Vision Divine - 9 degrees west of the moon 3/5
1. Letter to my child never born
2. Violet loneliness
3. Fading shadow
4. Angels in disguise
5. The killing speed of time
6. The streets of Laudomia
8. Out in open space
9. 9 degrees west of the moon
10. A touch of evil
11. Fading shadow (bonus track)
Vision Divine returns with their 6th CD after a very strong 5th one, 'The 25th hour'. The big change here is that original vocalist Fabio Leone returns. Frankly, I think I would have preferred they stick with Michelle Luppi. I've always liked Leone, but he always drives me a little crazy with his wavering in and out of key and his general whineyness. This is most readily apparent in quiet sections which this CD has in spades. While this CD has generally varying tempos, it seems to lack a lot of the "oomph" that 'The 25th hour' had and comes up short overall. With Leone returning I was hoping for a return to the form of their first 2 CDs, which were pretty consistently melodic speed metal. Alas, it was not to be. This may be their least speedy CD, although we gets bits of speed here and there. Overall, I like the CD, but was hoping for more.
Things start off with the 9-minute long "Letter to my child never born". Now over the years, I have made it clear how tired I am of long songs, and it is definitely a pet peeve of mine when CDs begin with a long, epic track. However, Vision Divine gets away with it here, in large part because "Letter..." is my favorite song on the CD. It's (mostly) one of the livelier tracks on the whole CD; mostly speedy, with what are definitely the CD's catchiest melodies. The chorus is tremendous and gave me great hope for the CD as a whole. I also like the lyrical idea behind the song, which is an emotionally powerful one which resonates with me. There is a quiet sequence in the song which is utterly pointless and could have easily been excised, which would have shortened the track nicely, but the rest of the song is so strong, I'll let it slide. The track length is manageable for the rest of the CD, but the songs don't ever quite measure up. My 2nd favorite (original) track is probably "The streets of Laudomia" which also has among the more memorable melodies on the CD. These catchy melodies are generally what I look for from Vision Divine and Italian power metal in general, and I can only wish there were more of them on this CD. "The killing speed of time" is probably the most aggressive track. It borders almost on thrash levels with filtered vocals and aggressive riffing. Sadly, even this song slows down into some boring sections, which sort of encapsulates the CD as a whole. It feels like it's weighed down by an anchor which drags the tempo and tone down into boring sections. The CD's final (original) track, the title track, is a tepid ballad that doesn't do much for me.
Thankfully the CD doesn't end here as there is a cover of Judas Priest's excellent "Touch of evil". By and large Vision Divine does a terrific job here, and Fabio in particular does a great job with Halford's vocals. Overall I still like the CD, despite wishing it had a bit more energy in it. I just have high expectations for Olaf due to his brilliant 2nd Labyrinth CD ('Return to heaven denied') and the first 2 CDs from Vision Divine. With 'The 25th hour' being such a strong effort, I was hoping for another excellent CD, and this one is merely pretty good.
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