REVIEW: Visions of Atlantis – Pirates II – Armada       

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Austrian symphonic metal band VISIONS OF ATLANTIS is back with fresh sea shanties for everybody to enjoy as the follow-up to 2022’s “Pirates,” simply entitled “Pirates II – Armada,” is slated for a July 5th, 2024, release via Napalm Records. The album comes just in time to delight the crowds at the many European festivals pirate queen Clémentine Delauney, brave captain Michele Guaitoli, and their crew of fearless sailors are playing at this summer.    

Picking up where they left off with their previous album, “Pirates II – Armada” sees the band continuing to sail the waters of symphonic metal with grace while sprinkling in some folk and power metal elements that make the listening experience feel more lively and jaunty this time around. As such, expect the songs to be very well grounded into the trappings of the genre but still sounding fresh and energetic with plenty of hooky choruses and sing-along melodies. First single released, “Armada,” already showcased that they can write a banger of a track with a great, driving melody, choirs, and a rich soundscape, detailing the thrilling life of a band of pirates but without ever sounding like a parody. Second single, “Monsters,” is a more straightforward and upbeat number that will surely make for a killer addition to their setlist, as it has that raw energy that will keep the crowds singing along and/or headbanging to its infectious rhythms.

After a rather minimalistic and brooding intro, “To Those Who Choose to Fight,” which only boasts faint percussions, delicate backing arrangements, and some melancholic vocals from Clémentine Delauney, the album gets going with anthemic “The Land of the Free” leading the charge with its groovy rhythms, symphonic accents, and melodic chorus. Third single, “Tonight I’m Alive,” is the one that really gets the party going with its enchanting folky melodies that pair really well with the album’s theme while showcasing a new and intriguing facet of VISIONS OF ATLANTIS’s expansive soundscape. The 7-minute epic “The Dead of the Sea” follows in the footsteps of “Master the Hurricane” as it offers cinematic backing orchestrations and swelling strings that only enhance the vocal dynamic between Clémentine Delauney and Michele Guaitoli while the drumming and guitar work keep the momentum going and make it feel less lengthy than it actually is.

Celtic-infused yet mournful “Ashes to the Sea” offers a nice respite and makes for a neat transition to the album’s second part where the pirates’ party continues with the uplifting anthems “Hellfire” and “Collide,” which will also make for killer addition to the band’s setlist with their incredible energy, high tempo, simple but effective melodies, and great interplay between the two vocalists. Mid-paced melodic delight “Magic of the Night” is one of my personal favorites on this album as it boasts a charming folky ambiance, beautiful melodies, and a poppy chorus that is bound to get stuck in your mind. Proper ballad “Underwater” is the album’s most beautiful moment and emotional moment, driven by Clémentine Delauney’s delicate vocal delivery and some gentle orchestrations that only intensify as the track progresses to crescendo into an intense final chorus run. The album closes with another 7-minute epic track, “Where the Sky and Ocean Blend,” which encompasses all the best elements of their soundscape from the symphonic metal accents and cinematic atmosphere to the vocal harmonies between Clémentine Delauney and Michele Guaitoli, and the soaring chorus. The track makes for a rather fitting end to this collection of jaunty sea shanties.       

By combining folk and power metal elements with a strong symphonic metal backbone, “Pirates II – Armada” is an adventurous and spectacular album that takes the piracy theme that VISIONS OF ATLANTIS developed on their previous releases to new heights with twelve tracks that are worthy of the Jolly Rogers. This is a great example of the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ as they don’t really do anything new on this record, yet the end result feels fresh, varied, and highly enjoyable as the formula not only works wonderfully but also allows the band to incorporate different elements into it and thus expand the album’s sound design. Couple that with the gorgeous voices of Clémentine Delauney and Michele Guaitoli and a polished production by Felix Heldt (with the mixing and mastering done by the renowned Jacob Hansen) and you have yourself a great symphonic metal album with an immersive atmosphere to boot.

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

  1. To Those Who Choose to Fight
  2. The Land of the Free
  3. Monsters
  4. Tonight I’m Alive
  5. Armada
  6. The Dead of the Sea
  7. Ashes to the Sea
  8. Hellfire
  9. Collide
  10. Magic of the Night
  11. Underwater
  12. Where the Sky and Ocean Blend

Lineup

  • Clémentine Delauney – Vocals 
  • Michele Guaitoli – Vocals 
  • Christian Douscha – Guitars 
  • Herbert Glos – Bass 
  • Thomas Caser – Drums

Label

Napalm Records

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