without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Granted, this is the sort of stuff I would normally avoid like the plague. I don't make it a point to download albums that I know I'll loathe; but man is that cover art cool- a somewhat inviting wave with a barrel section and maybe a ramp for an air, all with some nice fantasy-ish tropical settings and backdrop. I'm one who's easily sucked in by superficial aspects of an album or band, whether it's the band name, album name or an interesting band photo- so despite the triple redundancy in the album title, I honestly thought this could be pretty epic. Curse my inherent shallowness!
Well, to be honest the music's not quite as awful as I expected- the instruments aren't out there reinventing the flower metal wheel but it's certainly more interesting and varied then, say, Nightwish. There's actually a bunch of tempo changes throughout most songs, the keyboards and guitars tend towards polyphony more often that not, things are relatively dynamic- certainly when the guitars and bass cut out for some keyboard/drum interplay in "Seduced Like Magic" I was pretty surprised. Hell, despite the sheer suckiness of the electronic blippery at the start of "Eclipse" there's some sort of integrity there.
So the instruments are ok; certainly not amazing in any sense but relatively tolerable- simple and effective power metal that's really predictable and cheesy but could certainly be a lot worse. As with most bands of this ilk, it's the vocals that really shit on any chance of this being good. The female ones are bad, powerless operatic vocals that sound more like someone gasping for air than anything else- but hey, they're no worse than Tarja's.
It's the male vocals- equally powerless, very nasal, far too earnest, the interplay of the two singers, and the sum of that that makes this as godawful as it is. "Lovebearing Storm" is the first proper song and will be a good enough example to those looking for what's wrong with this band. First, it's ripping off a classical song of some kind (or it might even be the Tetris theme? seriously, check the end of the verses), and second, well, it sucks. A quick listen will confirm that, and what else needs to be said? Do I need to say anything after "the sky is blue"? No, because it's obvious to all but the colour blind. The mind-blowing badness of the vocals will be similarly obvious to all who have a degree of hearing.
It seems these guys have went through a few vocalists over the years; perhaps their later stuff is better- it may be, because the music underlying the vocals, while hardly amazing, does show a glimmer of potential. These guys could be a generic power metal band instead of a bad generic power metal band if they tried enough, I'm sure. Anyway, this album: in short, don't waste your time with this. I'm not entirely sure why I did, either; I should've just downloaded the cover art and left it at that.
Before starting the actual review, I must say some very important things, to all who dont know this album and band, and why not to those who do. First, Visions Of Atlantis play symphonic power metal, not gothic, as I see them labelled often as such, at least at last.fm and in some reviews; secondly, they are not Nightwish copycats, rip-offs or whatnot. This is simply untrue. Power metal is a very limited genre, and the most predilectional for kitsch of all the metal subgenres. Even gothic metal cannot beat that kitsch factor so outrageously thriving and plaguing power metal, mostly the ''epic'' kind. Nightwish is considered as the unreachable ideal in symphonic power metal. This sounds just like an urban legend. This album will dissuade you. If not, you may be deaf, or close-minded anyway. The best students are those who surpass the teacher. With that in mind, let me start the review.
I loved Nightwish, but they released Once, which made me loathe them deeply. Dark Passion Play made me loathe them even deeper, as Tarja left them. Visions Of Atlantis started to show very often in my recommendations, but I kept dismissing them, until one day, something clicked in my head and I decided to give them a try. What ensued was a breath of fresh air, in which was thriving my disregard of power metal. So, I must thank Visions of Atlantis for having restored my faith in this genre.
Fortunately, I got this album first and not Cast Away. Cast Away is a good album, but this one is just more complex and more mature, and why not less catchy and commercionnal. The pointless intro bursts into Lovebearing Storm, one of the best songs of the band. The keyboard intro is pure beauty, welcoming us and inviting us to pay full attention to pleasant surprises yet to come. I confess that it made me love this band. Indeed, the sound of those keys evokes some longing, it is atmospheric and the melody it plays is beautiful. The music suits perfectly the name of the band. Of all the instruments, the keys have the most important role. They create the atmosphere, that of dreams, fantasy, fairytales, and of course distant seas and oceans, something like a world of untouched beauty beneath the sea. It is calm, soothing, atmospheric, albeit the pace is predominantly very fast. Guitars are, dare I say, discrete. From time to time, a beautiful solo emerges, but usually, riffs provide rhythm, supporting keys and giving the necessary heaviness. Even the production is geared towards a such effect. While not bad, the guitars are put to the background except in solos. Drums are what they should be. Althoug mostly hyperfast, they dont muffle other instruments nor the vocals. They suit the music perfectly, never keeping the same pace through a song, but changing often, playing interesting and driving patterns and breaks. Indeed, while keys create the atmospiere, drums drive the music. The bass follows the guitar riffs and adds to the heaviness and depth.
Vocal duties on this album are shared by two singers. Male vocals are sung by Christian Stanni and female by Nicole Bogner. While male vocals are not exceptional, they are good, emotional and dont have that power metal ''someone-ripped-my-balls'' styled falsetto/scream. But, what takes this album a level above is Nicole Bogner. Her mezzosoprano vocals make the music shine. Her voice is thick, rich and expressive. Her vocal lines flow with ease with the music. Never seeming restrained, but natural, once full of longing, then switching to a melancholic tone, the emotions from the lyrics are transferred very well through the vocal performance of Nicole and Christian, as well. From Lovebearing Storm to Atlantis, Farewell, she displays her talent and skill, as many vocal lines she sings are complex and technichal, but never sounding cold and distant, but always emotional and passionate. The most beautiful parts are in Lovebearing Storm, especially the ending section starting with ''a different kind of morning...'', in Mermaid's Wintertale ''Would anybody ever care for me...'' and the beginning and ending chant of The quest and Atlantis, Farewell. I once wrote Nicole Bogner is the archetype of the siren, and I still deem it. Something I'd call a trademark of Visions of Atlantis is the interplay between their singers. They often have a conversation, and complement and harmonize with each other beautifully when they sing at the same time.
The lyrics tell the tale of two lovers, a man and a siren. The story is a bit loose, but the lyrics are very beautiful and poetic, having depth and composure. What I'd like to point out about their lyrics is that they have a personal, intimate value, which means that every listener could identify with the characters in the songs. This adds some warmth and a feeling of closeness, and enhances the musical enjoyment greatly. This is another trademark of the band and they maintained this practice to their latest album.
If there is a flaw about this album, it would be the muffled production, but I would not call this a flaw, as the production benefits and enhances the listening experience this album provides and suits its musical ideas perfectly.
If someone would like to start with this band I'd recommend this album over both Cast Away and Trinity. Maybe the listener will even be disapointed by the latter two, hah, but this shouldn't happen! This album is their most cohesive work to date, even later albums have better production and/or technicality. The listening experience this album gives is yet to be surpassed. Maybe this is due to their instable line-up. Time shall tell. Who knows?
Finally, a few spins will be needed to trully appreciate this album, as songs tend to blend into one at first listens. Afterwards, you will notice they are all different and that every song has its own personnality. Just sit down, relax, unleash your romantic and soft side and this album will captivate and take you into its submarine world with its tender, warm and passionate beauty.
I've heard a lot of debut albums, specially from the greatest bands of metal (Nightwish, Therion, Aesma Daeva, Dimmu Borgir, After Forever, etc.), and I must admit it: this debut album is one of the best of all time, sharing the throne with Lunatica's "Atlantis".
Differently from other bands, that make experimental debut albums, Visions of Atlantis showed its real style since the beginning, in a way the next album, "Cast Away", could never reach. Musically and lyrically, only "Trinity" can be honorably compared to this album.
"Eternal Endless Infinity" is close to perfection wherever it's looked from. The cover art, showing an amazing sunset on a beautiful beach, it's... magic. Beauty in its pure form.
Now, let's talk about the music. The album includes 10 songs, each one completely different from the other ones. A balance of orchestral music and electronic-like sounds never seen until the release of the album is also featured. The lyrics are written in an old-modern English language, making the album even more interesting (maybe because many of the best songs of symphonic metal are written in the same language, structure and style). Also, Nicole's voice really shined with this album. Those days were like a dream, a golden dream that has shattered twice during the history of the band (once with the release of "Cast Away", and the other one with the surprising departure of Melissa Ferlaak before the crucial Trinity US tour with Kamelot).
Most of the songs are outstanding, but the ones I personally recommend are "Lovebearing Storm", "Mermaid's Wintertale", "Atlantis, Farewell..." and, of course, the best and the longest song of the album, "Eclipse".
"Eternal Endless Infinity" could become true thanks to the talent of Master Chris Kamper, who had Mario Plank's place in the band back then. I think Chris' voice and Mario's voice are pretty similar and very talented. Also, they're both excellent composers. However, all good things someday come to an end, this case it ended with Chris' departure. This particular departure is regrettable until today, and it drastically changed Visions of Atlantis: Nicole's voice didn't harmonize with the band anymore, and the lyrics became simpler. And if you don't believe me, just listen to "Cast Away".
Conclusion: "Eternal Endless Infinity" is an excellent album. It fulfilled its duties as a debut album, and it also fulfilled another task that wasn't originally planned: the one of becoming one of the best debut albums ever released.
After viewing all the negative reviews that "Eternal Endless Infinity" got around the net, I was very skeptical about buying it. However, since Visions of Atlantis were labeled as ‘Nightwish clones’ and I like Nightwish; I decided to give them a shot. After listening to it once, I agreed with most of the reviews. Although after three or four listens, I realized how amazing and underrated this album really is.
Even though Visions of Atlantis are slightly similar to Nightwish and Edenbridge, they’re not the same clones that a lot claim them to be. First of all, Nightwish started added symphonic elements to their music on "Century Child", which was released on the same year this was. Before that, they played operatic metal (which isn’t what Visions of Atlantis play). There are, however, unavoidable similarities between them and Edenbridge. Personally, I cannot stand Edenbridge and I like Visions of Atlantis. Nicole is way better and has a wider vocal range than Sabine. So, Visions of Atlantis are slightly similar to Edenbridge, yet it doesn’t mean that you’ll like them if you enjoy Edenbridge’s music. My case is the other way round; I despise Edenbridge and enjoy Visions of Atlantis’ music.
Let’s move on to the music; it is melodic power metal. It’s very fast-paced (most of the time) and it’s heavier than Nightwish or Edenbridge. Keyboards (which are flawless) play a very big part of the music. The drum work is also amazing (I never really care for drumming, but it really stands out here). Overall, the music has a very ocean-like feel to it, which makes it perfect for the band’s name and the artwork (which, by the way, is one of the best I’ve ever seen).
Even though the music is flawless, I wouldn’t have given this album a rating higher than 70 if it wasn’t for the amazing Nicole Bogner. Her soprano vocals are very similar and equally great to Tarja Turunen’s. In fact, on "Atlantis Farewell", Nicole chants a mermaid tune that makes me doubt whether Tarja can even pull it off. Besides Nicole, there is also Christian Stani; the male vocalist. He plays as big a part of the songs as Nicole (given that most of the tracks are duets). His vocals are a million times better than the ones present on their latest offering; "Cast Away". On "Seduced Like Magic", Christian’s voice stands out a lot.
The lyrics of "Eternal Endless Infinity" revolve around a tale similar to Disney’s "The Little Mermaid" (it’s not as girly, don’t worry). However, they’re not as straight-forward as they might sound. In fact, I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I would label them as poetic. My favorite lyrics are on "Atlantis Farewell"; where the girl is leaving Atlantis and her thoughts and actions are shown (you probably figured that out in the song title).
The album contains 10 tracks. None of the tracks sound the same, yet there are obvious similarities between each one (otherwise that would make the album pretty inconsistent). From the first listen, only 3 songs will catch your interest; "Lovebearing Storm", "Mermaid’s Wintertale" and "Lords of the Sea". However, the others will sound equally amazing after a few spins. My personal favorite track is "Atlantis Farewell". It’s a beautiful track which shows the beauty in Nicole’s voice. It’s been among my top 25 songs for a long time now. "Lovebearing Storm" and "The Quest" are also album highlights. Seriously, every track is perfect.
In conclusion, "Eternal Endless Infinity" is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. It’s an underrated masterpiece. Ignore all the negative reviews around the net; it’s much better than they say it is. All it needs is a few extra spins, that’s all. I’d also suggest their latest album "Cast Away". However, it’s not as perfect as this is.
"Fare thee well, my sweet Atlantis
For our paths will cross again
This goodbye now will not last
And the day of my return
Is so sure as it can be"