By Todd Naevestad
I love getting to write about Visions of Atlantis. It’s basically carte blanche for me to make as many bad sailing puns as I want in a piece. If that doesn’t just put the wind in your sails, I don’t know what will. Now, band line up changes can sometimes be cause for mutiny, but I say we don’t have them walking the plank just yet. Their new album, Wanderers, is a chance to see if the new crew keep sailing toward treasure or if they shipwreck on the rocks.
Last time around with this band, I very well slobbered all over the album. It was exactly the kind of thing I was into and I still listen to The Deep and the Dark on a regular basis. So while my stance is pretty well established, that also means that they have a lot to live up to. As is expected, the leading voice of Clementine Delauney is as excellent as one would come to expect from this band. I always enjoy the blend of classical and power that she brings to her performance. The intensity needed in some songs transitions easily into the softer melodies of some of the ballads. Delauney is definitely more at the front of the album’s sound this time. That may be partly to do with Michele Guaitoli being a new addition to the band. Replacing previous male vocalist, Sigfried Samer, of Dragony fame, Guaitoli brings a different feel to the vocals, a little more like fine sandpaper as opposed to Samer’s silky smooth. It’s a nice change of pace, and while my personal preference is Samer’s style, I definitely regard Guaitoli’s addition as excellent. It’s really a matter of what brand of quality artist you are in favor of. My assumption would be that Guaitoli is still getting his groove in the new band so Delauney did most of the pronounced vocal work on the album. In general, everything works together for a light, airy sound that permeates the whole album. Even on the slower, more somber songs, there is a general sense of good fortune that makes this a pleasant album to listen to.
I think it’s worth noting that this album came out only a year and a half after their previous album, and as previously noted, included a line-up change. This was something that I couldn’t stop thinking about while listening, and I at least, think it shows. The album isn’t as creatively dynamic as the previous one. The pacing curve for every song is very similar. They each tend to start in a similar degree of excitement, rise and fall in a similar pattern, and end in roughly the same level of strength. It doesn’t necessarily lend cohesion to the album, more like a sameness. In a similar fashion, I think it suffers from Single-itus, where the singles they’ve released are really the best songs on the album and all the rest have trouble living up to that. I really enjoy “Nothing Lasts Forever” in their well tested ballad style, and “A Journey to Remember” is engaging, but on a thirteen album release, that’s not a great percentage. There are maybe three other songs that are really memorable for me, but the rest feel like filler. This is what I mean when talking about the album turn around time. The Deep and the Dark was a really polished, creatively rich album. The time they took to make it feels like it shows more. Wanderers is good, enjoyable even, but it feels safe. It lacks the range of styles that others have had and feels less like a high seas adventure, which they’ve managed to capture so well in the past. Ironic really, given the title.
I’m a fan of Visions of Atlantis. I can admit that with pride and I still enjoy this album. It’s the kind of thing I can turn on at any time and enjoy to some extent. But as a fan, I also want to see the best from them. Even if it’s not “as good” as previous works, I want to see new and creative attempts from the band. Wanderers really isn’t that. It’s acceptable, safe, with some high moments. I recommend listening to it if you’re a fan of Power Metal, high seas adventure, or the band as a whole. But I don’t think that this will be the album to really worm its way into your heart.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommendations: Paddy and the Rats, Rumahoy, The Dark Element