Vision Divine // Destination Set to Nowhere
Rating: 2.5/5.0 — Actually, seems like they set the destination to “OK.”
Label: Ear Music
Websites: visiondivine.com | facebook.com/visiondivineofficial
Release Dates: EU: 2012.09.14 | SE: 2012.09.17 | NA: 09.18.2012
When I was an Angry Metal Lad I discovered what was then the burgeoning europower scene of the late 90s early aughts. Deeply influenced by the likes of Rage, Helloween, and Stratovarius I began to be taken in by any band that had a lot of double bass, virtuoso keyboard and guitar solos and a dude who sang moderately operatically but wasn’t too annoying. This held me over for a long time, discovering bands that still stick with me to today as some of my favorites including [Luca Turilli’s] Rhapsody [of Fire], Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica and myriads of others (as well as their aforementioned influences). But like any scene, this one had its boundaries and excesses and after a while I started to get bored. In that process, I missed Vision Divine – an Italian power metal band that includes Rhapsody‘s vocalist Fabio Lione who released their first record in 1999, but I have been given the chance to remedy that now.
2012 sees Vision Divine release their 7th full length and I can tell you, its got all the hallmarks of the scene I fell in love with as an Angry Metal Young Adult. After the cheesy introduction – in Italian nonetheless! – “The Dream Maker” bursts out the door in a slightly-faster-than-mid-paced 4/4 riff with 16th note double bass and a keyboard part that makes your hand hurt just listening to it. Fabio makes his presence known almost immediately over a chunky groove-riff, punctuating it with his… Italian-ness and his dulcet tones. And I found myself immensely bored. The pre-chorus or bridge or whatever it was, is a gentle acoustic laced melodic piece that almost immediately put me to sleep and despite a catchy chorus, I was almost dozing again during the extraordinarily generic keyboard solo. What was going on?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the opening track. As the record continued on through “Beyond the Sun and Far Away” and “The Ark,” my boredom persisted. Destination Set to Nowhere suffers from what I would say is a lack of innovation and a lack of real oomph, drive and songwriting vision. I have previously commented on the fact that somehow [Luca Turilli’s] Rhapsody [of Fire] can write the same record over and over again and be infinitely entertaining because of the sheer convincing talent of the writing, and the huge number of combinations that can be pieced together to make something that is structurally the same seem unique and interesting. Destination Set to Nowhere lacks that. Instead, we’re met with the same power builds that we’ve heard since Keeper of the Seven Keys and that everyone from Magic Kingdom to Thunderstone wrote in their sleep when europower peaked. The keyboard parts and riffing are cool, bridges and solos dazzle here and there, but it’s hardly unique and it’s anything but unforgettable. Instead, it’s white bread, it’s mundane, it’s common and that’s a shame.
It’s a shame because when this band does break through into better songs, they really have some solid, power-class power metal. Once you break through the first four tracks “Mermaids from Their Moons,” sporting a main riff that evokes “Powerslave” (but doesn’t rip it off) is a powerhouse. The main riff’s faux-Egyptian tones are girded by thrashy riffing that actually feels heavy – and the chorus instantly stuck; and while I couldn’t hear Fabio’s famously ESL lyrics, I hummed the song for a day after I first heard it. “The House of the Angels,” is another barnburner, which borders on Symphony X riffing in the beginning and pushes itself into progpower territory at times. While this track shows off Fabio’s tendency to over-sing “soft” sections, he nails the chorus which is an instant euroepower classic. Finally, “Here We Die” is another track that I found to be immensely entertaining – slower at times, but never plodding (unlike earlier tracks on this record) and with really unique vocal harmonies in the pre-chorus piece, before settling into a melancholy chorus which sticks – similar to Rage‘s best material.
But an 11 song record should never only have three tracks I want to listen to. And while the rest isn’t bad – I wouldn’t turn it off and there are moments here and there – as a whole Destination Set to Nowhere is sort of like that “nice” person who wants to date you. Yeah, sure, they’re nice, and… you’re supposed to like nice… but… I dunno.. you can do better.