Saturday, May 3, 2014

Vanishing Point - Distant Is The Sun

Vanishing Point
Distant Is The Sun
Surreal Records/Rockstar Records

Despite being around for close to twenty years (The band formed way back in 1995), Melbourne (Victoria) based outfit Vanishing Point aren’t quite the household name they should be, given the consistency of their output in that time. While there’s no doubting of their highly regarded place within the Australian progressive/power metal scene alongside fellow outfits Black Majesty and Eyefear, it’s the band’s continued line-up changes and the lengthy gaps between releases that has at times been to the band’s detriment in keeping their name in the minds of followers outside their diehard fan base. So it comes as no surprise to see the band return after a seven year absence with ‘Distant Is The Sun’, which is their long awaited follow-up to 2007’s ‘The Fourth Season’ and only their fifth full-length release overall.
As expected, some changes have been made since they last graced listeners with something new, with vocalist Silvio Massaro, guitarist Chris Porcianko and drummer Christian Nativo the only surviving members from all those years ago. Joining the trio this time around is Drop Forged guitarist James ‘Bushy’ Maier and ex-Envenomed bassist Simon Best. And as you would expected, the new line-up assembled has had its effect on Vanishing Point’s sound on the new album.
The album opens up with the short ‘Beyond Redemption (Intro)’, which sees the band incorporate piano and spoken word samples into a dramatic introductory piece that seamlessly moves into the follow-up track ‘King Of Empty Promises’. If there’s one track that sums up everything that Vanishing Point stands for in the musical sense, it’s this one. Fast paced, and fusing elements of progressive and power metal perfectly, ‘King Of Empty Promises’ is hard hitting, epic sounding (Again, Porcianko’s underlining orchestral mix of keyboards and choral effects help emphasise the heavy guitars and drumming efforts) and extremely catchy (Courtesy of Massaro’s impressive vocals and melodies).
The title track ‘Distant Is The Sun’ sees the band slowing things down a little, but still manage to pack a punch on the groove front. Once again, Massaro really impresses on the vocal front with a killer chorus, while Teramaze guitarist Dean Wells provides the song with an inspired guest solo performance.
Despite the orchestration sounding a little too heavy handed in places, ‘When Truth Lies’ is a solid number with some well crafted melodies, while ‘Circle Of Fire’ sees Massaro teaming up with Sonata Arctica vocalist Tony Kakko on what is honestly an O.K. track, but far from a highlight on the album.
The real shining moment on the album can be found in ‘Let The River Run’. Sounding a little out of place on the album with its ‘80’s hard rock/heavy ballad vibe, ‘Let The River Run’ is hands down the album’s catchiest tune (A credit to Massaro once again), and something you wouldn’t normally expect from Vanishing Point. And that’s a good thing.
Another favourite is ‘Denied Deliverance’, which sounds uncannily like Evergrey (Especially on the vocal front), while the powerful ‘Pillars Of Sand’, the mid-paced ‘As December Fades’ and the Evergrey like ‘Walls Of Silence’ are the definitive picks from the latter half of the album.
But despite the strength evident within ‘Distant Is The Sun’, it does have its flaws. Much like Vanishing Point’s last couple of releases, this new album is a little bloated. With the front of the album boasting some really strong tracks, it’s inevitable that some weaker efforts towards the tail end would stand out. At fourteen tracks, the band could have easily dropped a couple of tracks, which would have given the album a little more consistency.
But despite its issues, ‘Distant Is The Sun’ is once again another strong album for Vanishing Point, and one that diehard fans will no doubt find worth the waiting for.

For more information on Vanishing Point, check out - http://www.vanishing-point.com.au/

© Justin Donnelly