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 catalogue 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 VISIION 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.
(Online September 9, 2012)