Vanishing Point - _The Fourth Season_
(Dockyard 1, 2007)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (8 out of 10)
If Dream Theater are a bit extravagant for your taste, yet you cringe at power metal's inability to sound remotely interesting as of late, then Vanishing Point's latest should be right up your alley. Aptly named, _The Fourth Season_ is the fourth full-length release from these Australians, and easily their best. If you have followed them throughout their career -- which has spanned over a decade --, despite frequent member changes their output has been constantly improving. Yet, even though their previous two records received glowing reviews and were indeed good albums, they still did not sound mature enough to capture me.

This all changes with _The Fourth Season_, which is not only an excellent progressive metal release by any standards, but also a surprisingly deep, involving and, ultimately, mature album. Keeping it much shorter than previous albums at around fifty minutes, all the fat has been trimmed. Another notable difference is that they upped the overall tempo of their music, which makes the songs more interesting in their contrasting fast and soft passages. Less than progressive rock and more like progressive metal this time.

Bringing together elements of bands like Nightwish, Savatage and Dream Theater to name a few, _The Fourth Season_ still has its own personality, imbued by a tremendous performance by vocalist Silvio Massaro and attention to detail by the rest of the members. It is highly melodic, but also has frequent tempo changes, engaging orchestration and slightly fuzzy rhythm guitars. By keeping the songs a bit shorter this time, they sound more focused and in control. Songs like the heavy hitting "Hope Among the Heartless" and "Behind the Open Door" easily stand out, but there is not a single song in the album that is not interesting in one way or another.

Special note should be given to closing track "A Day of Difference", a supremely effective wrapping up of an already impressive album. With an introspective calm guitar melody, Silvio's deep vocals and an engrossing spoken word passage by Peter O'Toole from the movie "Man of La Mancha", this is simply a beautiful and thought-provoking ending.

If you like the band's catalogue, it's a no brainer that you will like this one too, since it is definitely their best. Regardless though, this is a highly recommended album, especially if you like the genres involved, but also want some skill and originality in your soundscapes. Here is hope that their best is still to come.


(article published 15/8/2007)

3/13/2001 A Bromley 7.5 Vanishing Point - Tangled in Dream
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