Vision Divine – 25th Hour – 4/5
Anyone who has heard Mr. Chan’s rants will have heard the name Labyrinth – perhaps one of the few power metal bands we can agree on – but sadly, since their early days things have been going downhill for them. What’s perhaps a little surprising about this artist is how they succeeded in performing under my radar despite claiming host to the bassist, lead guitarist and keyboardist from the aforementioned Labyrinth. Performing with a vivacity that feels distinctly more ‘Italian’ in that softer symphonic manner, combining soaring vocals with Labyrinth’s hard-hitting aggressive virtuosity; this 2007 release sees what may as well be known as a Labyrinth/Rhapsody collaboration recombine to produce solid power metal, that whilst breaking no boundaries does precisely what it says on the tin.
The vocals retain a powerful quality essential to the genre, thick in their tone but not without their elegance; the emotional weight he can carry with each note evident (particularly in “The Daemon You Hide”). Not incapable of demonstrating the variety of pitch in his melodies, he shows no reluctance to hit his upper register with ease without allowing them to become overly dominant. The keyboards assist in carrying his melody, broadening the overall tone of the composition for many of the tracks; their main strength lying in not becoming too dominant and smothering the sound in the end result, but rather in creating a separate complementary layer. Like many of the musicians, he proves his abilities with the multiple gentle piano passages and neo-classical solo’s, often playing off the guitars in a manner that matches their capabilities.
And it is the guitars that prove to be one of the strongest aspects to this artist; both rhythm and lead performing interweaving melodies as opposed to the two following each other as is frequently found. One often allowing his notes to ring out whilst the other continues the rhythm – even allowing the bass to be subtly heard in the back – and whilst the core of their sound is built on a certain simplicity that treads the line between elegance and aggression, it is with the solo’s that they prove themselves. Constructed primarily to suit the track at hand, they demonstrate an overt neo-classical style that is kept short and to the point to avoid becoming stagnant. In this stellar line-up it is perhaps only the drumming that feels like a weak link; competent enough to keep the beat and provide the occasional fill, all too often they feel unimpressively relegated to the back.
The manner in which the tracks succeed in bleeding together, each track distinct from the last, showing a steady transition between them creating a cohesion without monotony. Each key member is given ample opportunity to prove themselves, and whilst lacking that certain impact that separates them from the masters of the genre, succeed in doing just that. There is unfortunately little that truly stands out in either a positive or negative manner, catchy vocal melodies and guitar riffs abound, nothing feels truly remarkable. They break no new ground, but deliver on some solid power metal that retains a strong keyboard element without forgetting to give focus to the guitars.
Highlights: 25th Hour, Alpha & Omega, The Daemon You Hide, A Perfect Suicide