When one thinks of countries that are a hotbed of prog metal bands, places such as Norway, Sweden, and Finland come to mind. However the Land Down Undah’ otherwise known as Australia has been churning out amazing prog metal bands for the past decade. Bands such as Hemina, Voyager, Lord, Carnivool, Caligula’s Horse, Teramaze and Melbourne’s Vanishing Point have been wowing the prog metal scene for the past decade. It’s been seven long years since the release of Vanishing Point’s The Fourth Season, but the melodic metal quintet consisting of Silvio Massaro (Vocals), Chris Porcianko and James Maier (Guitars), Simon Best (Bass), and Christian Nativo (Drums) have finally returned with their fifth studio album Distant Is The Sun on AFM Records. The band has stayed true to their unique blend of progressive, power, AOR metal and have secured the talents of Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann of Ordan Ogen for mixing duites on Distant Is The Sun. Picking up right where The Fourth Season left off, the musicianship and songwriting on Distant Is The Sun is exceptional.
The album kicks off with the short instrumental track Beyond Redemption and powers right into the first song King of Empty Promises. The double bass drum attack from Nativo and melodic keyboards lead the way and the harmonious soaring vocals during the chorus are a perfect way to officially start the album.
The title track is next and begins with a heavy groove and transforms into a light piano tinged verses with Massaro’s impressive vocals leading to a catchy and melodic chorus. The twin guitar harmony lead attack from Porcianko and Maier is a thing of beauty during the solo section.Symphonic keys signify the start of When Truth Lies, an epic slab of energetic melodic progressive metal with a driving headbanging beat. Sonata Arctica frontman Tony Kaako lends his melodic pipes to the fast and furious power metal of Circle of Fire. Kaako and Massaro’s vocals compliment each other extremely well and create an amazing metal duet.
The keyboard prominence on Denied Deliverance is pronounced in the mix but never overshadows the heaviness of the track, it just adds to the overall melody of the song. A blazing guitar solo section highlights the middle portion of another stellar song. Let the River Run has an impeccable acappella vocal harmony section that begins this mid tempo metal gem. The beautiful vocals during the chorus will be stuck in your head for days after listening.
The album slows down for the piano based Story of Misery but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a traditional power ballad. The emphasis is on POWER with a emotive vocal performance from Massaro. Era Zero speeds things right back up with a frenzied double kick attack with plenty of soaring melodic vocals throughout and a shredding guitar solo from the tandem of Porcianko/Maier and culminates in a symphonic ending and bursts right into Pillars of Sand which keeps the hard and fast metal flowing.
The eerie keyboard intro of As December Fades melds into a Maiden-esque guitar harmony and a glorious AOR sounding chorus with a symphonic element that is reminiscent of Within Temptation. A bright piano melody signals the beginning of Handful of Hope. Once again Massaro gets his chance to shine with an impressive vocal performance filled with passion and emotion. The bands penchant for writing catchy power metal is on display on Walls of Silence. The brilliant symphonic melodies and heavy guitar compliment each other perfectly. The album closes with the acoustic guitar tinged instrument titled April, an understated yet effective piece of music with a keyboard accompaniment underneath in the mix. It is a curious choice to end the album, but well done nonetheless.
After a seven-year absence, the world of melodic prog welcomes back Vanishing Point with open arms and hopefully Distant Is The Sun will shoot the band to the next level of popularity outside their native Australia. This goes to show that like a fine wine, Vanishing Point only improves with age!