Vanishing Point - Embrace the silence 4.5/5

Reviewed: 10-14-05





Tracklist:

1. Hollow
2. My virtue
3. If only I
4. Live 2 live
5. Embraced
6. Season of Sundays
7. Once a believer
8. Reason
9. Breathe
10. Somebody save me
11. Inside yourself
12. A life less
13. As I reflect


Okay, I admit it. There are certain bands about whom I am simply incapable of being objective. For me, Vanishing Point are just such a band. I've crossed paths with these talented Australians in multiple countries over the years. I traipsed through Hamburg with them on the night I celebrated my 29th birthday, which coincidentally enough also happened to be guitarist Chris Porcianko's 29th birthday. I watched them tear up a stage in Prague opening for Gamma Ray, then I proceeded to stay out with them for most of the night drinking dirt-cheap Czech beer until none of us could see straight. I served as their unofficial "tour guide" on a sunny autumn afternoon in Budapest, where Chris Porcianko saved me from a wrathful Hungarian bouncer and sneaked me backstage for a lengthy personal audience with Vanishing Point and the Hansens (oh, that would be Kai and Gabi Hansen in case you're wondering). I've been on their tourbus. I've bought them vodka and cigarettes from an Eastern European truckstop. I hold all members of this band in high personal regard. How can I possibly write an unbiased review about their latest CD? I can't, so I won't even try.

The name of the game for Vanishing Point is extremely classy, song-oriented, emotional power/progressive metal, topped by the world-class vocals of Silvio Massaro. Perhaps the best point of comparison for their sound is the criminally underrated Poverty's No Crime, but the Aussies have better vocals, better compositions, more punch, and more intricate arrangements than do their German counterparts. Vanishing Point's excellent 2nd CD, 'Tangled in dream', was released through LMP in 2000, and gained them worldwide distribution and critical acclaim. A coveted opening slot on Gamma Ray's 2001 European tour ensued, and soon even budding Finnish superstars Sonata Arctica were covering a Vanishing Point song as a bonus track. The future seemed bright indeed. Unfortunately, it took the boys nearly 5 years to unleash their follow-up CD, 'Embrace the silence', thanks to a litany of record company woes, health problems, personnel issues and other problems inherent in trying to run an independent band in addition to work, family and other life commitments.

I'm thrilled to report that 'Embrace the silence' makes up for lost time in a big way, as this CD is all about big hooks, big songs, big melodies and big production. This CD continues in Vanishing Point's patented, classy power/prog style, although it is definitely heavier and speedier than its predecessor. I think the band have taken a few more cues from the European power metal scene this time, which for my tastes is definitely a good thing. The riffs of Porcianko and Tommy Vacur are powerful, creative and catchy. The rhythm section of bassist Joe Del Mastro and Jack Lucik is solid as a rock. And Massaro's vocal performance is once again worth its weight in gold (check out his performance on the brilliant closing ballad, "As I reflect"). The chuggier tunes like "Once a believer", "Insight", "If only I", "Hollow" and "A life less" are predictably my favorites, but there's a wide range of material here, and all of it is remarkably well done.

Ultimately, I can pay Vanishing Point no higher compliment than to say that they represent the absolute pinnacle of their genre now. Regular readers of this site will know that my tastes generally hew to the heavier, faster end of the power metal spectrum, and that I tend not to go for proggier, more keyboardy bands. All of that is true, but when the style is executed this well I can't help but be mesmerized. Honestly, between 'Embrace the silence' and the new Redemption CD, I feel like I've heard the very cream of the crop that the melodic power/prog genre has to offer in 2005. If Foster's is Australian for beer, then surely 'Embrace the silence' is Australian for power/prog metal oozing with class.



KIT




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