Released: 2004, Spinefarm Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
It´s been nearly 3 years since these Finnish masters of a bombastic ´neo-classical´ Heavy/Power Metal debut album saw the light of day titled SECRET VISIONS. On that particular album the band´s true song composer, heart and soul named Jaron Sebastian Raven had found relatively known guys to contribute on Virtuocity´s debut; Jaska Raatikainen from Children of Bodom was recruited for drums, Janne Tolsa from Tarot played all the keyboards and Marco Hietala was hired to do session vocals for a couple of songs on that album. Even if the album was quite badly promoted after all, it was recognized amongst small legions of both traditional Heavy - and Power Metal fans worldwide as well.
Since those times Jaron concentrated on writing new material for his band, found a new, more established line-up around him and got 12 brand new Virtuocity compositions recorded for their 2nd album titled kind of no less pompously than NORTHERN TWILIGHT SYMPHONY. Basically they continue from the very same footsteps musically where they left off on SECRET VISIONS and nothing has changed that drastically at all. “Neo-classical Heavy/Power Metal” is still strongly the name of the game here, probably even a tad more than on their excellent debut where Jaron seemed to be heavily fascinated by an Egyptian mythology. According to straightly the title of Virtuocity´s 2nd album, I feel like I don´t have to explain what kind of things he has been fascinated by on NORTHERN TWILIGHT SYMPHONY, do I (-eh!)?
Virtuocity displays a great musicianship and understanding in the world of Neo-classical Metal where similar elements that are familiar both for the early Yngwie Malmsteen albums and a modern sounding Power Metal, meet each other in a somewhat harmonious way, added with some Vivaldi –type of classical musical bits here and there (check out such songs as “Forever Young”, “Wheels of Time” and “Wings of Dawn” as references to those Vivaldi -type of parts, for example) that bring nicely their own extra spice into this well-made soup of real kick-ass songs.
The table on NORTHERN TWILIGHT SYMPHONY has basically been set for two relatively distinctive things that mostly dominate the battle fields on N.T.S., are undoubtedly Jaron´s somewhat incredible guitar mastering and Mr. Goodman´s astonishingly great vocal patterns that are nothing but entertaining to listen to. I have to admit that I personally consider Mr. P-J Goodman the 2nd best Finnish Heavy metal vocalist ever right after Marco Hietala from Tarot. Peter has got a really clear and soft yet very powerful and somewhat ´classic Heavy Metal´ ascent in his voice and his vocal parts definitely are one of the most carrying forces on the album, naturally along with Jaron´s great guitar work, of course!
Compared to the band´s debut album, NORTHERN TWILIGHT SYPMHONY is a bit lighter and may I even say, a bit more Power Metal –orientated album, too. Some of those relatively heavy guitar parts that were dominating the songs on Virtuocity´s debut album already, have been replaced by some more keyboard parts and I can also hear more blast beat parts in the songs as well that in fact can be said to be kinda typical for many bands right out from this particular genre (Stratovarius, Hammerfall, Sonata Arctica, etc.). But unlike many other bands from the Power Metal genre, the Virtuocity –dudes have been able to stay away from the biggest and most sinful clichés that you often hear to be used particularly in Power Metal, managing to sound ´fresh´ in the old times´ fashion and reaching something vital musically that could be said belongs to them and for them only.
If you are totally fed up and bored with the current Power Metal scene, then Virtuocity may have something different to offer to you musically than just those typical high-pitched screams and constantly pounding double drum attacks that tend to go like a bullet train and only making you deaf in the end. I guess it´s more your loss if you won´t check them out...