Visions of Atlantis – Maria Magdalena EP (Napalm Records)

Saturday, 23rd March 2013
Rating: 7/10

Far from the top rung in the female-fronted symphonic metal world, Visions of Atlantis appear to be regaining some sense of normalcy after enduring some painstaking singer switcheroos leading up to last year’s Delta. With newbie singer Maxi Nil now firmly entrenched, the Austrians have popped out the six-song EP Maria Magdalena as sort of a precursor to their next full-length, or as means of keeping the momentum from Delta flowing. One or the other.

Sound-wise, VOA is rather run-of-the-mill sounding, employing the oft-used symphonic swaths and crunchy riffing. Perhaps the band’s only unique trait is the he-versus-she vocal dual between Nil and male vocalist Mario Plank, who often serves a complementary role, save for the pervasive swoon of “Melancholia.” The EP’s title track is a cover of Sandra’s “Maria Magdalena” and its poppy 80’s tilt makes the song an instant success, while the previously-mentioned “Melancholia” manages to click thanks to a deluge of momentous keyboard flourishes and Plank’s husky vocals.

The remainder of the EP rolls along at a Nightwish circa 2002 pace, with “Change of Tides” borrowing a few pages from the Tuoumas Holopainen songwriting textbook. The melodious “Distant Shores” fares better, with Nil’sbest performance on the EP, while Plank steals the spotlight on the drab ballad “Last Shut of Your Eyes.”

Because of its brevity, the Maria Magdalena EP emerges as a strong showing for Visions of Atlantis. One has serious doubts if the band will ever make out of the female-fronted symphonic metal morass, so take this is as it is. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before.

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