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I think that all of us, or at least many of us, remember those days back in 2007, when Visions of Atlantis released their 3rd studio album, “Trinity”. The album showed what a band can do with effort, patience and creativity: in only 5 years, the band renewed their sound from a keyboard-based power metal with little symphonic tunes, to a more mature form of symphonic power metal where the combination of solid guitar sounds and an orchestra get along with each other while keeping a place for the fantasy themes the band is well known for. But then the storm came: VoA parted ways with their most talented female singer until then (Melissa Ferlaak), and for a while the golden dream broke into pieces: maybe the band would never achieve the same quality in the future… until now. 2011 has come to prove us (or maybe just me) wrong, that Visions of Atlantis still has a long way to go, and that the only way a young band can move forward after such hard times, is to forget, forgive and bet to evolution.
In order to make their comeback to the metal scene, the band hired a new female singer, Maxi Nil. Although she is not an opera-style singer like Melissa Ferlaak, she has brought something more valuable to a young band with her: tons of experience! These 4 years, the experience and versatility of their new female singer and the brave decision of going further into symphonic metal instead of turning into pure power metal promoted the development of the band’s latest effort, “Delta”.
“Delta” is the final proof of the talent Visions of Atlantis has always had. The album itself is enough to give the band a nice place in the symphonic metal scene. The way the fantasy themes and the maturity and integrity of the sound the band has developed after 11 years of history (9 if we count only since the release of their debut album) are fused together cannot be found easily among most bands, even among those that have lasted for more than 15 or 20 years. The band has grown up, so let’s take a look on the new things VoA has to offer.
Musically, “Delta” may sound very close to its predecessor (“Trinity”) to all those who are not into symphonic metal extensively. For those who have heard more of the subgenre, “Delta” is far more complex, as the use of the orchestra becomes more and more sophisticated, even within this album alone, ranging from accompaniment only (“Black River Delta”, “Conquest of Others”, “Twist of Fate”) to those sections where the orchestra becomes the main element of the music (“Where Daylight Falls”, “Reflection”, “Gravitate Towards Fatality” and, of course, the instrumental “Sonar”). The guitars equilibrate the orchestral work and keep the main musical elements of VoA’s original sound: powerful PM solos, harsh sections and, of course, many parts where the guitar section may become too simple but it’s far from being so (“New Dawn” is the best example of this situation). The rhythm section provides most of the time the basis of the sound, failing to become prominent; if we were talking about an extreme metal subgenre, the rhythm section remaining hidden would be unforgivable, but in the case of symphonic metal, the orchestra or the keyboards can contribute and compensate largely the relative absence of a prominent bass or drums. However, we can find many interesting drums through the album, such as a few double kickings at the beginning, for example.
The vocals shall be analyzed separately from the rest of the music due to the fact that there are many new elements and resources in “Delta” that cannot be found in anything the band had released before. As it is common among female-fronted metal bands, the vocals section relies heavily on the female vocals, as they are used more prominently. However, the same way it was shown in “Trinity” but in a more developed way, the male vocals also play a key role here, and they are used often one after another or together. In the song “New Dawn”, even a little growling can be heard, making us wonder how VoA would sound like if they were used more frequently.
The lyrics follow the same trend Visions of Atlantis is well-known for: fantasy themes told with dramatic colors and a delicate equilibrium between quiet moments and more intense peaks. However, the band moved on to reflect more mature lyrics, using the imagination of the listener to create the fantasy worlds that are described through the album, making it difficult to find explicit references to these imaginary places in the lyrics.
Conclusion: Visions of Atlantis has returned to the music scene with a jewel, a product of their effort and dedication, nurturing their innate talent as it keeps on growing stronger. “Delta” is a new step of the band, their best achievement so far, and probably the best album of the first half of its year. In one word: majestic!