By Todd Naevestad
Before we begin, cards on the table. While I make no promises, I’m going to try to be my usual critical and objective self. I think I’ve already shown that I’m a big fan of Clémentine Delauney’s voice in a few articles and the preview piece I wrote already admits that I’ve been looking forward to this album. So fair warning at the start here.
Right, Visions of Atlantis. Having been around in one form or another for 18 years now, they’ve got a solid pedigree going. Shaking up their line up again, The Deep & The Dark, is their first full-length album since 2013 and the first studio project with the new team, notably fronted by Clémentine Delauney and Siegfried Samer. The time between their reform and this release has given them a chance to adjust their sails and get the wind behind them again. Hoping to return to the classic Visions of Atlantis sound and story, the time spent may have been a long journey but there seems to be treasure at the end. And I promise that’s the last of the intentional sea puns going forward.
I think there’s a little magic behind really good albums. They take you on a journey with the music. Maybe it’s a defined story like Apex or maybe it’s the feel of the music that brings you to the world it wants to paint. In the case of The Deep & The Dark, the narrative may be tangentially connected, but each song does an amazing job of pulling you along an epic seafaring adventure like a romanticised fiction novel. They never drop into pirate metal like Alestorm but still retain that high-seas flavor that is so compelling. A major part of that is the lyrical consistency. The songs tackle themes of love and joy, adventure and discovery, heartache and loss, justice and despair. The wordcraft draws me in as a listener and tugs at my heart, both inspiring it to adventure and making it heavy with sad songs. I’m all for that swashbuckling fantasy. Of course pretty words do little for music if the singing isn’t on point, and boy is it ever. Samer and Delauney have a splendid balance between the two of them.Both excellent vocalists in their own right, Samer’s classic power metal style compliments Delauney’s more traditional vocals. In interviews Delauney has claimed not to be as classical as many female metal singers and in I find that to be a major plus. Hers is a unique and memorable voice that sets the music even further apart. I’m so glad she has a solo piece in The Last Home. Her work on Winter Nights is one of my favorite songs and, while not quite as excellent, this song is still great. All of this is built on the tremendous work of the rest of the band, adding guitar and keyboard as the central elements and supported by the rest of the band. Even if the vocals weren’t the main focus, the music is enough to get me jamming along. And the range they work with is surprising, especially in their inspirations. Some songs draw heavily from Asian style music or have a feel like something from the Middle East. The globe sailing themes are reinforced with the breadth of styles on display.
I’m wracking my brain but there’s not anything that I can really criticize about the album. In a sense, it trods well-known ground. It’s a comfortable rut they play in and maybe they could have afforded to try and be a little riskier in their execution, but that’s not something to take away from them. They do what they know and do it well.
I feel compelled to remind you that I am kind of a fanboy here; so take what I say with a grain of salt. This album as a whole fits so well into what I want from a symphonic metal album. It’s got the worldbuilding and the fantasy that draws me into the music. Semar stands tall with Delauney and their voices tell a fantastic story. I’m willing to bet this album is going to be on my top list of 2018, if not at the top. From someone who was going to love it I say check out The Deep & The Dark.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommendations: Sleeping Romance, Secret Rule, Evenmore