Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium (AFM Records)Friday, 25th September 2020
Australian progressive metal act Vanishing Point move at their own comfortable pace. Understandable as a veteran band, who juggle normal family, life, and work responsibilities while also putting out high quality albums and touring when possible. Dead Elysium comes six years beyond their last impressive effort Distant Is the Sun – in the interim, dealing with some family losses, vocalist Silvio Massaro having to go to a vocal coach to regain his singing voice, plus adding a new rhythm section in bassist Gaston Chin and drummer Damien Hall to the lineup. All the more reason to savor and treasure a new record when it hits the streets, as the band keeps its consistent professional output top of mind.
Guitarist Chris Porcianko juggles many hats brilliantly for VP – co-producer along with seasoned vet Dean Wells (Teramaze/Meshiaak), main songwriting contributor, and his exemplary skill sets as a rhythm guitarist plus the lead work in conjunction with James Maier. His ability to set the table through heavy foundations and explore melodic/progressive terrain on the outskirts creates a sound that can be massive, crunchy, and pulsating. The best examples include the strident opening title cut and the spiral, circular layering that moves onward and upward in a Kamelot fashion for “Free” – drawing out the perfect accents in transitions to keep the listener riveted to the minor details. The band chose to position Silvio in grand situations to emphasize the man’s emotionally-driven, compassionate range – coming from a broader AOR-ish perspective than most progressive metal singers in the business. He is equally adept at handling a relatively straightforward piece like “Count Your Days”, then hitting spacious moments of airy highs during the orchestration-filled “Salvus” – some of the background vocals and softer aspects making this scribe think of Devin Townsend and Aussie vets the Little River Band. Worry can set in on a ten-song record where the song-lengths often stretch to six or seven-minutes – Vanishing Point though offer enough earworms or launch angles that they dive off of while retaining solid hooks and melodies that you never fear boredom. As strong as the first half is, songs like “Recreate the Impossible” and “The Healing” ensure enough dynamic diversity to keep heads banging and toes tapping, the latter blending together Dream Theater, Evergrey, and Kamelot aspects in a vivid display of delight.
Dead Elysium extends what has made records like Embrace the Silence and the aforementioned Distant Is the Sun timeless – seasoning, experience, and pouring through ideas into a solid final product that catches you right away, but makes you dig deeper numerous listens later to gain clarity and insight. Let’s be hopeful that it doesn’t take another six or seven years for the follow-up – but if so, it’s well worth the wait.