The Austrian Symphonic Metal band VISIONS OF ATLANTIS released its 4th full-length album, “Delta”, in February 2011. You can read the review here. Several gigs, including supporting RHAPSODY OF FIRE, later the band returns with the EP “Maria Magdalena”, which was released on the 21st October. The EP of course contains the band’s rendition of SANDRA’s same-titled hit from 1985 plus 5 other tracks of which one is re-recorded (“Last Shut Of Your Eyes” from the “Cast Away” album from 2004). The line-up also changed: guitarist Werner Fiedler left and was replaced by Cris Tian, while Mario Lochert left as bassist.
When you listen to the original of “Maria Magdalena” it’s clear this is a simple song, but one with a certain atmosphere and feel, aside from the typical sound of the 1980’s. VISIONS OF ATLANTIS transposed it to the 21st century and added not only power, but also symphonic bombast. Of course this gives the song a totally different impression. The end reuslt is atractive, in a different way. The vocal performances are good, that’s without question. Maxi Nil does very well on this recording. Mario’s voice, however, does sound a bit strange. Perhaps it’s the accent, I don’t know. But it’s trivial, although I wouldn’t have minded a bit more roughness in his voice. All in all, VOA turned it into a nice cover.
“Melancholia” begins in an atmospheric way and when the symphonics are added, a sense of theater or musical comes to mind. You could almost compare it to TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA or SAVATAGE. But then the Metal kicks in with grooving guitarwork and pounding drums, all sounding very firm. The Metal sounds dominate in the mix, while the symphonic side is pushed to the back. Maybe it would have been better to give the melodic aspect a bit more room. The chorus contrasts with the verses in terms of melody and is also slower. It’s also here that Maxi takes lead vocals. At some point the song does get happier overall, to then fall back with a galopping rhythm. It’s a good song, but nothing extraordinary.
Another song you can compare with other bands is “Change Of Tides”, which sounds like – for example – a mix of SAVATAGE, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA and NIGHTWISH and particularly the new NIGHTWISH, the one with Anette. Mario’s voice dominates in the symphonic verses, while Maxi’s comes in in a second instant. She also brings along the atmospheric keyboards. The chorus is where the tempo does up and double kickdrums shoot into action. The symphonic bombast is then also greater. Pretty good stuff overall. Perhaps, next to the cover, the best track on this EP.
“Distant Shores” begins with a symphonic intro, after which the entire band falls in. Mario’s taking leads here, while Maxi again comes in in the next moment and so each takes turns. Overall this song is more emotional. The chorus is where the magic happens. Maxi is the center of attention and the whole sounds grand! The symphonic elements are vital in supporting/guiding her. The re-recording of “Last Shut Of Your Eyes” sounds better, of course. The vocal performances are also better, although it sounds as if Mario is holding back when singing the words, as if he squeezes his throat or something. Maxi’s voice fits very well here, better than Nicole Bogner, to be honest. All in all, a nice result, but the song itself is, in my humble opinion, not that special. “Beyond Horizon” appears to be the follow-up to “The Poem” from the 2007 release “Trinity”. Here as well, a symphonic intro with samples drums (or from an electronic kit). It’s a ballad, sad and melancholic. The guitar solo and symphonic elements add to this impression. In general, not bad, but again nothing special either.
VISION OF ATLANTIS’s album “Delta” was a very positive surprise in my book. It also took me several listens to properly appreciate the songs and effort that went into writing them. This new release, the “Maria Magdalena” EP, is actually not something for the general fan, rather for the die-hard fan. The cover song is well done, so is “Change Of Tides”. The others are nice, though rather mediocre. Anyone else is advised to check out the full albums, especially “Delta”.
- Maria Magdalena
- Change Of Tides
- Distant Shores
- Last Shut Of Your Eyes
- Beyond Horizon
Maxi Nil – vocals
Mario Plank – vocals
Cris Tian – guitars
Martin Harb – keyboards
Thomas Caser – drums