Vanishing Point – Distant is the Sun (AFM Records)

Thursday, 20th February 2014
Rating: 9.5/10

Australia: The land down under, often considered too remote to be a relevant cultivator in terms of potent metal talent. Not anymore, especially with the social media and instant access to information tools that with a few taps and keystrokes can gain you literally anything your aural head and heavy heart desires. Vanishing Point hail from said country in the capital city Melbourne, existing since 1995 and slowly building up an ardent melodic progressive metal following through their four previous studio albums.

Distant Is the Sun comes after a prolonged absence from the studio (The Fourth Season hitting the streets in 2007), but watching your label declare bankruptcy plus two member shifts can delay any sort of forward momentum in a career. Now back as a five-piece with latest recruits bassist Simon Best and second guitarist James Maier, the band confidently stride into this 14-track album with a sense of purpose – veterans seeking to stake their claim as one of the best in this genre.

I’m immediately floored by the multi-part vocal harmonies and general level of professional range in singer Silvio Massaro – he has the lower, exploratory depth of Roy Khan (ex-Kamelot) while the stunning high AOR-connection that rivals Nils of Pagan’s Mind or the institution of 70’s/ early 80’s Little River Band. Check out the power ballad “Story of Misery” or gallop, stair step number “When Truth Lies” for his upper echelon work. Musically, the band is pushing the melodic, progressive metal barrier with that same sense of energy, tenacity, and dynamic dark to light atmosphere.

Guitarists Chris Porcianko and the aforementioned Maier strike with layers of rhythms, ringing out chords and knowing when to lay back and go full force with harmonic interludes or closing instrumental sections to drive home all these hooks. “Distant is the Sun” stands out from the start, the circular opening riff dancing toe to toe with the keyboards in a Kamelot way, while “Circle of Fire” speeds away, the symphonic horse race tempered with this Evergrey meets Pagan’s Mind majesty.

Drummer Christian Nativo delivers some killer fills and main parts at times – check out the astounding time signature juggling and tempo changes for “Era Down” – but the intricacy never overshadows the main arrangements. Vanishing Point know that in the end when it comes to this genre, if you don’t have a hook, a melody, something people can retain- you only have limited appeal. Fortunately for us all, Distant Is the Sun is an hour long plus odyssey that will hit future ‘must buy’ lists, and possibly be a case in study decades down the line.

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