Visions of Atlantis - Cast away 3.5/5
1. Send me a light
2. Cast away
4. Realm of fantasy
5. Pharoah's repentance
7. State of suspense
9. Last shut of your eyes
I've found that I was looking forward to this release as if it was another Nightwish CD. I've always liked the Visions of Atlantis debut 'Eternal endless infinity', probably because it sounds extremely close to the Nightwish debut 'Angels fall first'. Both CDs have the obvious "debut" sound, but they're catchy, memorable, and very fresh for their time. Another easy comparison between the 2 bands, is the vocals from Tarja Turunen of Nightwish and Nicole Bogner of Visions of Atlantis. Tarja is maybe a little better overall, but not by much. In fact, I would have a hard time deciding which one was singing if I had to.
Just as both Tarja and Nicole had male vocalists alongside them on their debuts, Visions of Atlantis again has a male vocalist to duel with Nicole, but a different one on 'Cast away'. They've drafted the pleasant vocals of Mario Plank for this latest outing, and he's an improvement over the previous Christian Stani. Mario sure has a clear voice, and fits in quite well with not only Nicole, but also the music.
Some slight improvements are heard immediately with this 2nd CD 'Cast away'. The entire CD has a more mature sound, and it flows very well. Track 1 "Send me a light" is a great start with a nice guitar solo and Mario singing the chorus. We don't have to wait long to hear the best song on the CD with track 2 "Cast away"! It's such a smooth song and the well written chorus doesn't take long to cling to your ears. Even the slow track 6 "Winternight" has grown on me, a lot more than I would have initially thought. The band is still very symphonic, as most evident on track 4 "Realm of fantasy", and they have some good keyboard parts, mostly heard on track 3 "Lost". So there are plenty of great songs, and not one that isn't at least good.
But I had really high expectations with 'Cast away', and it has left me with one complaint. As much as I like the clear voice of Mario, he sings too much on the CD. There are a number of songs that start out with his vocals, as opposed to Nicole's. Not to mention the high number of choruses sung by Mario. The band should be happy with what Mario has brought to their music, like I said, the CD has a really "smooth" and "pleasant" sound to it. But Nicole needs to be an even more dominant vocalist, and Mario should take a complimentary approach. But this is a minor complaint, and it doesn't really bring the CD down. Just don't expect a CD like Nightwish's 2nd, and complete masterpiece, 'Oceanborn', as 'Cast Away' hasn't really blown me away.
So we end up with a solid follow-up to their debut, a band that has improved a little, but still has room to improve even more. I've felt a strong sense of passion with this release though, and fans like us need to appreciate what bands like this do for the genre. Don't make the mistake of passing this up while waiting for the next 'Oceanborn', it may never come along. Instead, enjoy the music of today, from a band that has given us a wonderful effort.
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