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Formed in August 2000, Visions Of Atlantis are an Austrian symphonic power metal band who use the legend of Atlantis for inspiration for their majestic music. Trinity is the band’s third full-length release and was mastered at the famous Finnvox studios where Nightwish, Children Of Bodom and Sentenced have also worked. The album art was created by Anthony Clarksson who has designed art for Blind Guardian. All in all, this sounds rather promising for a power metal band.
Trinity can best be described as a hybrid of Nightwish, Edenbridge and Evanescence. Although the album has a majestic feel, and indeed the opening track ‘At The Back Of Beyond’ begins with a lovely characteristic symphonic introduction, Trinity fails to achieve anything original or fresh, but works solely to pay homage to its influences. Often, the male and female duets that appear on tracks like ‘’My Dark Side Home’ and ‘Wing-Shaped Heart’ are done in the exact same style as Evanescence.
It does not help that male vocalist Mario Plank sounds very similar to the male vocalist in Evanescence. The band would be far more beneficial if these male vocals were omitted completely as they fail to help the music and just divert attention away from the better parts of the music. The female vocalist, Melissa Ferlaak who used to be in operatic metal band Aesma Daeva, is new to the lineup and her operatic voice, although they resembles Tarja Turunen from Nightwish, is excellent and corroborates the music efficiently. They are at their best on the touching track ‘Return To You’.
The guitars do a fair job but they really shine on ‘Through My Eyes’, resonating a typical Finnish power metal sound. This is definitely a breath of fresh air on this album. The keyboards are proficient at creating wonderful soundscapes that coerces the listener to think of the magical world of Atlantis as well as giving the music better cohesion overall.
This album is a listenable album but I feel the band have wasted their talent, which they certainly do have. Rather than acting like a tribute band they should act upon this talent and do something imaginative and new. There is no way this band would be able to put out something better than Nightwish or Edenbridge by simply copying their style.
Originally written for www.rockbeast.co.uk
Many things have happened to Visions of Atlantis during the last three or four years: the release of one of the most controversial metal albums of all time, "Cast Away" (I think it's good, but a lot of people completely disliked the new symphonic-metal idea that the album offered), the departure of their female vocalist Nicole Bogner (finally they got rid of her lack of experience) and the announcement about the new female vocalist's identity: the highly-talented and experienced Aesma Daeva's former singer Melissa Ferlaak. More than one must have been surprised about this, maybe because Melissa was already a very prominent singer of the genre.
Of course, it also meant that a new album was coming soon. This was confirmed some time later: yes, a new album was going to be released, and its name would be "Trinity". When the day of the release finally arrived, I think that a very big number of people doubted about buying the album, probably because of Cast Away's remaining portents. But I acquired it recently (it took me months to find it in this city), and when I first listened to it, I almost passed out. I said: "This can't be Visions of Atlantis. Or, at least, it can't be the old Visions of Atlantis".
The album is completely different from what the band has released before. It's not only the new female singer, it's the entire music! The band changed from the "sweet" symphonic metal style they played back on their early days to something more mature, more powerful, and more symphonic. "Trinity" was the album that made the difference and that cleared the gray skies that followed the band after "Cast Away".
For many people, the orchestra may look like "repetitive" through the album. For me, it's not like that. Every song is different from the others, and only the references to the seas and oceans unify them. Because of that, it can't be talked about a chronology or a concept.
Eleven songs, most of them as good as the best symphonic metal songs of all time, appear in the album. But their order is peculiar: seemingly they are randomly listed, but if we pay attention we can notice that the speed of the album goes from top to bottom and vice versa very often and surprisingly harmoniously.
Of course, "Trinity" is not a complete departure from the old Visions of Atlantis. The vocals are still equally shared, this time between Mario and Melissa, except for a couple of songs where Melissa sings entirely alone.
There are may outstanding songs due to its quality and style, and they are: "At The Back of Beyond" (the first song of the album, powerful and very symphonic, an excellent beginning), "The Secret" (one of the two songs whose lyrics were written by Melissa; this one is an excellent song with a good appearance of the orchestra), "The Poem" (a beautiful slow and symphonic ballad, the longest song of the album), "Return To You" (the other song written by Melissa, a sad ballad, and the slowest song of the album), "Through My Eyes" (if you want something that you're used to, forget it with this song: the verses are performed by both vocalists, and the chorus is leaded by Melissa and backed by Mario; the vocal order is completely inverted) and "Seven Seas" (the best song of the album indeed, one of the closest songs to perfection that I've ever heard).
Conclusion: The album is excellent, too much better than the other two albums, musically and spiritually. But maybe this is the last album with this wonderful sound, because the "Curse of Female-Fronted Bands of 2007" (that had already reached Tristania and Sirenia) also reached Visions of Atlantis: Melissa and Wolfgang (the other then-new member of the band and Melissa's boyfriend) are not part of the band anymore. How sad.
While this is certainly far more melodic (even dare I say it, commercially-oriented) than my usual listening fare, it is far from bad. This Austrian band are good at crafting clever and melodic songs with lots of good vocal melodies and some good catchy choruses and that is no crime. While they do rely far too much on keyboards for melodies, which often end up sounding very similar, and the songs tend to get stuck in a similar uptempo rut--hence the less than perfect rating--there still is lots to like here.
Most notably American vocalist Melissa Ferlaak, who if the adverts are anything to go by is definitely Napalm Records' focal point in their usual fashion. But DAMN, is this woman a talent! After listening to the first couple songs on here all I could say was "Tuomas, what were you thinking!" as it became crystal clear that Melissa blows Annette Olzon out of the water. Her statuesque beauty (and she is gorgeous, make no mistake) is easily matched by her stunning pipes--think Tarja Turunen minus the accent and amped up a few notches. Melissa dominates every song with her amazing vocals and when she goes for those high notes, not only are they effortless but they go right through you. This woman needs to be heard!
Mario is a competent vocalist in comparison, his raspy yet melodic style contrasting hers without resorting to death growls, and he is passionate and eager in his delivery. Which makes up for some of his vocal parts not being as imaginative as Melissa's. His smoother vocals on the beautiful ballad, "The Poem", come as a surprise as he sounds like a totally different singer and it makes me enjoy the song all the more. The choir that pops up at the end not only comes as a surprise but really enhances the feeling of the song and Melissa hits some extremely high notes in those parts that are amazing to hear.
Musically, the band is skilled if not a little faceless in comparison to all this vocal talent on display. Solos are short and sweet with just the right amount of technical skill, the drummer doesn't rely on double bass all the time--in fact, his playing is very rock oriented with tasteful flurries of double kick here and there--and the bassist anchors things as tight as a drumhead. And this is an immaculately produced album, too, with a perfect mix where everyone gets room to shine. While this would be classified as "symphonic metal", I'd say it's more accurate to call this just melodic heavy metal musically. This is not entirely a bad thing, mind you.
For good songs, "In The Back of Beyond" is a great opener and "The Poem" is heartfelt and doesn't seem gratuitous at all, and Melissa's showcase, "Return to You" will raise a tear or three with her soft and loving delivery.
Overall, while some will slag this as too commercial and polished and as Nightwish wannabes, I would not go as far. For one thing, this is not as obnoxiously mainstream as NIghtwish's current direction is, and Melissa is far too talented a singer to be lumped in with the likes of Amy Lee. What's more, I do believe this band are actually opening for Nightwish on their current US tour, and if this is so, Tuomas will see the error of his ways in more ways than one when Melissa blows Annette off the stage every single night. Check this out for a nice take on what Nightwish could've been, I suggest.