Vanishing Point – Distant Is The Sun
Vanishing Point – Distant is the Sun (2014)
Reviewed by Jeff Teets
The nation of Australia has a pretty notable track record for producing great metal bands that are largely overlooked by the rest of the world. Vanishing Point is unfortunately one of those bands. Formed back in 1995, the band released four very strong albums between 1998 and 2007 on different labels, but overall remain a well-guarded secret in the underground progressive and power metal communities. Following almost seven years of silence, Distant Is The Sun seems to long-time fans of the band (myself included) to be a comeback album, but in wake of the band’s new deal with AFM records, feels more like the album that might finally give them their overdue and well-deserved break to a bigger worldwide audience.
From the album’s short-but-sweet intro track, “Beyond Redemption”, into its excellent opening number “King of Empty Promises”, one can rest assured that despite seven years away and a pair of changed band members, the band’s sound has changed very little since their well-received 2007 effort The Fourth Season. Vanishing Point’s style is virtually a cross-section of some of my favorite elements across many of the metal subgenres that I thoroughly enjoy: powerful hooks and memorable choruses, fast and energetic tempos where appropriate, heavy and aggressive rhythmic parts, subtle but noticeable progressive touches, tasteful use of symphonic elements, and a beautiful sense of darkness and melancholia that helps set the band apart from many others in the scene. Vocalist Silvio Massaro’s voice also helps distinguish the group from many of its contemporaries, with his range being a little lower overall, but making up for it with an impeccable sense of melody, and the compassion with which he delivers the majority of the vocals.
All of Vanishing Point’s superb individual facets would be relatively meaningless if they didn’t have an impeccable sense of how to tie them together in brilliantly crafted songs. It’s quite common for albums to stew about on my hard drive for quite a while before making the jump into my car’s listening rotation, but this album grabbed me from song one and had me cranking it during my drive less than two hours later. The fury of the energetic opener “King Of Empty Promises” gives way to the mid-tempo and melodic title track, “Distant Is The Sun”, which presents another excellent chorus. The band’s formula throughout the album produces a number of fast-paced tunes (The outstandingly catchy “Circle Of Fire”, boasting a guest appearance by Sonata Arctica’s Tony Kakko, and “Era Zero”), a few upper mid-tempo tracks (The excellent “When Truth Lies” and closer “Walls of Silence), a handful of more mid-tempo tunes (The aforementioned title track and “Denied Deliverance”), and a couple of ballad-like songs, such as “Let The River Run”. The album closes with “April”, an acoustically-driven instrumental much in the vein of a few of the band’s previous closers such as “A Day Of Difference” and “As I Reflect”.
If there is one minor complaint to be made about the album, it’s that it does feel a little on the long side. Fourteen tracks is a lot to digest in one sitting, even if two of the tracks are basically an intro and outro. Clocking in at over an hour long, Distant Is The Sun is of high quality throughout, but a little bit fatiguing. The band’s third album, Embrace The Silence, suffered from a similar fault, which is an unfortunate one here. It’s understandable that this happened, since every song presented is thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile in its own light, but taken as a whole, eventually it starts to get a little long-winded. Nevertheless, this is a relatively minor complaint, and one that is sure to not bother those who prefer to listen to albums either on shuffle or in a fragmented fashion. You will not find a “throwaway track” on this record.
Overall, Distant Is The Sun presents Vanishing Point at its very best, which couldn’t be better timing for the band, since this album is almost guaranteed to bring them more worldwide attention than any of their previous works. Any fan of power, progressive, or melodic metal should be equally entertained and satisfied by the combined brand of music that this band has been crafting and perfecting in semi-seclusion for years. This is quite possibly the band’s finest record to date, and will hopefully bring them the exposure and appreciation they’ve been criminally denied for many years now.
4.5 // 5