Released By: Scarlet Records
Release Date: October 25th, 2019
Genre: Power Metal
Ivan Giannini – Vocals
Olaf Thörsen – Guitars
Federico Puleri – Guitars
Andrea “Tower” Torricini – Bass
Alessio Lucatti – Keyboards
Mike Terrana – Drums
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 (Digipack Bonus Track)
I have a bit of a strange relationship with Italian power metal band Vision Divine. Unlike many, I was never too impressed by their earlier works, with the acclaimed album The Perfect Machine, in particular, failing to grab my attention. Also unlike many, the album that finally hooked me in and got me to take note of the band was 9 Degrees West of the Moon, a very light and melodic album, with some outstanding choruses and vocal melodies, as well as some nice progressive arrangements.
Following that album, the band released Destination Set to Nowhere, a heavier, more modernized album with a strong progressive feel to it. That release, in particular, impressed me and stands to date as my favorite release by the band. When I heard they had parted ways with Fabio Lione and had brought in Derdian vocalist Ivan Giannini, I was excited to see how their sound would change with him as a vocalist, as he’s become one of my favorite Italian singers in recent years. Late in 2018, the band released a single titled “Angel of Revenge”, which instantly blew me away, and raised the bar for any future releases, as well as my expectations. Now, the band is set to release their eighth full length album, When All the Heroes Are Dead, and while it falls a bit short of what I was hoping for, based on the single, it’s still an excellent album, and stands as one of the band’s better releases, for sure.
Compared to Destination Set to Nowhere, When All the Heroes Are Dead feels like a slightly more straight-forward release. It does still have traces of the prog elements found on its predecessor, as well as the occasional use of symphonic arrangments, but the songwriting is generally fairly simple, with no song going much beyond the 5-minute mark, and there aren’t any huge surprises. Instead, it’s a heavy-hitting, largely guitar-driven power metal album, with some nice sounding modern sounding keyboards, that certainly brings later Stratovarius to mind. That comparison holds up particularly well on many of the speedier tracks, which are fun, melodic and very catchy in ways that bring the Finnish band to mind, while the slower tracks are generally solid but a little bit lacking, by comparison.
The entire album is high energy, with excellent performances all around, both from long-time members like guitarist Olaf Thörsen and bassist Andrea Torricini, as well as the two new members, Ivan Giannini and veteran drummer Mike Terrana, with the latter sounding excellent no matter what band he’s with, and this album is certainly no exception. Ivan also sounds great, as always, alternating nicely between some very powerful, gritty vocals and much lighter, soaring power metal vocals, as well as singing very softly on occasion. He fits the band perfectly, and especially excels on some of the more explosive choruses, though he sounds great on softer sections as well, of course. Production is also superb, with everything sounding clear and powerful, and that is no surprise, seeing as DGM’s Simone Mularoni is responsible for mixing and mastering.
The only area where the album doesn’t fully meet expectations is the songwriting. There aren’t any weak songs here, to be sure, but I find aside from a couple of particular highlights, a lot of the album is just lacking some kinda spark, some special quality to make it stand above the pack. I mentioned “Angel of Revenge” earlier, and that song has that special something. It’s a very epic, speedy symphonic power metal track, with some very epic orchestral arrangements, heavy guitar work at times, and it’s a very bombastic track, but it also alternates nicely between some very soft sections and heavier sections, which is something it does wonderfully. Verses alternate between slow and mid-paced sections, while the chorus goes full speed ahead, and is absolutely incredible, with some very epic vocal melodies, where Ivan goes all out and sounds spectacular, especially during the final chorus, while the instrumental sections are equally excellent, with a wonderful guitar/keyboard solo sequence in the second half, and overall, it just feels like everything really came together to help make it quite possibly my favorite Vision Divine song ever. Unfortunately, that track is only a Digipack bonus, so some versions of the album don’t even have it at all, which I consider a big disappointment, as while there are some other excellent tracks on the album, nothing else quite reaches the levels of perfection that song does.
Usually I’d save the bonus track for near the end of a review, but in this case, I felt I had to bring it up early, both because of how good it is, but also because it feels like other tracks on the album try to match it, without quite getting there. In particular, “On the Ides of March” feels very similar, with some nice keys and it alternates between soft and heavy passages nicely, but it just doesn’t quite do it in a memorable way as “Angel of Revenge”. It does have an excellent, speedy chorus, though, and is still a great song, overall. Other songs that don’t quite reach the level I expect from the band are “Fall from Grace”, a solid but unspectacular mid-paced track, with more nice keys and fairly heavy verses. It’s a nice track, overall, with the verses being quite fun, but the chorus feels a bit weak, and overall, the song doesn’t leave much of an impression. Likewise, the two ballads on the album “While the Sun is Turning Black” and closing track “The Nihil Propaganda” are both nice tracks, with some big vocal moments from Ivan, but neither of them quite come together as well as they should, with the former in particular having a nice guitar solo and some great vocal moments, but it just never fully takes off and lacks anything really impressive, while the latter is a light piano ballad, which feels like it gets cut off a bit too quickly, so it isn’t really given enough space to fully develop, though what’s there is pretty nice, with some particularly soft and deep vocals from Ivan.
Moving back to the positive side of things, following a nice intro track, “The 26th Machine” is an absolute killer of an opening track, with more epic symphonic arrangements, blistering fast-paced verses, hard-hitting riffs, and an amazing chorus, with some of Ivan’s absolute best vocals on the album, while the solo section towards the end is fairly brief, but also quite excellent. Overall, it’s an extremely fast, fun and very addictive track and is probably my favorite main album track here. If that one isn’t my favorite, then it’s “300”, the second last track on the album. This one starts with some nice acoustic guitar work and nicer modern keys, before fully speeding up in time for the first verse. This is another very explosive, very heavy guitar-driven track, with some of the best riffs on the album, as well as another epic chorus, where Ivan shines, and a very fun instrumental section, where the keys bring Stratovarius to mind.
Sticking with the highlights, lead single “3 Men Walk on the Moon” is another high energy, speedy power metal track with some very melodic guitar work, as well as more nice modern keys. It slows done slightly during the verses, for more of an atmospheric feel with the keys, but then fully speeds up during the chorus. I love the instrumental work and the verses, but I find the chorus lacks any real memorable hooks, which is why I couldn’t quite put the song on the level as the above-mentioned highlights, even though it is still an excellent track, overall. In similar territory are the “almost” title track “Now That All the Heroes are Dead” and “The King of the Sky”, which are both excellent speedy power metal tracks, with great choruses. The former again goes for some softer sections during the verses, and does a nice job, but it doesn’t quite have the same magic as “Angel of Revenge”, while the latter is perhaps the most straight-forward track on the album, just going all out with heavy riffs, frantic drum patterns, epic modern keys, a fun solo section, and a very strong chorus. It’s another excellent track, that falls maybe a slight step below the best on the album, but it’ll please anyone looking for some fun, classic power metal. Lastly, while I find most of the slower tracks on this album to be solid, but unspectacular, “Were I God” is an exception to the rule. It’s a rather light, slower-paced track, with a heavy reliance on some rather melancholy keys, and it has some very downbeat verses, with a huge, catchy chorus, where Ivan provides some of his best vocals on the album. The lyrics are dark but fit the music well, and it’s very catchy, if bleak, track overall, and is a big step above all other slow-paced tracks on the album.
Overall, When All the Heroes Are Dead is another great album, which takes Vision Divine into a slightly more straight-forward, heavy-hitting direction compared to its most recent predecessor, largely cutting back on the prog elements, while fully doubling down on their classic power metal elements. This results in an album that doesn’t quite have enough memorable or special moments to make it stand out from the pack, but it’s still a consistently entertaining release, with all songs varying between solid and amazing. Fans of the band should be pleased, as Ivan Giannini fits in perfectly and does a wonderful job, while newcomers looking for some fun, speedy melodic power metal with a bit of an edge, should also find a lot to enjoy. I think Destination Set to Nowhere remains my favorite from the band, but this release isn’t too far behind, and I get the feeling they’re still capable of eventually topping that release, in the future. I just hope that next time around, the best track isn’t cut from the main album.
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.