|Review: Virtuocity - Secret Visions|
Label: SpineFarm Records
Year released: 2001
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: December 1, 2007
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Rated 4.08/5 (81.67%) (12 Votes)
Jarno Keskinen is a strange fella. Not content with his numerous contributions to the Power Metal scene in one minor form or another, he seems to be continuously changing his name along with the members of his outfit. The artist formally known as Jarno Keskinen - now Jaron Sebastian Raven - is a name most will know from neo-classical prog metallers KenZiner, but these days he focuses his well-earned efforts on Virtuocity, a band that somehow eludes the old adage 'a band is a band is a great band'. Or whatever.
The good points first: this is a classy, well produced, expertly performed album of fast, shiny Power Metal in the mould of Stratovarius, Dreamtale and Magic Kingdom that is easy to digest, and leaves you rather satisfied. Keyboard heavy, "Secret Visions" can be a bit on the light side at times, which is usually a benefit to bands of this nature, but when Keskinen tries to kick things up a notch, we find that the power evident on both KenZiner records is sadly absent, creating a dull, innocuous void. I've never been a fan of guest vocalists - no matter how great they are - so surprisingly the appearance of Finnish metal legend Marco Hietala on a number of tracks really grated on me, partly because he performs the belting opener "Eye For An Eye", which disrupts the proceeding tracks somewhat as the vocalist Keskinen has employed full time - Peter James Goodman - actually has a much smoother delivery that would have been most welcome. Children of Bodom skin-master Jaska Raatikainen lays down some typically outstanding drum work and Keskinen, sorry, Raven, handles the guitars admirably, giving us a tasty recitation of neo-classical fretboard wankery and self-indulgent spotlight soloing.
The only real bad point surrounding this release is the fact that it all sounds so contrived; there isn't any stand out track, with each one either taking the pedal to the metal approach with fully blown symphonics and battering double kick drums, or the heavy, mid-paced At Vance tactic of storming intro, quiet verse, then semi-catchy 80s chorus. Nothing unfamiliar for KenZiner MK 2, but a decent album none the less. Which is, ironically, the closest Keskinen will ever get to making a quality Power Metal record.
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