Vitne - Aria - (9/10)
Published on September 21, 2019
Genre:Melodic Rock / Pop / Metal
I only discovered Vitne upon the release of his previous album, 2017’s Jupiter. I was instantly taken in and convinced by the sheer charm and charisma it oozed. I was looking for some decent not-quite-metal material and the one-man Norwegian/American project definitely delivered. What he offers is melodic rock with light pop leanings and plenty of influence from Japanese culture. On his newest output, Aria, proceedings have not deviated from that course, but there have been expansions in his overall sound, an improvement in production quality, and a big step up in songwriting and album-crafting. Aria is a dream to listen to; a sonic journey through many landscapes, clearly created as a semi-concept album. Even though the storytelling characteristic is lacking slightly, the range of dynamics and moods is palpable, making the replay value 100%.
As has become tradition, this record kicks off with a haunting piano composition, brilliantly titled “Whispers From Another World” which perfectly sets the ethereal, slightly haunting and melancholy tone for the rest of the album. Just like this tranquil opener, almost every track seems to carry with it an ethereal atmosphere – as if the melodies just float on air, always heading up towards the stars. The melodies themselves utterly ooze a perfect fusion of melancholy and triumph. This could not be more true of the second track, “Escape”. Up-tempo and blood-pumping though it may be, it remains vaguely sad and distantly happy at the same time. Vitne has a real knack for writing tunes that move and stir the heart. Same goes for track 10, “Vanquish The Night” – totally different tempo and feel, but the same moving, stirring melody in the chorus; victorious yet sorrowful.
Aria shines in its ability to dip and peak whilst never getting repetitive or boring. Tempos fluctuate from the jaunty gallops of “Escape” and “Our Way” to the pounding marches of “Vanquish The Night” and “Turn Back Time”. All the while, Vitne makes the most of his penchant for good songwriting. Using the basic verse/chorus structure hasn’t hindered him in the slightest due to the efficacy of the melodies/harmonies themselves. Even at the most ‘metal’ points on the disc, the milky smooth vocals and soaring flutes keep it grounded in its own world and only enhance the celestial atmosphere. Said flute is at its best on the pre-released single “Encephalon” – a track whose wholetone melodies exude a totally unique mood, but really puts the pedal to the metal in its latter half.
This record dips in energy only at its centrepoint. After having our minds blown by the excellent and progressively-tinged “Fever Dream” (surely one of Vitne’s best songwriting achievements to date) and the satisfyingly chunky “Ascension”, the lacklustre “Horizon” is the only real throwaway track on here. It only succeeds in thinning the texture briefly but adds very little to the overall effect of the album. That being said, there is so much more substance on this album to sink your teeth into. From its saddest and most sparse areas (the haunting “Nocturne”) to the heaviest segments on offer (surely the vibrant but pummelling “Encephalon”), Aria is the biggest and best surprise of 2019 for any metalhead looking for something different. Vitne is a one-of-a-kind artist who deserves oodles of attention for his unique, charming and charismatic aura.