Updated: Mar 30
Back a year or so ago, Vision Divine was in a similar position as Rhapsody of Fire in that it was without the services of vocalist Fabio Lione. The band's last release "Destination Set to Nowhere" - now seven years old - was highly regarded as another in a line of power/progressive masterpieces from a band that has been consistently brilliant in songwriting, even though not consistently releasing albums. The band is no stranger to vocalist changes, but when personally speaking to songwriter/founder Olaf Thorsen in September 2018, he indicated that he finally found a singer who could sing the new material and back catalog equally. Still he was mum on the name. When the band issued the video for the brilliant power metal laden single "Angel of Revenge," which presented Derdian's Ivan Giannini, there was no doubt that Thorsen had recruited one of the most talented vocalists in Italy. Thus, the chances for another in a long line of phenomenal albums from Vision Divine was secure.
There are some musicians that your author rarely worries about when it comes to writing modern, intelligent and glorious music, and Olaf Thorsen and keyboardist Alessio Lucatti rank prominently among them. Always reliable, Thorsen has such an incredible talent for creating music that is cutting edge, catchy and wonderfully written, but which never forgets to be metal. Too many acts these days blur the lines of music, effectively casting off the metal part as some sort of subservient form of music that is childish, or cro-magnon. Vision Divine's appeal to so many fans of a variety of subgenres is what sets it apart from your typical power/progressive metal band - the power is still drawn from its metallic routes. Call it "grown up power metal," if you will.
The biggest difference between "Destination Set to Nowhere" and "When All the Heroes Are Dead" is that the material is much more uptempo and hard charging. There is new life in this band and it shows in the perfectly mixed and produced sound (with Simone Mularoni joining both Thorsen and Lucatti on the production team), which is both heavy and airy. The first three songs - "The 26th Machine," "3 Men Walk on the Moon" and "Fall From Grace" - burst forth with thrilling riffs, impassioned solos and Giannini's incredible range. That momentum only lets up for a few songs throughout the rest of the release.
The band took some crap from some "well educated fans" when they released "3 Men Walk on the Moon" as a single, daring to insinuate from the title that astronaut Michael Collins walked on the moon, losing the spirit of a song that was not only a celebration the achievements of the Apollo 11 mission but one of the best tunes on the album. If it only the song was entitled "2 Men Walk on the Moon and 1 Had No Place in History Because He Stayed in the Columbia Module Watching the Eagle Land Below Him" then all would be good.
The album's stunning power ballads come in the form of "While the Sun is Turning Black" and album closer "The Nihil Propaganda" - where Giannini really gets to show off the entire repertoire of his vocals, from the effortless screams to a stirring low end, while the music expands and pours out around him. Some of the album's best overall musicianship appears on the title track, where Thorsen and Federico Puleri's blistering riffs and dazzling solos duel Lucatti's key work all overlaying Mike Terrana's beast like fills. While "Angel of Revenge" (relegated to a bonus track on the final release) is the most power metal driven track on the album, it is matched blow for blow by in intensity by "300."
Was "When All the Heroes Are Dead" worth the seven year wait on top of Fabio's departure? When you factor in the reliable musicianship and songwriting with the perfect choice of Ivan Giannini, there is no doubt that this band has never been better. The songs never lose sight of the metallic roots while drawing modern and intelligent influences, thus creating an exciting collection of songs that rarely lose momentum. "When All the Heroes Are Dead" forewarns of a time that may come, Thorsen, Lucatti, Torricini, Puleri, Terrana and Giannini are proof that some heroes are alive and well.
Label: Scarlet Records (order album here)
Release Date: October 25, 2019
1. Insurgent (Intro)
2. The 26th Machine
3. 3 Men Walk on the Moon
4. Fall from Grace
5. Were I God
6. Now That All the Heroes Are Dead
7. While the Sun Is Turning Black
8. The King of the Sky
9. On the Ides of March
11. The Nihil Propaganda
12. Angel of Revenge (Digipak Bonus Track)
Check out the video clip for "Angel of Revenge" here:
Check out "3 Men Walk on the Moon" here: