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Austrian act Visions of Atlantis have been lurking around since their debut in 2000, putting out albums on a relatively consistent basis. No stranger to lineup changes, Visions of Atlantis has been through three previous singers before meeting up with Maxi Nil for the last album and their newest EP “Maria Magdalena”. Generally labeled as a power metal band with symphonic and melodic leanings, with “Maria Magdalena” Visions of Atlantis have broken free from the power metal mold and released something quite different altogether.
“Maria Magdalena” shows Visions of Atlantis steering towards more a more gothic based symphonic metal style, leaving behind mostly all traces of the melodic power metal that was heard on the first two albums, “Eternal Endless Infinity” and “Cast Away”. Everything on this album screams gothic pop metal a la Lacuna Coil. The instrumentation is simplistic, letting the vocals take the lead.
The guitars, bass and drums are all relatively watered down. The guitars chug along during the verses and throw down some simple power chords during the choruses. Occasional extrapolated licks fly in and then leave you wondering if you actually heard it or not. The drums range from a poppy, hard rock style to a pretty decent groove style akin to Vinnie Paul to a standard run on the double bass power metal style. The keyboards and orchestration are simplistic as well, even though Visions of Atlantis are a symphonic band. The simple orchestral arrangements float behind the rest of the instruments, creating an atmospheric wall of sound that rarely relents through this entire release.
Vocally, Visions of Atlantis is like every other symphonic gothic power metal band ever to grace the earth. This means there is a female singer and a male singer. The female vocals are professionally performed, with a strong mid-range delivery, coming across as a less operatic Epica or a slightly less pop oriented Lacuna Coil. The male vocals, while performed well, are nothing special. The male vocals sound like a cross between Dave Grohl and Lacuna Coil’s male vocalist, but he does change it up with a few mallcore tough guy shouts here and there. The vocals, while performed well, are very generic and border on cheesy at times.
“Maria Magdalena” almost seems like a spit release, as there are two distinctive sets of styles on display here. Visions of Atlantis go from the symphonic gothic metal style with the heavier guitars and pounding drums and then switch to a softer, almost pop rock style. I believe this is to showcase the keyboards and orchestrations, because no other instruments are playing during these sections. But even during these sections, the orchestration is still very simplistic. The tracks, by themselves, are pretty decent, but as a whole it becomes really repetitive, an amazing feat for a release that clocks in under the thirty minute mark. I know there are only six tracks, and one of those is a cover song (“Maria Magdalena” is a Sandra cover), but it becomes monotonous and difficult to listen to the entire way through.
This is a half decent release, but it is no engaging enough to garner a huge audience. “Maria Magdalena” shows Visions of Atlantis playing symphonic metal that sounds like just about every other symphonic metal release. Relatively cheesy vocals and simplistic symphonic music permeate this release. Recommended to symphonic fans, for obvious reasons, but if you don’t like orchestral backed metal then stay away.