Vision Divine

These Italians took their time and got back with their best album to date! Vision Divine is no stranger to the fans of melodic heavy/power metal music and certainly, lots of them had been waiting for such a strong release. The guys actually did it. Thus, the mastermind/producer/songwriter/guitarist Olaf Thörsen, told Grande Rock which were those factors that led to their releasing such a captivating album… read below for more…

Hi Olaf… I wanna show you gratitude for Vision Divine’s newest album. It seems that you finally made it. You did release the band’s best album to date…
O: Thanks a lot! You make me proud, ‘cause I know every band probably states the same every time they release a new album, but this time I really mean it and I’m really happy to see that everybody (fans and magazines) are thinking the same about it.
It’s obvious you took your time and gave the proper attention to all the parts so as to come up with such a strong release, right?
O: Yes, indeed. It took more than one year to write and record this album. We felt this release was important to us, ‘cause in case of a failure, who knows, we could have even decided to say “thanks and goodbye”. We needed an album to state that the best has yet to come. We didn’t leave anything to the fate, but we worked hard in order to make everything match perfectly in terms of the overall sound and in order to make every song possibly sound different, but at the same time to give the album a could be a sort of manifest of our sound and style. In 2012 you can hardly invent something completely new, but you can still work hard in order to mix all the influences and genres you like in order to strengthen your style and be recognizable by the fans out there. That’s what we are trying to do and to improve, album by album.
Three years after “9 Degrees West of the Moon”, some things changed and you wanted to go on, as I can tell. What are those things that changed for the better?
O: In one word: the producer, ahah! Seriously, “9 DWotM” is a great album, and I absolutely believe it has some of our best songs ever, but when you write an album it’s not only about writing good songs: you must also make them sound properly and I am not simply talking about a good guitar sound, I am talking about giving them the right production, which means choosing the right balance between instruments, choosing the right instruments to be used in a particular song ( acoustic, electric etc…). If you don’t do this at its best, there is no song which could shine as it was supposed to, of course.
Do you want an example? Ok, try listening to that album and tell me: do you hear any clean or acoustic guitar? Now try listening to “Destination Set to Nowhere” and remove all the clean guitars you hear in the songs and tell me: would it sound different? That’s what I mean and this is in the hands of a producer: to choose the best sound, instruments and arrangements for a song and for the whole album.
(i.n.: Yeap, I got it dude… you’re damn right)
The album did exhale a freshness and power that takes you by surprise from the very first moment. I kinda feel you enjoyed it a lot and had more autonomy than before, to do it your way… is that right?
O: Absolutely. I produced this album ‘cause I was kinda “sick” of paying other people in order to produce my music the way I was not willing to hear it, ahah!
Working the way we did now gave us the chance to do everything the way we wanted, but don’t take me wrong: there is a reason why usually you need a producer, as it’s really a tough job to focus on an album in 2 different ways, as a musician and as a producer. It drains your brain and you always risk losing the point and stop being “neutral” when it comes to the moment where you must choose what to cut and what to keep. We made it very well, but trust me: it’s been very hard. I already produced other albums like “The Perfect Machine”, “Return to Heaven Denied pt1 and pt2”, “Cydonia” and many others, but I’ve always been together with other people, be them sound engineers, producers or whatever. This time we were completely alone.

So, by setting your destination to Nowhere… where can it actually lead you? To a new unspoken territory… to a new world… to a new life… I think we all need that in times such as these…
O: Ahahah who knows. The album is an allegory and the travel out in space searching for a new and better world is the representation of a travel into our inner soul in search for our own best. There cannot be any better world, if first we don’t try to be better ourselves in first person. (i.n.: That’s so true dude…)
I can tell that this spacecraft on the cover artwork is heading to new worlds… new Stars… huh? Maybe, that’s what’s needed so as to keep going on as humanity…
O: As I just told you, there cannot be any better world. We are the ones who make a world better or worse. So far we only have this one we’re living in, and I guess we should stop complaining about how bad the others are and start thinking about how bad WE are. We should wonder if we all really are good people as we think. Not so many people would say “I’m horrible” and surely they are not, but still they do nothing to make this world be better, so why should we expect the others to do more than what we do? It’s a chain, to which we are all connected. (i.n.: We have actually forgotten our human side…)
Hence, before you talk about the songs… what’s that space epic saga that the album talks about?
O: I tell the story of a man who’s so sick of this world, ruled by politicians, banks, wars, hate, that he takes the decision to build a spaceship (an ARK) and leave together with all those other people who think the same way he does. Together, they will try finding a new world and they will make it better than the one they are leaving… They will find a new planet, but he will realize things are not the way he was dreaming, ‘cause humans have their own nature, and there is no new world to be found like a new Eden.
And if we break it down to song by song then…
O: “S’io Fosse Foco”: That’s an ode from the middle age. It starts with “if I were fire I would burn the world, if I were water I drown it down…” It represents the disgust of the main character for the world he’s about to leave.
“The Dream Maker”: He presents himself to the other people who decided to leave, like a dream maker, trying to make their dreams come true.
“Beyond the Sun and Far Away”: The spaceship is leaving earth and people in the ark look at what once was their home for the last time.
“The Ark”: The travel in space has started, and it will be a very long roam, hoping to find a new home, one day. The spaceship has a computer named Elpis, which in the ancient Greek it was the name of the goddess of hope…
“Mermaids from Their Moons”: The travel is so long, there is no certainty to find another planet where to live, and people slowly falls into some depression. The captain of the ark is feeling he’s losing his sanity and he feels like a modern Ulysses in search for home. At night he even thinks to hear mermaids, calling him from every planet they are passing by, trying to make him land a wrong and dead satellite.
“The Lighthouse”: One morning (if we can call anything “morning”, out in space) he wakes up excited, telling all the people about a dream he just had, in which somebody like an angel or a child shown him the direction where to find the home they’ve been searching for so long. They all see a strange light in the far horizon, brighter than all the other ones, and they decide to try.
“Message to Home”: They finally found the planet and they start leaving the ark with their capsules. The captain leaves as the last one, but before shutting Elpis down he feels like writing a message on paper , to put in a bottle, like the old mariner were doing in the ancient times, and to shoot it in the direction of Earth, like a sort of a last goodbye.
“The House of the Angels”: The planet looks like a new Eden. It’s full of green, water, animals, and it’s all pure and intact. It really looks like the house of the angels.
“The Sin Is You”: Just a few years after the arrival, unexpectedly, people are experiencing the same old problems they thought they had left behind on Earth: greed, envy, fights for raising borders and defining properties, crimes… The old captain realized there is no way out of the problems we had on Earth, ‘cause the Evil is a side of our own souls and it will follow us wherever we may go. It’s part of our own inner nature.
“Here We Die”: Like a sort of curse, he screams at his companions who are screwing what was supposed to be an Eden. They will all die there, living the same way they were living on Earth.
“Destination Set to Nowhere”: The old captain finally takes a capsule and decides to go back alone to the Ark. He turns Elpis back, and asks it to turn the engines on and to leave. When Elpis asks for the new coordinates for the trip, he just answers: “destination set to nowhere”.
How did you come up with the idea to re-record some old songs and release them as a bonus CD on the deluxe edition of the album? How did you choose to cover “Gutter Ballet”?
O: Edel was so happy about the final result with the new master they had, that they called us back and asked us about the chance to release a sort of “limited edition” to be released with the new album, which could include some old songs taken from our previous albums. They would also have liked the songs to have the same production of the new album, so we should have re-recorded them. Of course we accepted, and we also decide to include “Gutter Ballet”, which is a song we all love and played in the past. We always released a cover, as that’s our last way to still feel like “fans”, and this time it was just the turn of Savatage.
The production is also great in every aspect. You did an amazing work indeed. So, you finally took the responsibility for the mixing, the recordings, the production and the mastering of the album?
O: Thanks a lot man! Yeah, I took the responsibility of producing this album in every aspect of its making. It’s been mixed and mastered at Domination Studios by Simone Mularoni, according to our needs and requests. He did a very superb job. (i.n.: The album has indeed an excellent production)
video pic
What were the first thoughts you had in mind before you started working on “Destination Set to Nowhere”? What did you want to achieve with this album? Did you make it in the end?
O: We just wanted this album to be the best of our career. There was no other option, and everything should have been just as much perfect as we could (we know there is no real perfection). This album was like an answer to ourselves, in order to understand if we can still push and get more from the music we like to write, or if maybe we just started the bad cycle like those bands who just repeats themselves doing similar albums, with sometimes good sometimes bad songs. We wanted an album to be completely satisfied with, and we absolutely made it. (i.n.: Thankfully, you did it cool)
I saw the video for “Mermaids from Their Moons” a couple of days ago. Was it the first song you wanted to release as a video? Are there gonna be any other videos in the future?
O: Yes this is the first official video we ever released, simply because I always believed that if I should release a low quality video, then better not to do anything. In the past we had some video made by fans (i.e. “The Daemon you Hide”), but nothing official. We are thinking about the chance to release another video soon, we are just checking about the chances of having another high quality result.
Thus, what are the touring plans for 2012/2013?
O: We’re working on this right now, so it’s a bit too early to know, but there are some good chances, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.
I’ve written: “… “Destination Set to Nowhere” is surely the band’s top moment up to now. I feel like the band is having a second youth or something… entering this new decade with freshness, vigor & will to go on even further”… Do you agree with that?
O: Well, I must of course thank you for the nice words! I dunno if this is a second youth, we are not that old after all ahah! Honestly, I feel like a band who always tried to give its best, in any album we realized and most of the times we did it. Some bands explode at their first album, immediately, some others never do, some others like us at times exploded and other times they didn’t take the “next step” and they’re still waiting. I think there are no real “faults” or reasons. This is a tough moment with the market, where the only bands still at the top are mostly the same old ones from the past. I am absolutely proud of my material, of my songs, of my albums and of my mates and I am sure that this band has nothing to envy anybody. We reached a good status, most of the metal listeners know our name, and even those who simply heard about our name, usually respect us once they have the chance to hear some songs from us. I guess we can only be proud of that.
My beloved song from the album is: “The Sin Is You”, which, I think, has a “gothic” touch. What do you think? Are there gonna be any other songs like this one in an upcoming release?
O: Ahah! Thanks a lot. I dunno if “gothic” is a word which can be used to describe our music, but I can understand what you mean. Actually there was another song in that style, in our previous album, titled “Violet Loneliness”. (i.n.: Only this song has that “gothic” touch… of course your music is not gothic or has anything to do with that cheeky)
What’s happening with your other music projects? Is there gonna be any new Labyrinth album in the future? Any other news?
O: We dunno. We’re working to some new material, but like I did with Vision Divine, it will take the time it needs and then we will see what to do, once we feel we have the best material (and only IF we feel like that). There is no need to rush if it means to release low quality material, I guess. With all the releases we have every week, I guess most bands should follow our example. (i.n.: Sure, I wish they do so… we need better albums and fewer releases every week…)
I believe that heavy/power metal has come to end. It’s like the bands are copying one another and there’s no freshness around… it’s like a never-ending circle. What does that music need and require so as to go strong as it used to be a couple of decades ago?
O: I agree with you and I said that something like 10 years ago, already. Music just needs what it always needed: some fresh material, some fresh bands. The cycle needs to be stopped, somehow, but I guess it’s stopping by itself, as the market has already been killed. Once again, the fault is ours: too many labels released and still are releasing poor quality bands, with low quality songs, with no innovation at all and no meaning at all to be into the market. The most horrible thing is, at times, to be considered one of these bands, as maybe some people now don’t know or don’t remember that I as Labyrinth started playing this music while still a teenager in mid-90s and without willing to sound arrogant, I actually did a couple of albums which are still nowadays considered to be quite important for a kind of movement of the “European Metal”. Maybe I am not Metallica, but I guess I have more rights to play the music I do much more than most of the newest bands out there. (i.n.: Spot-on, “Return to Heaven Denied” is a great album…& UI also got it when I was a teenager… still enjoy it up to this day…)
What do you think of the Internet as a means of promotion & distribution? On the other hand, it is also a way for people to get music illegally and free. What’s the right way to control it so as not to lose time & money as a musician/band?
O: Internet was a very good invention, but people just found the way to use it in order to illegally steal music from the bands. I don’t care if someone says that thanks to internet more bands had the chance to be known. This is 1% of the cases, while the other 99% gets stolen on a daily base. There are enough samples out there, to check a band out and decide if you like their music or not. Downloading a full album (in a very low quality) is not a good excuse. (i.n.: I’ve been telling that thing for many years now… mp3s & especially i-fuckin’-tunes have killed all the good music & bands out there…)
How can we make people love and buy music in this time-period with all the financial problems and the easy way of getting it for free with just a few clicks? Some say that going back to vinyl is the answer… but there’s not only that. What else can the labels and the bands do?
O: I dunno, of course. I just know there is a big difference between now and the past: there are 1000 times the number of bands we had in the past. It’s impossible to think people should buy albums from all of these bands.
I guess we lost the “fan attitude”, which means like in the past, to get deeper into some bands or musicians “point of view”, like their music, follow their life and career and then feel closer to them. Now it’s all a “plug and play” system: download albums, put them in a mp3 player (or your ipod), mix them all, press play, listen to them while doing other things. Once the hard disk is full just empty it and repeat it with newer albums… most of the times people that doing it they don’t even know the name of the band or the songs they’re listening to.
(i.n.: He speaks the truth guys…)
It’s time for the Weird Questions now!!! How did you come up with the name Vision Divine… whose idea was it back in the day?
O: Simply: Vision Divine’s first album was supposed to be my first solo album. It should have been titled “Divine”. When Fabio joined the band I decided not to release it like my solo album, so I chose VISION which was the first name of the first band I had when I started playing (later it became Labyrinth) and DIVINE as the name for this new band.
Which is the record you wish you had written and why??
O: “Parallels” from Fates Warning, ‘cause I just love that album and that band. I know, I might have chosen some album which sold some million copies…uh? (i.n.: Nope… quality over quantity dude… I totally agree with you)
Which are the top 5 heavy/power metal albums of all time according to you and why?
O: In no particular order...
  • Stratovarius - “Episode”
  • Royal Hunt - Moving Target (is this power? mmmmm)
  • Gamma Ray - Somewhere out in Space
  • Helloween - Keeper of the 7 keys 1&2

What do you think of Charlie’s quote: Beers, Pizza, Hookers? Which one is the most tasteful of all?
O: A beer and a Pizza, all the time.
You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie-celebrity of your choice. Who would it be?
O: My own self. I need no bitches around, especially not those Hollywood ones.
If Vision Divine’s career was a movie… which movie would it be and why?
O: 300, dunno why, but I just find it cool ahahah…
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
O: I’d of course go to A.D. ZERO and move a bit around that. I would like to meet a certain guy who seems to have influenced the next 2000 years in a way or another.
Beautiful or ugly woman? For girlfriend or for wife?
O: Now, who would possibly choose an ugly woman, if he could choose… (i.n.: hahaha no one… but who can actually choose?!!!)
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
O: Better that way than asking me to buy it with my own money ahah. (i.n.: heheh… that’s so nasty fella!!)
That’s all for now Olaf! Wish you the best for the future. If there is anything else that you would like to tell to Grande Rock readers, just do it!
O: Thanks a lot. I won’t say anything else, ‘cause the last question is always the most difficult one. Cheers!