Visions Of Atlantis

Maria Magdalena EP

Written by: TL on 29/03/2012 14:35:07

You know you must have done something right in your career as a band, if there are countless bands around the continent who mold themselves shamelessly in your image. Just ask Nightwish, who are the likely cause of the existence of the many, many similar female-fronted symph-metal bands that have been in contest for the European metal listener's attention in the past 10 years. One of the veteran contestants are Austria's Visions Of Atlantis, who have been around in one form or another since 2000, yet after four LP releases their first ever EP - released last fall under the title "Maria Magdalena" - sees drummer Thomas Caser as the only remaining member of the band's original line-up.

At least that's as far as I've been able to get researching the band online, as "Maria Magdalena" - the first record by the band that I have listened to by the way - but then I guess what matters more to most of you more so than the band's complex line-up history, is how good the record is and what it sounds like. To answer the last question first; "Maria Magdalena" casts VoA as a relatively conservative symphonic power metal outfit, whose main point of distinction is that they employ both male and female clean singers - provided respectively since 2009 by Maxi Nil and since 2003 by Mario Plank - instead of the more common clean female/harsh male combo of bands like Deadlock and Leaves' Eyes.

Strictly musically speaking, the EP is a solid production that shies away from being too cookie-cut and mainstream in both sound and composition, rather relying on more traditional power-metal aesthetics meaning that the listener is in for a soundscape anchored in relatively heavy dozes of distorted guitar and bass and highlighted by somewhat pompous, theatrical keyboard as well as sampled/emulated (I'm guessing) horns and chimes and bells and whatnot. And as opposed to the many similar bands, the word 'classical' comes to mind quicker than ones such as 'goth' or 'fantasy', the trappings of which seem to otherwise be omnipresent in the genre.

As for the songs and their quality, I must say that I am however not quite ready to join the choir of critics quoted on the band's facebook profile, heralding the band as one likely to soon step up among the ranks of genre heavy weights such as Nightwish and Within Temptation. For that, I don't think the sound has quite enough personality, nor do the songs have strong enough vocal hooks or instrumental flourishes. The arrangements are fairly classy and the compositions flow nicely, with opener "Maria Magdalena" showing that the band can mount a simple yet decent chorus when needed and "Last Shut Of Your Eyes" later displaying the range from the band's most sentimental side to its heaviest. Overall though, I think "Maria Magdalena EP" is good because it is easy to hear that here's a band with 10 years worth of experience to its name, yet it's hindered by the fact that you also sort of understand why they aren't any more famous after all this time.


Download: Maria Magdalena, Melancholia, Last Shut Of Your Eyes
For The Fans Of: Within Temptation, Leaves' Eyes, Nightwish, Amberian Dawn, Magica

Release Date 21.10.2011
Napalm Records

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