Vision Divine - _The 25th Hour_
(Scarlet Records, 2007)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (7 out of 10)
Gone are the times the Italians ruled supreme in the -- mostly fantasy themed -- power metal genre. For quite a while they carried the torch higher than the Germans, but the second half of the first decade of the new millennium has not proven kind to the likes of Rhapsody and Labyrinth.

Vision Divine, formed by Labyrinth's ex guitarist Olaf Thorsen, released their first album in 1999, and they showed a renewed interest in the direction his former band was heading to with _Return to Heaven Denied_. Their previous effort _The Perfect Machine_ was indeed a fine and entertaining example of a power metal album that offered more good songs and less of the typical cheesiness of the genre. _The 25th Hour_ is a continuation of the last album and has several quality songs, albeit with less gusto and, although a good effort in its own right, ultimately it does not live up to the expectations set by its predecessor, but feels like more of the same.

That is not to say there are not enough good songs in here. "Out of a Distant Night (Voices)" is very pleasant, with a good theme and softly spoken passages in Italian. "Alpha & Omega" begins with an electronic passage straight out of Ulver's _Perdition City_ and goes on to be probably the heaviest track in the album, whereas "Eyes of a Child" is the catchiest and most memorable one. The second half of the album is less interesting and contains rather more typical of the genre songs, but there is never a bad moment.

Musicianship is of a high standard, and special mention should go to Michele Luppi's vocals, which never leave the realm of pleasant. All in all, even if it does not surpass _The Perfect Machine_, Vision Divine manage to keep their heads above the current standard of their country mates. Nothing earth shattering, but a pleasant listen nevertheless.


(article published 3/10/2007)

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