“Dead Elysium”

By Colonel Angus

I have always had a soft spot for prog metal but as the years have gone by, I find myself liking less and less of the output from many of the bands that fall into that genre.  There is a lot of “showing off” musically but without the great tunes that bands like DREAM THEATER, COHEED AND CAMBRIA, or EVERGREY consistently churn out.  So while many bands today don’t quite catch my ear, VANISHING POINT have managed to put out another good disk, although we have had to wait six years. 

 They first caught my attention with 2014’s “Distant Is The Sun” and that release prompted me to get their previous albums.  Since I had not heard from them in quite some time, I figured they had broken up or gone into indefinite hiatus.  Lo and behold, 2020 sees the release of their latest record “Dead Elysium” and it fits in nicely to their already impressive catalogue.  Now, the reason I stated earlier that it is “another good disk” is because while the songs are solid as ever, there is more of the same without much progression.  All of the tracks offered up have the necessary elements that make this band one of the better prog metal outfits but I was expecting more.  Don’t get me wrong, songs like “Free”, “The Healing”, and the title track are all standouts on this very solid release.  I especially like the fact that they replace prog noodling with actual songs that evoke a certain mood that goes up and down throughout the record.  

One of my favorite moments is the menacing beginning of “To The Wolves” which stands out among the rest of the tracks.  While all of the tracks have a pretty high level of quality, there are some tunes that don’t resonate with me as much as the one’s I’ve mentioned.  Given the sequencing of the album, they are spread out throughout the disk making it more of an even release instead of one of those lop-sided albums where the beginning is great and the second half get skipped over completely.

The band have had a few line-up changes over the years and “Dead Elysium” sees new members as well.  Silvio Massaro and Chris Porchianko return from the “Distant Is The Sun” lineup.  Porchianko is joined by James Maier for guitar duties and they make quite the duo.  Their performances are great and I really enjoy the soloing, especially on tracks “Count Your Days”, “To The Wolves”, and “The Fall”.  They also make sure that the songs come first without relying on weird time changes or difficult passages just to show off their skills.  The two newest recruits to the VANISHING POINT line-up are Gaston Chin and Damien Hall on bass and drums respectively.  Both are skilled players and make for a solid rhythm section.  None of the material I received stated who played all the keyboards on “Dead Elysium” but they are very pronounced in the mix and add just the right amount of mood and texture without drowning out he other instruments.

“Dead Elysium” is quite the quandary for me; on the one hand, it is a rock (metal!!) solid disk but when I compare it to previous efforts, I only rate it as good.  Had I not gotten into VANISHING POINT earlier, then I would be rating this release much higher.  I guess that is the curse of any band that makes a great album and then everything is compared to that one.  My final thoughts (and I reserve the right to change them) are that both new or old VANISHING POINT fans should get “Dead Elysium” because either way you look at it, it is still a good record.  If you had not heard of them before, you’ll probably like it even more.  I was hoping for a little more progression, but even at their worst, VANISHING POINT is still better than most of the prog metal bands out there.