The T 666
A very entertaining if somewhat formulaic album.
Australia's VANISHING POINT play traditional by-the-book progressive metal. Longer-than-average songs, virtuosic performances, lush keyboards and pianos (even though there's no mention of any keyboardist in the booklet, not even as a guest musician), good vocal harmonies and some interesting bass lines.
But, at the same time, the band plays by the rules but never dares to break them or go too far with them. Their songs are longer than the usual metal track but never reach the 6 minute mark. Their solos are good but never dazzle the listener, neither are they really that extended. Keyboards are mostly used for background purposes. The vocal melodies are catchy but never adventurous, and the harmonies are very simple, even if they tend to sound attractive.
The main influences I can detect in this band's sound are DREAM THEATER (though not as evident as in other groups), SYMPHONY X, EVERGREY, POVERTY'S NO CRIME, and power-metal outfits like DRAGONFORCE or classics like IRON MAIDEN. VANISHING POINT, though, actually manages to have a sound of their own, even if kind of formulaic. The band has, in a way, dissected the sound of all of those influences, stripped them of much of their flashiness and pomp, and come up with a collection of songs that achieve a basic goal: entertain the listener. What this music fails to do is to captivate one's attention as there's really not much to read between the lines but what's evident and presented to us. In that matter, the closest reference for their sound would be late-EVERGREY, a band also notorious for playing the safest brand of progressive-metal (especially in their still-excellent "The Inner Circle" and their atrocious "Monday Morning Apocalypse").
And to EVERGREY we return when we want to describe the vocals of VANISHING POINT. Massaro sounds like a mix of that band's Englund with Russell Allen and, at times, a little bit of PAIN OF SALVATION's Daniel Gildenlow. Massaro's voice is fine and is pleasing, though never amazes. The same can be said of the rest of the band. The drums are played with precision but there's barely a moment when we can say we heard the musician do something really unique. The guitars are fast and the solos are very melodic, yet short and safe. The bass never tries anything out of the ordinary. Finally, the keyboards, which add atmosphere and drama to the music, aren't even acknowledged in the booklet. If one only reads it, it would seem this band doesn't include pianos or keys. But it only takes 2 seconds into the album to notice their existence (the entire opening riff of the disc is supported by keyboards(?!).
The songs are written in pretty standard verse-chorus-verse structures. The choruses are quite catchy and melodic, at times epic and heroic, and are usually the best parts of each one of the tracks. The chorus for the first song, Embodiment, is a clear example of EVERGREY's and Englund's influence on this band, at least on this record.
To sum it up, "The Fourth Season" is a good but not great album. It is saved by the good hooks of its songs which create a very enjoyable experience. I think 3 stars will do just fine.