Monday, January 7, 2013

Visions Of Tragedy - Visions Of Tragedy (EP) (2012)

Before you ever hit 'play' on any album, there is a wave of information that you must get through. The name of the band can speak volumes, or even give you an indication of what their sound is formed by. Visions Of Tragedy; strong, firm, deep. Then, you come face to face with the album artwork. A city in ruins, a world returning to nature. With those two pieces in place, there may be a certain level of intrigue. But what lies ahead is a mixed bag of progressive metal and sometimes uninspired prog rock from a Spanish four piece that has all the right ideas, but the wrong execution. In three tracks that span over thirty minutes, there are highs and lows, rises and falls. But on this, their debut self titled EP, the name might as well be Generic, and the album art blank.

With a strong statement, "Rebellion" is the album's opening track but may also be it's most telling. With an immediate impact made through the use of keys and synthesizers, you get a well constructed layered effect to the mix. That electronic touch is key here, anchoring a catchy if not basic guitar riff in the verse. Vocalist Javier Vidal holds his own, stacked up against a fairly massive backing band. His part is made more dynamic by the use of a great backing vocal harmony. The only stumbling block is the track length, as compared to the time it takes for the first shift. As you get to the midway point, there is an excellent collection of sound bytes and spoken word, infusing a political message into the music itself. By tackling the "occupy" movement, the band make the track more personal. But it here where things pick up, starting with some deft keyboard work. Trading licks between keys and guitar, you begin to see some of the more prominent influences shining through it all. It would be unfair to say the track, as a whole, lacks punch, but there could be a case made for a more condensed layout.

Showing a bit of versatility, there is a distinct classic prog rock vibe in "I'll Be Born Again," complete with a swaying chorus. But much like the track before it, much of the run time is consumed with simple, almost ballad-esque guitars that gain little to no strength as they go along. Minus the bridge section, which stands out from the more drab sections, you have something that is luke warm, at best, and falls short of the initial vision. Having digested the first two songs, a nearly fifteen minute closing track is a daunting challenge. The band does their best to change the overall arc of the album with an acoustic guitar intro, and a whimsical one at that. But as spacey synthesizers provide the lead in, you are right back where you started, standing in the middle of repetitive riffs and a keyboard, furnished by Andres Fernandez, that does its best to shoulder the load. But without an infusion of energy, things just begin to drag and fall flat. It isn't indicative of a band that lacks the ability to do right, but more of a band that lacks a direction. The guitar tandem of Victor Camacho and Gorka Oya show flashes of brilliance throughout an extended breakdown and bridge section, but lose their teeth when the vocals return. Without their presence, it becomes exceedingly difficult to ride this one out.

Every band in the formative years needs to establish their strengths. Figure out what you want to accomplish, and highlight what you do best. For Visions Of Tragedy, their niche is in their musicianship. On the flip side, their weakness is their inability to use that talent to create something that stands out to the average listener. Long, droning tracks may be what the new wave of bands think you need to do to be "progressive." But when you are expanding a five minute idea into a fourteen minute experience, you do both yourself, and your fans, a disservice. And more than anything, that is what plagues the thirty plus minutes of this self titled EP. The short twinkles of intense instrumentation are quickly extinguished by returns to the simple, overly structured main course. There may be more to come from this Spanish band, but their future is uncertain.


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