remarkable band who, against all odds have made an incredible comeback.