VITNE’s music has influences ranging from 80’s glam metal and power metal, to folk and classical RPG-soundtracks. His latest concept album “Aria”, was written, to sound and feel, beginning to end, like the experience of a Japanese-style epic RPG. While I have always been a fan of VITNE’s off-the-rails creativity and complexity, I find their songwriting to be at its strongest on this album. Overall, “Aria” is the most balanced, enjoyable, accessible, and striking recording by VITNE yet. Realistically speaking, he is no stranger to any style of music within the rock idiom, but this is a plainly unique release, a considerable achievement given the wide-reaching style spanning VITNE has done in the past. However, it still retains the wholly captivating sound that he has pioneered over the course of the last few years.
VITNE (Lead and backing vocals, flute, fife, guitar, bass, piano, orchestration, production), Julian Angel (Lead guitar) Nigel Rios (Drums) and Max Saidi (Drums on “Fever Dream” & “Vanquish the Night”), have an ability to barge through all preconceived notions of song structure and sound, by virtue of sheer kinetic energy and a maddening splurge of ideas.
The instrumentation which oozes awesomeness from start to finish, is achieved via a certain craftiness of hand and mind. The players’ technical highs are preposterously stunning, and their servings of some utterly incredible moments casts an aura of brilliance over a whole record.
“Aria” typifies VITNE’s adventurous forward-thinking approach, and encompasses racy rhythms, lyrical melodies, epic themes, soaring vocals and harmonies, organic instrumentation, scorching chord progressions, virtuoso guitar solos, melting-pot song structures, and crushing drum patterns, which are all characteristics of their sound.
What makes “Aria” special is the hard rock influence which is characteristic of all the band’s work. This comes through in the album’s rockier passages, which have a real sense of purpose, and demonstrate a unity of focus and collective effort.
At times, melodies unfold by twists and turns which are breathtaking, and at other times, they burst out of the box immediately, and are capable of mesmerizing any listener within earshot. On the whole, the album is for those who believe fervently that rock needs more ambitious deviants.
The album starts quietly with the piano and strings driven “Whispers of Another World”, before exploding with the bone-crushing “Escape”, where the high-flying choruses and guitar runs, breathe menacingly down the back of your neck. Moving forward, the rhythms, melodies, and arrangements just get more interesting with every listen.
“Turn Back Time” and “Encephalon” keeps the momentum going with chunky riffs, explosive shredding and anthemic choruses that are hard to resist. A point of note is VITNE’s vocals, which are nothing short of spectacular all throughout this album – the highs, the lows, and even the ultra-high passages are treated with equal domination.
Moreover his songwriting brims with originality and extreme creativity. “Fever Dream” drops the rhythm section and rides on pure melody for the opening, before switching up into crunch mode, loading all the band’s firepower. “Ascension” will take you on a mesmerizing voyage into another dimension. The sheer musicality lifts you right up and puts you in the story.
From the opening notes of this album, the listener knows they’re in for something far outside of the ordinary. And it only gets better and better from there. Going through the quieter sections of “Horizon” brings to the Yes-flavored rocker, “Our Way”, and then onto the eloquent and stripped down “Nocturne”, dominated by a combination of piano and vocals.
“Vanquish The Night” and “Requiem” takes us back to the brimstone and fire, of the solid euphoria VITNE and company are capable of unleashing. In closing, “Aria” is the whole package – not concept over technique, technique over emotion, or emotion over substance. It is simply uncompromising in its artistic integrity. This is a fantastic, flawless album which is also, so far, my favorite rock record for 2019.