|Review: Vision Divine - Stream Of Consciousness|
|Stream Of Consciousness|
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2004
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Review online: December 14, 2010
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
for:Stream Of Consciousness
Rated 4.74/5 (94.74%) (19 Votes)
This is an album I have revisited many times, as no matter what my mood is it can always uplift and spellbind me with its brilliance. As far as the Prog-Power movement goes, I've yet to find something as coherent and well-formed as this, and not only did Vision Divine make the best record of its kind here, they followed it up with two blinders, making them one of the strongest bands to emerge in this style. It was no one-off, let me tell you. Olaf Thorsen was smoking the right stuff when he came up with this thing, and if you thought he'd said everything he wanted to with Return to Heaven Denied, be prepared to think again.
After making two decent records with Rhapsody warbler Fabio Lione (who is now back in their ranks), the Italians set the wheels in motion to create their finest work, the first with world renowned (but then unknown) vocal coach Michele Luppi. What they did with Stream Of Consciousness was perfectly unite the emotional and technical aspects of Progressive Metal with the melody, pace, and drive of melodic Power Metal, and while it has its Labyrinth moments, it doesn't really sound like them, but rather like a more intelligent and soulful unit that has stretched the confines of that template. A concept record about religion and self-discovery sounds dull, but Vision Divine make the subject matter come alive with plenty of moody set-pieces between the songs, which are all way above the usual standard. In fact, there aren't any bad tunes on here, with every riff, melody, and time change having something special and substantial about it. What helps this become so timeless is the production; it's condensed to the right level, but it has a dark, spectral quality that gives all the instruments breathing space. Michele Luppi is known for his gigantic range, but he reached his peak with Stream Of Consciousness; every vocal line is pushed out with such power and emotion you can't help but be moved. During songs like "The Fallen Feather" and "Versions of the Same" (which is one of the finest tracks on here), his performance is totally unrivaled.
Like I said, there are no weak moments, but there are highlights, and these come in all shapes and sizes, from the reflective "Colours Of My World" to "La Vita Fugge", which really is one of the best Power Metal songs I've ever heard, riding into the sunset with blistering guitar/keyboard interplay and a chorus so catchy you will never forget it. "Shades" is an ass-kicker, too, and "Out Of The Maze" will make your head spin. The keys are used with intelligence to enhance the riffs, rather than overpower them, and Thorsen himself plays excellently, with heavy yet tight precision. As an album, this has monumental flow, and from the moment it begins you are swept into their dark and romantic world, a place you'll revisit, like me, over and over.
Fact is, if you're a fan of Prog or Power Metal, this is an absolute must. If you like both genres colliding like flaming planets and you haven't heard this, well, let's just say the next thing you'll be doing is thanking me. A superlative album all the way.
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