ReviewsVisions of Atlantis - Pirates II: Armada (Napalm)

Visions of Atlantis – Pirates II: Armada (Napalm)

Visions of Atlantis seemed to finally lock in a solid line-up with the release of Wanderers, and over the course of Wanderers and Pirates they seemed to be looking for that quinessential Visions of Atlantis sound. While ‘sequel’ albums are something that can make some fans admittedly jittery about, to these ears, it seems like VoA have finally locked in the combination of their symphonic metal sound, open sea lyrical content, and orchestral atmosphere to truly release the strongest album they’ve made so far with Armada.

In more recent years, the glut of symphonic metal releases has soured some of its finer qualities in that there’s just so much to consume (much like other subgenres) and much of it lacks punch and/or inspiration. Armada feels like a breath of fresh air for the genre. While there’s admittedly not a brand new approach or anything, Visions of Atlantis impress with their ability to put all the necessary pieces for symphonic metal together with sheer charm and charisma. There’s not a cut within the twelve, including the mood-setting opener “To Those Who Choose to Fight,” that don’t feel compelling. Said track opens like a gentle calling out to the sea and builds up for the more epic sounding “The Land of the Free” to rush in and sweep you off your feet with it’s adventurous tone, led by Clémentine Delauney’s triumphant vocals (assisted at just the right moments by Michele Guaitoli) and some admittedly heavy riffing. While many in the genre may have forgotten, well the metal, in their symphony VoA have thoroughly seized it. One listen to the merger of symphonics and riffing in the frantic title track will have you know that VoA mean business with grabbing your attention and getting you to raise a fist and headbang.

While some of the tracks pack a wallop of energy, there’s also an effective display of diversity to the tracks. There’s the upbeat and almost dance-able (in a pirate-y kind of way) of “Tonight I’m Alive” and the melodic and folk-y “Magic of the Night” for those who want something more rousing but eases off the guitar and cinematic bombast. Then, as to be expected, there’s two ballads in the form of “Underwater” and “Ashes to the Sea,” with the former hitting more power ballad-y vibes for Delauney and the latter having a mournful tone and more interplay between her and Guaitoli. While most tracks are slim and trim, going 3-4 minutes, “Dead of the Sea” and “Where the Sky and Ocean Blend” swirl all of the VoA elements together for an even more epic and grandiose time, and are effectively placed and the midway and end to really provide some moments of sail-hoisting adventure and fun.

It’s easy to claim that Pirates II: Armada is Vision of Atlantis’ greatest achievement to date. It provides some thrilling, ‘orchestra meets riffs’ clashes, fun and engaging melodies, and genuinely emotional moments all wrapped up in a pirate-themed tale that ties up everything as nicely as a sailor’s knot. Visions of Atlantis has never sounded this cinematic and confident, and that makes this release a real treasure for symphonic metal fans.

Visions of Atlantis on Facebook
Visions of Atlantis on Instagram