"High drama, hard-hitting heaviness and gentle, spine-tingling beauty." Visions Of Atlantis have proven that 'pirate metal' is much more than a silly gimmick with the epic Pirates II - Armada

Epic symphonic metal meets swashbuckling adventurousness on Visions Of Atlantis' latest album

Visions Of Atlantis
(Image: © Robert Eikelpoth (editing: Blake Armstrong))

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When it comes to metal, there’s nothing quite so groan-inducing as the word “pirates”, but for Visions Of Atlantis, spinning tales of adventure on the high seas is no mere schtick; it’s the means by which they deliver cinematic wayfaring anthems. The Austrian symphonic metal outfit have thrown everything they have at the follow-up to 2022’s Pirates, and it’s paid off. The Land of the Free and Tonight I’m Alive have air-punchingly good choruses worthy of Nightwish, while the bombastic The Dead of the Sea is the album’s blockbuster.

What’s evident on Pirates II is that, after a slightly absurd number of line-up changes, the band have hit a sweet spot with Clémentine Delauney at the helm, who positively sparkles on this record. Switching seamlessly between well-controlled belting and delectable operatics, she’s got the range and power of Anette Olzon and Simone Simons combined. Male vocalist Michele Guaitoli can more than hold his own alongside the mezzo soprano, but both of them know when to show restraint and when to soar, making for some incredibly satisfying moments. This is true on all sides: on Pirates II, the songwriting is, for the most part, dynamic and impactful, swinging between high drama, hard-hitting heaviness and gentle, spine-tingling beauty.

Like its predecessor, Pirates II does suffer from being just a hair overlong. After the fantastic Hellfire, with its addicting refrain of “Burn! Burn! Burn!” and the magnificently understated Collide, the tracks that follow, like Underwater, seem a little superfluous and pedestrian. The album’s seven-minute-long closer, Where the Sky and Ocean Blend doesn’t quite live up to its own ambition of being a Ghost Love Score-esque ‘epic’ track, paling in comparison to The Dead of the Sea. Having said that, Visions Of Atlantis are once again an impressively well-oiled machine – symphonic metal is clearly their raison d’être, and they’re damn good at it.