Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Album Review: Visionatica - Enigma Fire

I find myself saying the same things over and over when it comes to certain genres. Symphonic metal is one of them. If I go back through all the albums fitting the bill I've reviewed over the years, in most of them I would have talked about how many of the bands don't properly embrace the challenge of writing for the symphonic elements, and that classical singers aren't my cup of tea. We can get it out of the way right now that the same is true here, which puts a fairly hard limit on how successful an album like this can be.

But let's be clear; I am not anti-symphonic. I'm all for a good song that throws epic sounds into the mix, but I don't hear many of them that do it in the way I want to hear it. Though rock and not metal, Karnataka's "Secrets Of Angels" is my benchmark for how to integrate symphonic bits into the composition of the songs, while also writing irresistible songs. Spoiler alert; Visionatica doesn't achieve that.

Let's take a look at the first full song on the record, "The Pharao". It starts out with a simple guitar riff, but the symphonic bits are kept for the verses, where they flit in the background. They don't offer a hook of their own, nor do they mirror the riff, so I'm not entirely sure what they are doing there. Then the vocals from Tamara Avodem come in, and while she is a fine singer, her voice is so clean and polished it doesn't sound forceful enough to compete with a metal band. She sounds too small for the stage, and once that realization kicked in, it was hard to take in the rest of the music without that preconception.

Ultimately, that is the biggest takeaway I have from the record. The songs are pleasant, but there is absolutely no edge whatsoever to this music. Metal can be polished, but it can also be polished too far. Between the sheen, and Tamara's vocals, this is a a metal album that doesn't sound the least bit heavy. I've heard clips of Enya songs that had more weight and passion to them. I'm not trying to be harsh, but I'm also not going to sit here and tell you this is something it isn't. Sure, it's got distorted guitars, but it barely rocks, let alone throws up the metal horns.

This is the sort of album that is for die-hard symphonic fans, and just about no one else. Visionatica is not in league with the best the genre has to offer, and they're not really in the next tier down either. They're a band that has adopted the style, but doesn't have the songwriting chops to hit the mark. These songs not only fail to make good use of the symphonic elements, but they aren't particularly interesting as metal tracks either. I say that last bit about Nightwish's recent output as well, but at least they have other interesting things to keep my attention. Visionatica doesn't.

So what we have here is an album that is a pale imitation of something better. There's not much of a reason to be listening to this.

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