Former Labyrinth guitarist Olaf Thorsen and his band Vision Divine have slowly built up a reputation as a solid progressive/power metal group who had sort of a revolving door problem with members coming and going, causing the band to be referred to merely as a side project. Once Thorsen left Labyrinth for good to concentrate solely on Vision Divine, original vocalist Fabio Leone left to spend all his time with Rhapsody. In came vocalist Michele Luppi for 2004's Stream of Consciousness on Metal Blade Records, and with that album the band seemed to solidify their line-up. Now 2006 sees the release of The Perfect Machine on Scarlet Records, and Thorsen, Luppi, guitarist Federico Puleri, keyboard player Oleg Smirnoff, and bassist Andrea "Tower" Torricini (they have recently added a touring keyboard player and drummer), have put together a powerful concept album featuring soaring vocals and keyboard passages, progressive guitar playing, and memorable melodies.
The story centers on the year 2043, and revolves around a biologist named Arnaldo Mattei, whose work with gentic code and DNA leads to a discovery of a way to get genes to never stop regenerating and repairing themselves, ultimately leading the world towards a cure for all natural diseases. This results in immortality basically, creating what humans are now called, "the perfect machine". It's a neat story, and fans of these sort of complex concept piece will have fun following along with the lyrics. Musically, this band is really finding their form, with guitars and keyboards sharing equal footing in the importance of the overall sound. The dual leads and harmonies from Thorsen and Puleri work really well together on songs like "Rising Sun" and "Ancestor's Blood", and although the riffs never get too heavy, they add enough power to the mostly symphonic arrangements. Vision Divine never go as overboard as Rhapsody does with the over the top speedy & symphonic arrangements, which is a good thing in my book. What works so well here as well is the way that singer Luppi and keyboard player Smirnoff play off each others melodic strengths. Both absolutely soar on the lovely "Here In 6048", as Luppi's vocals, which remind me of Michael Sadler of Saga meets former Styx singer Dennis DeYoung, reach for the stars alongside Smirnoff's majestic piano and synth stylings. The heaviest piece on the album is probably the raging power metal of "River", featuring pounding rhythms, chugging guitar riffs, and stabbing keyboard lines.
The Perfect Machine was produced by Timo Tolkki from Stratovarius, and for the most part is a pretty good sounding release, although the guitars could have been a little higher in the mix, especially the rhythm parts. The album overall is less heavy than I would have expected, certainly more melodic, symphonic, and progressive than many other releases in the genre. Those who like Sci-Fi/Fantasy progressive metal with tons of melody and symphonic elements would be well advised to seek this out.
1. Perfect Machine
2. 1st Day Of A Never-Ending Day
3. Ancestor's Blood
4. Land Of Fear
5. God Is Dead
6. Rising Sun
7. Here In 6048
9. Now That You've Gone