Vision Divine - The 25th hour 4/5
1. My angel died
2. The 25th hour
3. Out of a distant night (Voices)
4. Alpha & omega
5. Eildes of a child
6. The daemon you hide
7. Waiting for the dawn
8. Essence of time
9. A perfect suicide
10. Heaven calling
Vision Divine's 5th CD is a concept album that follows up the story in 'Stream of conciousness'. I found 'Stream...' such a dull CD, so I never really looked into the lyrical content. The story in 'The 25th hour' takes place 40 years afterwards and is basically an oddball exploration of the meaning of life. Oddly enough, it ends with the main character killing himself to escape the circle of life, breaking into the 25th hour and ascending to heaven. Kind of a bummer. Overall, I like the CD quite a bit - much more than the aforementioned 'Stream...' and more than the pretty good 4th CD, 'The perfect machine'.
This CD opens with a sombre piano backed vocal "My angel died", where the main character laments the death of his guardian angel. This basically serves the typical role of introductory track to the title-track, "The 25th hour", which is your typical uptempo song and flits along nicely and features a catchy chorus. It also has a quieter middle part with reflective vocals and lots of keyboards. This mix of melodic speed with quiet more progressive oriented parts is basically the framework for the whole CD. The CD doesn't really have any (or many) consistently fast songs, with lots of variations in tempo. Nearly every song has some quicker moments, but none of them really put the pedal to the metal for the whole song as was found on the band's first 2 CDs.
This variety still leads to a pretty entertaining CD with plenty of variety to keep the songs from running together. "Out of a distant night (voices)" follows up the title-track with a cool melodic lead guitar lick at a midtempo pace, but peps things up a bit during the verses. Once again the chorus is memorable. I really enjoy vocalist Michelle Luppi, who has a clear, somewhat high-pitched voice without becoming a siren. I can't determine if I think he's more of a pop singer or metal singer though, so we'll call him somewhere in the middle. In any event, he's a quality vocalist, and his Italian accent only really comes through in the more quiet moments of the CD. Other highlights include "Eyes of a child", which after a brief piano intro is pretty much the most consistently speedy track on the CD, and it's probably my favorite track. (What can I say? I like my power metal fast!) "Alpha & omega" is notable for actually having some decently heavy riffing and a nice groove to it. Things stay pretty melodic in it, so it's not a massive stylistic change for the band. "A perfect suicide" is also strong with a mix of speed and midtempo parts. It also has a pretty engaging chorus whose catchy melodies might be in utter contrast to the song's lyrical content.
It took me a while to figure out how I felt about this CD. I kept alternating between hot and cold for the first month or so I had it. I had heard a lot of hype for this CD prior to hearing it, so I was expecting a lot. Overall it has grown on me quite a bit, and I even find myself enjoying the sappy "Heaven is calling". I think I still prefer the style of the first 2 Vision Divine CDs which were more consistently melodic speed and only dabbled a bit with the progressive elements. Of course, I really preferred the Olaf Thornsen led Labyrinth CDs, but those days are long gone now. Still, it's hard to argue with the quality of the songwriting on this CD, so I will grudgingly give this CD the nod as the best Vision Divine CD in recent years.
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