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Going Nowhere - 57%

GuntherTheUndying, January 26th, 2013

With the auto-pilot turned off and a burning sensation to explore in their hearts, the gentlemen of Italy's Vision Divine deliver a slab of power/progressive metal somewhat in the same circle as Rhapsody of Fire, Secret Sphere, Angra, some others too. I was mainly drawn to this project because it includes vocal work from Fabio Lione of the aforementioned Rhapsody of Fire despite Vision Divine focusing a lot less on hugely explosive dynamics and more on riff-based, chorus-based anthems based on this here record. "Destination Set to Nowhere" is a listenable album; not an incredible or mesmerizing opus, but listenable, I guess. It's kind of a standard representation of power/progressive metal that at times excels at capturing a futuristic, spacey vibe. It's probably what they were aiming for as most of the record deals with space travel, epic journeys, finding a new planet to live on, and other space mumbo jumbo.

Vision Divine and "Destination Set to Nowhere" are both strictly in tune with the power/progressive metal postulate; you'll know exactly what'll happen if you have any familiarity with it at all. I really can't think of much else to say, honestly. It's just progressive/power metal doing what progressive/power metal does. The riffs are hooky and fun, and the keyboards are really involved with the overall dynamic, which is definitely cool. However, it feels like a very standard release that runs through the motions. I mean, there are legitimate songs like "The Dream Maker," utilizing driving riffs and powerhouse choruses. That's only a sizeable sample of the album, however. I think Fabio sounds better here than he does in some of his Rhapsody of Fire material. This, of course, is probably due to the remarkable differences between his projects, and there's no doubt his voice is much more of a factor here than his main band.

At times this feels more like an episode of Lost In Space that indeed focuses on being lost in space. Some of the songs feel boring and directionless from beating the universal—pun or not, I'm leaving that up to you—algorithm into stardust; it's reasonably an exhaustion of a successful foundation throughout its weaker parts. "The House of the Angels" has acceptable riffs, but it overall seems loosely constructed and flaccid; almost entirely forgettable overall. "Here We Die" starts off with a Slayer-esque riff and generally sounds like it's going to punch your face into a black hole, but they end up mucking it up with some of the rehashed ideas that, for some reason, wiggled into the song. Oh well. The closing title track does little for me as well, and it's safe to assume "Destination Set to Nowhere" loses its touch as it progresses.

Well, this one doesn't do too much for me barring a handful of stars. Vision Divine takes off, Vision Divine lands, Vision Divine leaves once more—a little rendezvous from the norm would've been nice. The only true reroute from the consistent mediocrity is Fabio Lione and his awesome vocals, but overall "Destination Set to Nowhere" says a lot of words and phrases that end up holding little meaning. Four or five songs are memorable and fun; the rest of the pie is pretty much stale. I'm not sure how this holds up to Vision Divine's other material, but I'm fairly sure this has been my first and last ride with Vision Divine.

This review was written for:

Prog/Power is best Power! - 85%

absurder21, September 22nd, 2012

Vision Divine is a progressive power metal band from Italy, fronted by Rhapsody of Fire’s Fabio Lione. The band originally started off as lead guitarist Olaf Henderson’s (Labyrinth) solo project, but eventually it was decided that they would go on as a full-fledged band instead. What we get is a mesh between the epic feel and grandeur of power metal, but with the technicality and moods of progressive metal. But while Vision Divine features high soaring vocals, power metal riffs, epic keyboards and catchy melodies, don’t expect this to be a repeat of Rhapsody’s medieval/fantasy gallivanting, in fact it’s the exact literary opposite.

As I mentioned Vision Divine certainly do dwell within the power metal category, being abundant in soaring vocals, speedy riffing and bombastic melody. They build songs around a sing-along styled choruses and there are plenty of catchy elements to hook your ear. But with the progressive elements ( mainly futuristic keyboards, zig-zagged progressive rhythms and complex guitar work) the more traditional power metal sounds are dropped, giving it a more science-fiction, modern atmosphere as opposed to the “balls to the wall” or medieval/fantasy orientated feel that a lot of power metal bands use. The handful of syncopated riffs, found at sparse points in the album, rings somewhat familiar to the djent movement, but it’s integrated well into the power metal sound and really just gives it a heavier punch. There’s also more melancholic elements added to the music by the lead guitars and more notably, the orchestral backgrounds, which are reminiscent to Dream Theater balladry, albeit executed a lot more effectively.

While the dual-lead guitars, schizophrenic riffing and proggy keyboards duke it out over atmospheric dominance, the drumming keeps the beat and little else. It definitely keeps up with the rest of the band, but it’s nearly drowned out in the more layered passages. It aids to the hammering of the thrashier, power metal riffs, but other than that it does little to stick out. The bass work is even less noticeable, but I suppose it might be adding to the thickness of the riffing that I’m not picking up on. The general composition of the album tends to revolve around heavy build ups, catchy choruses and uplifting or melancholic passages heavy in synths and keyboards. It’s not always exactly in that order but they’re generally what you come to expect. The production is squeaky clean and layered almost perfectly. Like I said the drumming and bass work is pretty thin but the vocals, guitars and synths are perfectly strewn together, with synths tastefully in the background and not overbearing to everything else.

Vision Divine really perfect that floating, futuristic atmosphere that bands like Pagan’s Mind, Manticora and Alchemist also feature heavily in their power metal. Although I only have a basic idea of the lyrical content, I would assume that this is based around some sort of epic travel through space, and the music definitely hints at that. As much as I can enjoy the more LOTR styled power metal bands, the more progressive natured bands really seems to appeal to me more on a general basis, as I really feel there’s a wider arrange of sounds and melodies (albeit, there is progressive elements thrown into the mix to help with that) that a lot of regular power metal bands ignore. There riffs are heavy and pounding, the lead guitars soar, the choruses are catchy as hell, Fabio’s vocals are epic as well as ballsy and the keyboards are atmospheric, grand and perfectly fluid among the rest of the music. I’ve always thought “prog-power is best power!”, and Vision Divine help continue that sentiment in my mind.

[Originally written as Adam Korchok for AXIS OF METAL]

Great Representation of the Genre - 93%

TheStormIRide, September 15th, 2012

Italy’s Vision Divine return with their seventh album, “Destination Set to Nowhere”, which sees the band dabbling, yet again, with conceptual science fiction and imagery. Anyone familiar with the band’s previous work will find no surprises, as this fits alongside their back catalog perfectly. Fabio Lione (of Rhapsody of Fire fame) returns for his second vocal performance after replacing Michele Luppe (who actually replaced Lione after the second album). This album shows Vision Divine on top of their game and at their catchiest.

“Destination Set to Nowhere” is a traditional power metal album at heart. There are other elements presented here, especially the progressive tendencies that Olaf Thörsen (Labyrinth) is known for, but when taken as a whole, it’s a power metal album: heavy riffing, dual guitar solos, keyboard solos, fast and powerful drumming and soaring vocals. Most tracks on this album are around the four or five minute mark, so the tracks are straight to the point and have little of the aimless wandering and overindulgent pompousness that plagues progressive music.

Vision Divine have historically written riff-centered music, and this is no exception, but there seems to be more of a concerted effort to write catchy choruses and hooks. The one-two punch of guitarists Olaf Thörsen and Federico Puleri are the absolute highlight of this album. Verse sections show fairly heavy riffing, similar to “Black Halo” era Kamelot or, at times, a faster paced later period Angel Dust while the choruses are an amazing lesson in the power of catchy riffs. The chorus sections see the guitarists simplifying the riffs, occasionally just floating power chords, while maintaining a superb catchiness that is guaranteed to make you tap your feet. The solos are fast paced and technical, reminiscent of Luca Turilli at times, with sweeping arpeggios and lightning fast scale work.

The prog influence is evident with the keyboards, performed by Alessio Lucatti . The keys rarely stop, ranging from the atmospheric, orchestral layering during verses to the piano lines during slower sections. Warmen like keyboard solos are all over the place and are expertly performed, but the most exciting sections are when the keys engage in a solo battle with the guitars a la Stratovarius. The rhythm section bolsters the traditional power metal feel with fast paced drumming and thick bass lines. The bass tends to follow the guitar lines, giving a more dynamic punch to the heavy riffs. The drums are dominantly fast paced, with a lot of double bass running and high speed rolls. The rhythm section truly shines when building off of the heavier and faster paced guitar riffing.

Fabio Lione’s vocal work is also a highlight here, but his performances have always been stellar. “Destination Set to Nowhere” shows Lione utilizing his more melodic, higher register style. If you’ve never listened to Fabio Lione’s vocals, it’s quite an experience, as his clear, melodic delivery is unrivaled. He’s a great singer, and the vocals are soaring and crystal clear, but his overly Italian accent can be a little much. Fabio’s penchant for singing the catchiest choruses on earth is evident on tracks like “The Dream Maker” and “The Ark”, as his voice fits so well with the instrumentation. Hopefully he stays with Vision Divine for a few more albums.

There really are no weak areas on this album as every song is expertly written and professionally performed. Every track has huge, soaring choruses, stellar guitar and keyboard work and catchy as hell vocal hooks. Production is stellar, crisp and clear. Every single instrument shines and is audible. The vocals are placed perfectly, being in the spotlight, without detracting from any instruments. Any fan of progressive power metal should love this, as it is possibly the best demonstration of the genre in quite some time. That being said, there’s not much here to grab the attention of any fans outside of the power prog field. Pigeonholed to the genre or not, this is a great album and deserves attention from fans of Stratovarius, Pagan’s Mind and the like.

Written for The Metal Observer