Vanishing Point – The Fourth Season – 4.5/5
I don’t like prog/power, quite simply. Overpopulated by musicians who treat the genre as an excuse to cobble together some half-assed cheesy lyrics and play their instruments incoherently as quickly as they can, so when I point out that this is probably one of the best releases I’ve had the joy of listening to within this genre, you can be damn sure I mean it. Not driven by technicality, but by mature emotion, void of any feelings of angst or whining, everything they compose serves to assist in this regard. Comparable to a ‘Fullness of Time (Redemption) meets Underworld (Adagio)’ affair, each instrument is worked seamlessly to provide a perfect harmony.
The artwork present here aptly describes exactly what to expect from this release, simplistic, elegant, epic and with a slightly darkened tone, this is one release with a difference. Barely feeling belonging to the progressive genre, the tempo shifts and time signatures are done in such a way to feel completely natural, retaining a deceptive complexity as each aspect feels connected. The keyboards providing more than a simple backing, often directly contributing to the melody without feeling overwhelming in making light of the emotions contained, with a subtle repressed tone they work their magic without undermining the phenomenal guitar work.
And the guitar work truly is phenomenal, the bass creating a deep, almost gothic crunch, evoking a storm on the senses, working with the guitars to create perfect transitions between passages; dark, depressed, furious and epic, the range and versatility is remarkable. With no short supply of solos, creating a piece that – beyond all else – actually fits with the music, there is no sense of playing rapidly for the sake of it, it highlights their ability to create a seamless piece, with a truly remarkable sense of direction, as though each member envisions precisely the same result.
Even the drums are no slack here, whilst perhaps not as impressive as the other components they aren’t required to be. Simple, yet with plenty of variety, clearly paying careful attention to the rest of the components of the tracks and utilised to create additional impact at critical points, to give emphasis to the focus, which unquestionably is more often than not the vocalist. Why he isn’t being heralded as one of the greats already is a complete mystery to me, with all the power of LaBrie (Dream Theatre), aggression of Allen (Symphony X), and greater versatility than either of them, he delivers an emotional master class on vocal delivery. Without slacking for the lyrics (just listen to “A Day of Difference” for proof of that), he succeeds in creating an almost AOR feel to the proceedings, and is capable of a producing a whole range of tireless emotions in a supremely addictive tone that will have you bellowing along side for the entire albums duration.
If you’re looking for technical wizardry, you’ve come to the wrong place – go look up behold…the arctopus instead – because these Aussies are beyond that, better than it. This album proves something far more important than how quick they can play; it proves that they have passion. Only let down by a couple of sub-par tracks towards the end, this comes a whisker away from perfection. If you’re still reading this, stop. Its time to reach for the download link.
Highlights: Surrender, Hope Among the Heartless, Gaia, A Day of Difference