ALBUM REVIEW: Visions of Atlantis – Pirates

If you’re looking for a metal album about pirates this summer that you can listen to guilt free (what? I meant now that we’re all mature enough to not worry about calling things like this a guilty pleasure… honest guv!), you need look no further than Visions of Atlantis’ eighth full-length album, the rather bluntly and descriptively titled Pirates (Napalm Records). 

All joking aside, while this isn’t a pirate metal album (though ‘Mercy’ certainly has a nautical, piratical joie de vivre to it), it is a damn fine metal album about pirates, with the Austrian five-piece enjoying creating a narrative and an anchor around which to wrap their quality symphonic (with liberal doses of power) metal. 

If Visions of Atlantis, despite their lengthy catalogue, are something new to you, let’s get it out there early – there will be comparisons to Nightwish. On opener ‘Pirates Will Return’, within two minutes Clémentine Delauney has moved from Anette Olsen mid-ranged vocals to a glorious controlled higher Tarja register, and Michele Guaitoli (also Temperence) has added a male voice, all with bombastic stabs and swirls underneath, and ‘Clocks’ could have been smuggled off Imaginaerum. But these are comparisons, and, along with references to Kamelot, Avantasia, Amaranthe (mainly in the chorus melody selections) and Amberian Dawn, act as a guiding light only. VoA are, and have been for quite some time now, their own entity; proven most elegantly by second track the uplifting ‘Melancholy Angel’ with its dancing keyboard monogram, vocal interplay, emotive bridge and memorable chorus, a track that fulfils the criteria of defining VoA.

‘Master The Hurricane’ is an impressive dynamic tour-de-force, building from brooding keys to orotund symphonic instrumentation, adding dramatic choirs and a powerful arms-wide-open, epic chorus, before the song plays along with the drama of mother nature as we find peace in the eye of the storm, as cellos and gentle instrumentation allow Delauney to walk us back into a rousing climactic return to the chorus. Indeed, Delauney is the ring-master throughout; powerful (and channelling her inner Sharon den Adel) on ‘Darkness Inside’, delicate on ‘Heal The Scars’, playful on ‘Freedom’, convincing and confident elsewhere with a warmth to her euphonious voice; always commanding and holding the attention, interplaying in a most narrative and engaging fashion with Guaitoli. Also taking a leading light are the orchestrations, here the responsibility of composer and audio engineer Lukas Knoebl, and added to by Ben Metzner (Feuerschwanz), a glorious embellishment, successful in fully bringing the Atlantis universe to technicolour life. 

One of the biggest compliments to pay Pirates is that, while ‘Melancholy Angel’, ‘Legion Of The Seas’ and coup de maître ‘In My World’ – a song that sees Metzner’s flute coltish alongside the multiple twist and whorl earworms of  a song that builds to a galleon-sized chorus – are probably the gold in Davey Jones’ locker, VoA could take any, or all, of the twelve tracks and drop them into their live set with no loss of quality. Pirates is a most glorious adventure that mixes symphonic, power and melodic metal with confidence, craft, excellence of execution and joy. 

Buy the album here:

8 / 10