Released: 2016, Dr. Music Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Visionatica began in 2013 when vocalist Amara Avodem met with guitarist Manuel Buhn and along with drummer Gerhard Spanner and bass player Michael Wolnitza (replaced by Georg Buchs) they have crafted nine tracks of symphonic metal that looks to throw them into the limelight of the subgenre. The quartet from Nuremberg in Bavaria look to the Wolf as a source of inspiration for many of the themes that arise in this album. The mysticism and power of the wolf is represented by the band's combination of elaborate symphonic arrangements with some mighty metal inspired instrumentation. With this combined force, 'Cult Of Luna' looks to transcend beyond the realms of the flesh and ignite the spiritual connection between man and beast.
Vocalist Amara Avodem has a impeccable soprano which has been nurtured in the halls of opera houses since she was a teenager and has plenty of experience when applying her vocal talents to musical arrangements. A lot of the music does sound to be designed around her vocals. After the opening instrumental track we get to 'Swamp Of The Earth' where we first get to sample her range. The music starts off quite dramatically with the shifting power chords from Manuel Buhn being given elevated support by the symphonic backing. The drums go full force before the song breaks and we are introduced to Amara's serene voice. We get a brief section of tranquility before the instruments come back in force. The lyrics bring us back into reality from the fantastical when Amara sings "Is this a nightmare, no it's reality" as she elaborates about how we all have a choice when faced by the dark forces of the world and that we can maintain a sense of truth and well being in the face of such adversities. When we get to Steve Crouse's little fill it starts to feel a bit like a pantomime and if this was the start to a concept album of sorts then it would be more suitable but it just feels a little cringeworthy and unnecessary.
'Swamp Of The World' does provide a worthy beginning to the album and is one of the strongest examples of flair for the fantastical that Visionatica have exhibited musically. 'Lillith' the third track is carried by an orchestral string section which gets replicated later on in the song by the guitars quite impressively. It has a catchy chorus as does 'She Wolf' which was the song chosen for the band's first music video. 'She Wolf' does have a nice opening guitar part that does give the song a bit of bite and drives the song forward. Accompanied by the double kicks of Mr Spanner it serves as a heavier example of Visionatica's prowess. After viewing the video for 'She Wolf' (and 'Certainty Of Benevolence') and seeing the band's awkward appearance(s) on camera I'm sure it's safe to say that keeping to record and live performances may be most advisable for the band. Just seems highly unnatural through that platform but on record we have our imaginations to bring their concepts to life.
Everything is highly catchy and cleaner than Mother Theresa's criminal record as the hard work done by the production exploits of Timon Seidl at the Red Audio Studios has eliminated any chance of slip ups coming through. The mixing is of an impeccable standard but we get no primal outbursts of disorientating fusion or grand distortion of coalescing forces to blow us away, For all the beauty and phenomenal talents that Amara has with her voice, we only get one sort of vocal style that just shifts in pitch. It doesn't have to be all screams but there is an inherent contrast between metal music and this soft touch approach. There's nothing irreproachable with the totality of clean singing for this type of music, it just feels highly one dimensional. At least Visionatica do implement some strong examples of instrumentation to justify the 'metal' tag that has been attributed to them. Songs such as 'Imprinting Lies' does exhibit this necessary force.
On the seventh track 'The Thorns' we get a duet with Amara and Michael Liewald the singer from Winterstom. The song is led by Amara until the two combine to create a spell-binding and highly evocative form. It works quite well and the placement of the song on the album fits well after 'Certainty Of Benevolence'. The penultimate track 'Totem' brings a quite simple guitar riff that, like at most parts of the album, gets exaggerated by the symphonic backing. Again we have Amara leading the pack, serving as the alpha female driving the fluency of the music. The final track is the longest track on the album and the only one to surpass five minutes in length. We aren't treated to a big dramatic finish but more of a continuation of the preceding tracks. We do get some pronounced lead work from Manuel before the songs shifts into full on orchestral mode and then is conquered once again by the dominance of Amara.
The album is certainly consistent as Visionatica have clearly worked hard at forming their sound since their formation. Symphonic metal can be used correctly or wrongly and in Visionatica's case it has definitely been used sufficiently. They have been able to craft some phenomenal arrangements that are well complemented by the alluring vocals of Amara. At times you will be taken to a world of pure fantasy, at others you will be brought down by the crushing weight of reality but Visionatica have excelled in constructing music that can make you traverse these plains seamlessly. They are a very recent band with bags upon bags of potential and they clearly have an ear for and understanding of orchestral arrangements that will only serve to further their conquest to make their mark on the genre. Not much more needs to be said. Have a listen and run with the wolf pack, just make sure that you don't do anything to make Amara the 'She Wolf' bare her teeth.
REVIEW BY: PETE MUTANT