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“Delta”, the fourth full length album from Austrian symphonic power metal act, Visions of Atlantis, is their first release to feature vocalist Maxi Nil. Anyone who has followed the band to some degree knows that they have been plagued with close to as many lineup changes as Iced Earth, but somehow they continue to roll forward. “Delta” continues where the previous albums left off, showcasing melodic power metal with heaps of symphonic elements and orchestrations out the wazoo. It also shows the band toying with a more radio-friendly, gothic tinged sound, as well.
Maxi Nil is a fairly strong, mid range singer,, but she seems to be trying too hard to match the symphonic style of the band. There are some slower, less orchestrated parts that show her as a great and confident singer, but when she tries to do the Tarja tinged operatic style, it falls somewhat flat. It should also be noted that the male vocals suffer from the same syndrome: they sound good when the singer does a more hard rock / AOR approach, but when he tries a more operatic style it's extremely forced and flat. Speaking of forced and out of place, “Conquest of Others” shows two different and distinct styles of harsh vocals: one being a raspy take on metalcore and the other being a deeper, grunt style. These harsher styles pop up here and there, but thankfully aren't the norm.
The music ranges from a fast paced melodic style of power metal, similar to Dark Moor, to a slower, more gothic inspired style. While the band is competent musically, both Maxi and the male vocalist shine brighter when the music slows down and they stick a more standard delivery, like on “New Dawn”. The fast paced sections have chugging guitars riffs, double bass runs, soaring lead work and, as with everything else here, comes backed by a nonstop wall of string inspired orchestrations, shown on the album opener “Black River Delta”. The slower style has subtle melodic guitar lines twining alongside piano segments, once again backed by an onslaught of orchestrated keyboard music, but vocals shine brighter. Honestly, I don't think there's any free air space at all as the keys and orchestrations are so slathered on so thick: frankly it becomes too much by the end of the album.
Even though Visions of Atlantis is technically a power metal band, they sound best on “Delta” when slowed down to a more gothic inspired sound. Both vocalists sound more comfortable with the slower sections and it allows them to present a more emotional output. This is something that Visions of Atlantis would capitalize on their next full length album, “Ethera”, but it's only sporadic here. The music on both the fast and slower sections is good, but everything comes together much more fluidly on these slower, more radio-friendly sections.
If “Delta” did nothing else, it allowed Visions of Atlantis to begin to toy more with slower sections and begin the initial steps of phasing out their power metal leanings. While “Delta” is still a power metal album, it opened the doors for Visions of Atlantis to find a new niche, and one that would help differentiate them from the crowd a little more. “Delta” is a decent album, but it's nothing overly special. Find this if you dig female fronted metal, but you'd be better suited to pick “Ethera” first.
Written for The Metal Observer: