Vision - The Best Of Vision

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Lion Music
Catalog Number: LMC 2007 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:17:00

Vision were a melodic metal band, or AOR, whose line up included the prolific Lars Eric Mattsson on guitars, bass, and keyboards. The band had two distinct personalities - the first is a Southern Rock-like sound that can be best compared to .38 Special. The second is a melodic progressive metal sound that can be best compared to a Rainbow/Royal Hunt hybrid, more of the latter than the first. Topically, most of songs deal with affairs of the heart - i.e. they are love found or love lost songs. I've nothing against love songs, mind you, but often they seem a little ... sappy, especially out of the pop context. One has this muscular metal arrangement and the context of the vocals is wimpy, and the vocalists sounding needy ... they'll say anything to get a little. I'm not anti-male, mind you, but there's something a little more honest in a gruff vocalist reluctantly spilling his guts than the smoothed voice crooner singing with ease...generally speaking.

Anyway, this is about Vision, not the nature of love songs. The Best Of Vision contains both released and unreleased material from the band, though most of it is in the released category. Their debut album was released in 1992 and featured Conny Lind on vocals, Tony Mattsson on drums, Micke Ahlskog on bass and backing vocalists Randolph Reymers and Jampa Jansson. From this album, Lars Eric Mattsson's Vision, seven tracks are included on Best Of.... Their second album was never released, though in 1996 Mattsson and Reymers teamed up to record Till The End Of Time, from which we have at least five tracks. That means that the rest of the material is either from the "lost" album or otherwise unreleased material. What seems to have been material for the "lost" album are "Dying To Be Loved," "Angel In The Night," and "Before The Dawn." This latter track fits in neither mold mentioned above, as it is a classically influenced instrumental, and a rather nice one at that - pastoral. I'm sure all the strings were done by keyboards, but even still they have a nice tone and Mattsson's guitar playing is very nice, very sweet. There's a feeling of sincerity in it that isn't really felt in the vocal track. One other interesting note is that "Waiting For The Rain" is listed as "Waiting For The Night" on the compilation.

Vision was Mattsson's attempt at making music that was guitar based but not guitar centric, and in that he is quite successful, as this sounds quite different from his Mattsson project, or even his more recent Condition Red project. However, because so much of this has a "sound like" feel to it, none of it seems especially original. It's good and solid, having all the expected elements in the right place, but it also seems very safe because of it. The only way you could not like anything on this album is if you care nothing for AOR, but then those in that category probably aren't reading this anyway.

"Fields Of No Return," from 1992, has a very classic, Southern Rock sound to it, mainly in the guitars and percussion. Guitars and percussion are up front, just behind the vocals, with the bass keeping everything anchored. Think of .38 Special as there is, for the most part, a similar vibe as in .38 Special's "Caught Up In You" (1982). This kind of groove continues in "Round N' Round," which adds a '91-vintage Queensryche thing to the mix, but that is because Lind sounds a bit like Tate in tone. "Sail Away," "Set Me Free," are but two of the numerous mid-tempo ballads that dominate this release. "Surrender To Love" hears the keyboards come up more in the mix, and is the first in the running order so far to feature Randolph Reymers on vocals. As I said, Reymers on lead is the second personality of Vision (the second sight?) as the Southern Rock-ness of the music has given away to a more melodic prog metal sound, a la the above mentioned Royal Hunt. "Dying To Be Loved" is blusier, but made me think of Agents Of Fortune-period Blue ?yster C?lt. Specifically, I thought of "The Revenge Of Vera Gemini" though overall the songs sound different, there is often a similar rhythm to it. "Angel Of My Dreams" has an acoustic country-rock flavour to it at first, but then goes into a very pop direction -- oh, somewhere between Backstreet Boys and Warrant. While there is nothing to credit them as authentic, we get a brass backing of trumpets and sax, which gives this track a character very different from anything else here. It's nice but a little too poppy. "Till The End Of Time," is "blue-eyed soul," as it's termed, though I've never seen Reymers. If someone had said it was the latest from someone like Jeffrey Osbourne or the like, I wouldn't have been surprised. It really has hit adult contemporary single written all over it.

Strutting rock returns with "Angel In The Night," which during the first bit of the chorus reminds me very much of Rainbow's "Since You've Been Gone." This is one of the few places where Mattsson plays out-front guitar solos, harking back or sideways to his other projects. "Never Set Me Free" is another track with keys in a rather prominent place, fitting into the melodic prog metal ballad mold. "Out Of Love" is a track that sort of bridges the two Visions, being like a ballad that wouldn't be uncharacteristic of .38 Special, but also not uncharacteristic of Royal Hunt. The only unattractive thing about this track is a briefly heard keyboard passage during the chorus. It just seems out of place, as what's required are some very warm tones. These are very cold and synthetic sounding, which harms the sad mood of the song.

"River Of Love" is a misstep as it takes all the bad pop elements of metal and emphasizes them. It has the cheesy chorus of "Take me to the river, the river of love." Even if it's a metaphor, it's rather clumsy. But radio was once filled with hits such as these, and I'm sure that my music collection is peppered with a few that caught my ear at the time. It's a summer time song, and the chorus is catchy, but...well, it makes the rest of the album seem like high art.

Fields Of No Return (4:01) / Round 'N Round (4:57) / Sail Away (4:51) / Surrender To Love (4:23) / Open Up Your Heart (4:37) / Dying To Be Loved (3:26) / Set Me Free (5:10) / Angel Of My Dreams (3:59) / Till The End Of Time (4:31) / Angel In The Night (4:31) / Never Set Me Free (4:43) / Look In Your Eyes (3:45) / Out Of Love (4:56) / Don't Go (3:22) / River Of Love (3:52) / Waiting For The Night (6:17) / Before The Dawn (2:56)

Lars Eric Mattsson - guitars, keyboards, bass, percussion
Conny Lind - vocals (1-3, 10, 11, 14, 16)
Micke Ahlskog - bass (1-3, 10, 11, 14, 16)
Tony Mattsson -drums (1-3, 10, 11, 14, 16)
Randolph Reymers - vocals (4-9, 12, 13, 15), backing vocals (1-3, 10, 11, 14, 16)
Jampa Jansson - backing vocals (1-3, 10, 11, 14, 16)

Lars Eric Mattsson's Vision (1992)
Till The End Of Time (1997)
The Best Of Vision (2000)
On The Edge (2004)

Genre: Melodic Metal

Origin SE

Added: August 2nd 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 821
Language: english


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