Austrian symphonic metal act Visions of Atlantis have been around the scene for a few years, releasing one solid album after another, but their latest CD for Napalm Records, Delta, just might be the one to put them at the forefront of the genre. Sea of Tranquility Staff Writer Mark Johnson recently caught up with the dual vocal team of Mario Plank & Maxi Nil to talk about the band, new album, and future touring plans.
Welcome to the Sea of Tranquility. We appreciate the band taking time out of your busy schedule promoting your new album Delta and rehearsing for your tour, to answer some questions for your fans.
SoT - I just received Delta for review and I have to tell you I am really enjoying it. Tell us about the concept and story behind the album.
Visions of Atlantis (Mario Plank) - The basic concept of the name "Delta" is that you can understand it in many ways. First of all it is our 4th output which leads us to the number 4 in the Greek alphabet. Secondly, a delta is the place where a river meets the ocean. All its work and power is consigned to the ocean at this point.
SoT - I have been a fan for a while and have the band's "Eternal Endless Infinity", "Castaway" and "Trinity" albums, along with "Delta". It was interesting to watch the process of choosing a new female vocalist for the band. Can you tell us how you met and decided on Maxi Nil? (Great choice by the way).
Visions of Atlantis - After a long time casting and searching for singers we decided to ask Napalm if they would have some suggestions for us. After a few suggestions we found Maxi and invited her to Austria. After some overwhelming rehearsals we decided to ask her if she wanted to join VoA. She agreed and we started recording her kinds for the new album.
SoT - Maxi Nil, what was it like to leave Moonspell and your band Elysium? What were some of your favorite memories from those experiences?
Maxi Nil - First of all I want to make something clear- I was never actually a member of Moonspell. The band and I are close friends and I joined them in some shows and maybe in some others in the future and that's it. I have many good memories from them..the first time we met, the first show, it was like we knew each other for years! With Elysion (not Elysium, he, he) I really don't want to say a lot cause it's a really big story and not such a good one. I was treated unfair and I had to leave for my own good.
SoT - What are the band's favorite highlights off Delta?
Visions of Atlantis – "Memento" is definitely one of our favorite songs! It's so theatrical and epic! With this song we travel through times when everything was about pride and honor, magic and hope!
SoT - The album opens with a powerful thrust of orchestral sounding strings, keyboards, guitars and drums, before Maxi's vocals rush to the scene. It sounds like you were very excited about finally bringing this epic to your fans.
Visions of Atlantis - Since we decided to have more orchestral influence on "Delta" we felt that we really would like to have a lot going on for the listener. When the first orchestral/keyboard parts and harmonies where done we were indeed really excited to keep it going in this direction.
SoT - The drums on this album are incredible. Tell us how you create those drum effects on the opener "Black River Delta" and throughout the album.
Visions of Atlantis - Our drummer was responsible for all the drum parts. In some special parts we also use orchestral percussion elements in addition.
SoT – "Memento" opens with this cool orchestrated effect and then Maxi's voice. Just beautiful. One of the best songs on the album. The guitar solos on this and most of the songs are fantastic. How did you create those powerful chords?
Visions of Atlantis - THX. Martin just has a good feeling for catchy tunes I guess. The guitar was worked out by Werner and me during pre-production.
SoT - The piano and synths on "Where Daylight Falls" are some of the best keyboards sections of the album. How did you create that string like sound with the keyboards?
Visions of Atlantis -This sounds are created with different libraries. For live, Martin uses similar synths to play it.
SoT – "Conquest of Others" is the darkest song on the album. The opening section reminds me a little of ELP's "Mars, Bringer of War". Tell us about the concept in that section of the story.
Visions of Atlantis -This song is about the men making profit out of war. Selling weapons at both sides to make wars last longer. We wanted to create a sound between Star Wars and Conquest of Paradise.
SoT – "Elegy of Existence" almost sounds like you have included an orchestra to create the opening.
Visions of Atlantis - Well technology has reached a great level when it comes to music. And if you know how to use it you can get this great result! All the orchestral parts in Delta are written with libraries which have samples of real instruments.
SoT – One of my favorite highlights off Delta is "Reflection". This song really does a good job of showcasing Maxi's talent. Who wrote the song and where did the inspiration come from to put together this love song.
Visions of Atlantis - "Reflection" was written by Martin and we all love this song because we find a piece of ourselves in it. Inspiration came from everywhere…life is full of experiences…and I wouldn't like to say more. I want everyone who listens to this song to make his own story about it.
SoT – "Sonar" is a cool musical interlude before the finale. How did you create that short masterpiece?
Visions of Atlantis - I sat together with Marcus our orchestrator and we tried to make an intro for the story of "Gravitate Towards Fatality". It should symbolize an underwater scenery and a submarine diving down.
SoT –Tell us what it's like to create in Dreamscape Studios?
Visions of Atlantis - It's a dreamy situation! ha, ha…Everything was easy for us, we slept there, we ate there, we recorded there! From morning till the next music was all over the place! Magic! And having a producer like Jan Vacik was a present from God! Everything was in order and all of us could give the 200% of ourselves in this album!
SoT –"Eternal Endless Infinity", "Castaway", and "Trinity" seem to be more operatic and synthesizer driven. How do you compare these masterpieces with the evolution to Delta?
Visions of Atlantis - Evolution is something that has to happen in a band. If not, you better go home and do something else. With Maxi in the vocals now, we can do anything and still sound great! We needed this change and we needed to go a step ahead after 4 years of absence. Stay tuned 'cause we have many things in mind for the next album!
On "Delta", the guitars and orchestral elements have equal space, whereas on "Trinity" the guitars played the main role and on "Cast Away" the synths were more in the foreground.
Well it's only a matter of who is writing the songs I guess…and also the producer plays an important role in that. In "Delta" we all wanted the orchestral to be the leader! We felt it was right…in the next album maybe guitars will come back as main part…we will see!
SoT –Which are your favorite highlights off "Castaway"?
Visions of Atlantis - "Lost" and "Last Shut of Your Eyes".
SoT –Which are your favorite highlights off "Trinity"?
Visions of Atlantis - "Seven Seas", "Passing Dead End" and "Through my Eyes".
SoT –Which are your favorite highlights off "Eternal Endless Infinity"?
Visions of Atlantis – "The Quest".
SoT –Will "Morning in Atlantis" be re-released?
Visions of Atlantis – No since it is already on the re-release of "Eternal Endless Infinity".
SoT – "Lost", off "Castaway" was made into a video which played on MTV back in the day. Do you have any plans to make any videos for the songs on "Delta"?
Visions of Atlantis – We already have 'New Dawn' actually!
SoT - Your first concert was with one of my favorite bands Edenbridge. Can you tell us about the highlights of that experience?
Visions of Atlantis – Edenbridge and our band have a long lasting friendship since back when we were the only Austrian bands playing this kind of music. We also played a tour in China and Taiwan together.
SoT - What are your tour plans for this year?
Visions of Atlantis – We just returned from a European tour with Rhapsody of Fire. In summer we will play the big festivals such as Waken, Masters of Rock, Metal Camp, Metal Fest. In autumn we also plan to go on tour but nothing to talk about so far.
SoT -Have you begun to think about the next album yet?
Visions of Atlantis – YES!!!!But we can't talk about it yet.
SoT -Thank you for your time. We appreciate your willingness to answer these questions and wish Visions of Atlantis all of the best. Now that you're back, with a new singer, let's hope the music will flow indefinitely.
Visions of Atlantis – Maxi gave us back the faith we had lost. We promise we will bring the best out of VoA and we are ready to conquer the world!
(Click here to read our review of Delta)