Visions Of Atlantis – Pirates – Album Review

Artist: Visions Of Atlantis

Album Title: Pirates

Label: Napalm Records

Date of Release: 13 May 2022

As you’re all fully aware, symphonic metal isn’t generally ago-to style of metal for me, but I’m always keen to be proven wrong, so I will always check out new albums within the genre to see if my general opinion can be changed. The latest band to try their hand at impressing me are Visions Of Atlantis, an entity with which I am familiar of course, but whose output has not yet found its way into my ever-increasing CD collection. Streaming? What’s that?

Anyway, I’m sure you already know all this, but the Austrian symphonic metal band have been through a number of changes over the past few years which has seen many musicians come and go, leaving only one original member standing, namely the drummer, Thomas Caser. Into the ranks has come female vocalist Clémentine Delauney, although she has been present for the better part of a decade now, featuring on the last three records. Caser and Delauney have been more recently joined by guitarist Christian Douscha, bassist Herbert Glos, and male vocalist Michele Guaitoli (Temperance).

I may not be as familiar as others who are reading this review, but it feels to me that ‘Pirates’ marks a bit of a change for the band. For a start, if Visions Of Atlantis had delivered an album of this quality previously, I’d have definitely remembered it; I’m actually very pleasantly surprised by the music that I hear on this new record. Then there’s the press release that had me raising an eyebrow when first I read it. Delauney is quoted as saying:

We embrace who we are and we can state it in the eyes of everyone that we are Pirates now – we have always been, but now we are confident in our identity and we want to show it to the world”

Ok. Pirates? Really? The thing is, much as I feared for the material at the outset bearing this quote in mind, the end product is not a gimmick. It is not music that can only be enjoyed at a festival whilst hideously drunk with your mates and discarded at all other times – there are other bands for that, and we know who they are. Instead, the music on ‘Pirates’ might have a lyrical context that explores themes around the album’s title, but the music is deadly serious and is actually of a high standard overall.

Naturally, where symphonic metal with a female singer is concerned, there will be immediate comparisons drawn to Nightwish, arguably the most well-known and most revered of them all within the genre. And yes, there are some similarities to be heard; it’s a little inevitable in some respects. However, equally important are the echoes of bands like Kamelot, and Amaranthe, and even the likes of Serenity. The latter is hardly surprising given Delauney’s links to another Austrian powerhouse of the metal scene. What all this shows though, is that Visions Of Atlantis have not just decided to become a clone; instead, they have taken inspiration from a reasonably wide range of music within the metal sphere in order to create something that they feel is the right fit for them. The end result was never going to have me shouting about absolute originality, but the music is certainly entertaining and sufficiently interesting to pique my interest.

That wasn’t my first impression though, as an initial spin had me thinking that it was all rather bland. But, as I have invested more time with it, my opinion has slowly changed. At nearly an hour in length and featuring twelve individual tracks, there are a couple of occasions where things go a little off the boil, which isn’t overly surprising I suppose. For the most part though, the charm and quality of the music has begun to make inroads.

The opener, ‘Pirates Will Return’ begins with a dark, brooding intro that fittingly emerges from the depths, and begs the question of who is responsible for the synths and keys, because no-one is apparently credited for it in the promo material as far as I can see. This conundrum aside, the song soon settles into an up-tempo, hard-rocking affair, Delauney immediately making her mark with an assured performance that begins with a clean, attitude-laden ‘rock’ delivery, quickly switching into a more operatic style to change things up. When Michele Guaitoli, the track then takes on a greater power metal feel with strong, fast-paced drumming driving the song along. The chorus is a little whimsical, complete with choral vocals, but eventually it starts to get stuck in my head. However, it is the quieter, darker instrumental sections that work best for me as they provide some nice drama along the way.

By contrast, ‘Melancholy Angel’ is a much shorter, punchier track that features some very welcoming and catchy melodies, designed to have maximum impact right from the word ‘go’. Guest musician Ben Metzner makes his presence known at the outset of ‘Master The Hurricane’ with a flute-led introduction, before we’re led on a full-on symphonic metal tour-de-force, the likes of which both Nightwish and Epica would likely be proud of. The light and shade is compelling, from delicate, introspective moments, right through to outrageous bombast, creating one of the best cuts on the album and delivering one of the most arresting choruses for my personal tastes in the process. If you’re like me, you’ll be singing along with gusto by the third spin, maybe sooner.

And therein lies one of the strengths of ‘Pirates’, namely the variety. Too often, I find symphonic metal, for all its over-the-top grandiosity, can end up feeling one-dimensional due to a lack of variety. That’s not generally the case here at all, with a good mix of approaches to keep the attention of listeners throughout.

‘Clocks’ is the Amaranthe-inspired instant hit of saccharine modern melodic metal, but with the compelling duo of Delauney and Guaitoli at the helm instead, doing a fabulous job together. Then there’s ‘Wild Elysium’ that I adore as it does a fantastic job of resurrecting the very best Khan-era Kamelot material, albeit with both female and male vocals as wel as even more prominent orchestration.

I’m less keen overall about the ballads that appear in the form of ‘Freedom’ and ‘Heal The Scars’ because they are a bit too gentle and twee for me, but the more energetic compositions in between redress the balance, such as the surprisingly muscular and heavy ‘Legion Of The Seas’, or the poignant and rousing ‘I Will Be Gone’ with bagpipes and flute embellishments from Metzner. Rather than sound gimmicky, the flutes and bagpipes instead add a sense of authenticity to the material that I never thought would be the case if I’m being totally honest – it just shows that when handled correctly, just about anything can work within a metallic framework…almost.

All-in-all, I can’t be anything other than positive towards ‘Pirates’, the eighth record of Vision Of Atlantis’ career. It’s not completely perfect, but it is a much more impressive affair than I anticipated when I decided to check it out for the first time. Kudos for this has to go to Clémentine Delauney and Michele Guaitoli who, alongside producer Felix Heldt were instrumental in the writing of this record. But all of the band deserve credit because ‘Pirates’ is an assured, powerful, and slick album that provides some genuinely entertaining and enjoyable symphonic metal. It’s not often I utter these words, that’s for sure, so Visions Of Atlantis should take a well-earned bow for forcing me to say such positive things.

The Score of Much Metal: 87%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)

OU – One

Haunter – Discarnate Ails

Aara – Triade II: Hemera

Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus

Demonical – Mass Destroyer

I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping

Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle

Delvoid – Swarmlife

LionSoul – A Pledge To Darkness

Watain – The Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain

Dischordia – Triptych

Dragonbreed – Necrohedron

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Vanum – Legend

Stone Broken – Revelation

Radiant – Written By Life

Skull Fist – Paid In Full

Hurakan – Via Aeturna

Incandescence – Le Coeur De L’Homme

Imminent Sonic Destruction – The Sun Will Always Set

Monuments – In Stasis

Soledad – XIII

Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes

Credic – Vermillion Oceans

Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn

Darkher – The Buried Storm

Treat – The Endgame

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s