Mekong Delta
Visions Fugitives



by Mclovin USER (7 Reviews)
May 25th, 2010 | 9 replies

Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Metal influenced by classical music is often shrouded in obscurity, resulting in strongly talented bands remaining unknown throughout their careers. Mekong Delta is a case in point.

Combining the term "classical" with metal is a dangerous conversational move in the presence of some music critics. For those who are not entirely familiar with the genre, classical-influenced metal seems to be filled with negative stereotypes arising from Yngwie Malmsteen's excessive guitar wankery, The Human Abstract's arrogantly self-proclaimed belle époque, and Dragonforce's processed-and-canned corniness. However, every once in a blue moon, a band comes around that smashes the listener's preconceptions about a given genre.

Enter Mekong Delta.

Combining classical music with tech-thrash, Mekong Delta is a musical force to be reckoned with. Visions Fugitives incorporates influences from innumerable genres, ranging the gamet from avant-garde to classical to progressive to thrash metal. Tracks such as "Introduction" and "Postludium" feature passionately touching classical guitar, while tracks such as "Them", "Imagination", and "Allegro" are relatively straightforward progressive metal with a thrash-like approach. Due to the album's vast range of sounds and influences, Visions Fugitives is an enigmatic album to categorize as a whole. Nonetheless, each song relates to the next in an indescribable manner, giving the release an undeniable sense of unity.

As the album kicks off with the frantic intro to "Them," it's made clear that this German metal band pays homage to the classical music behemoths of their mother country - namely Bach and Mozart. At this point, the listener can make several accurate assumptions about Visions Fugitives; first of all, the band can lock in through technical passages without overproduction, and second, the mixing allows for all instruments to be balanced and audible (in other words, you can hear the bass). Before the technicality-filled assault overstays its welcome, Mekong Delta digs into the meat of the song. Then it happens - the make or break point of a progressive metal band - Mekong Delta follows the technicality by fully exercising restraint and accessibility through impeccable songwriting abilities. This is further solidified with consistency throughout the remainder of the album. This consistency is not unlike Willy Wonka's golden ticket; it is as rare as it is sought after, and - if found - is the most valued part of your purchase.

Having a guitar solo fly over your head without recognizing it as one most often means one of two things: either the song has desensitized you with superfluous guitar leads (ah-hem, Yngwie...) or the guitarist's solo was added for the sole purpose of enhancing the song, and did so successfully. Standing testament to this dichotomy, after my first listen to this album, I thought to myself, "Wow, a progressive metal band without solos"" However, upon my second listen, it became apparent that the guitarists can shred with the best of them, yet seldom do it, and never rely upon it. But, when they do shred, it's subtle and supportive of the song, rather than taking it over, making it all the more impressive. Similarly, the vocalist can sing quite proficiently and fits the sound well, yet is at the bottom of the mix. This may be a concern for some, but it seems appropriate in context, as he uses his voice as though it were an accompanying instrument more so than he leads the band. However, regardless of their strong sense of restraint and judgment, several songs, such as "Fugue", tend to get slightly repetitive and last a bit longer than their worth, but still maintain strong focus.

From the pounding double-bass triplets and chugging guitars of "Imagination" to the powerfully emotional classical guitar of "Introduction" and "Postludium", Visions Fugitives proves to be an widely unknown magnum opus in metal as a whole with well-matured judgment and creativity coupled with strong musicianship. Unfortunately, the vast stereotypes of the genre often cause bands to be labeled "guilty by association," and are dismissed into obscurity without further investigation. Don't make this mistake with Mekong Delta.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
May 25th 2010


I was trying to search out The Music of Erich Zann awhile back but couldn't find it. Dig the Lovecraft refences with this band. Good review, hopefully i'll find that record.

Digging: Vreid - I Krig

May 25th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks! Yeah, this was recommended to me a week ago, and I've been pretty blown away ever since - hopefully the review didn't sound too fanboyish.

Staff Reviewer
May 26th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

This band sure needs more love from the Sputnik community.

I totally disagree with the term neoclassical mentioned here. Although Mekong Delta is significantly influenced by classical music, they are not neoclassical at all, not even a different yet interesting variation of the term.

Avant-garde is a more proper definition.

The second paragraph is right to the point.

I haven't listened to the record in some time, but i remember that its music is melancholic, although aggressive on occasion. You didn't mention this anywhere in your review Tim.

Overall, decent effort but you should have waited a bit longer before you write this, i believe.

If the guitars in this record shred, wait until you listen to Dances Of Death and The Music of Erich Zahn, for example.

You'll be surprised.

The band's discography has been re-issued a few years ago.

You can order anything you like from here:

Digging: Fleurety - The White Death

May 26th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

A good definition I found of neo-classical metal is "Neo-classical metal is a subgenre of the heavy metal music very influenced by classical music in it's style of playing and composing. It contains complex musical structures - analogous to progressive rock - and the use of elements from classical music and/or by famous classical music composers." Also, several sources narrow the classical influence to the Baroque and Romantic eras, and Mekong Delta draws from both, such as Mozart from the Romantic and Bach from Baroque. Granted, they aren't overblown pretentious neoclassical in the air of Yngwie Malmsteen, but Malmsteen isn't the stylistic be-all and end-all of the genre. I'm not one to pin labels on bands, but if I had to, I'd call it neoclassical progressive metal; but I'd agree, it's definitely more progressive than it is neoclassical. I'm not sure this album is free-form and experimental enough to be considered avant-garde like maudlin of the Well, but perhaps their other albums differ, and to each his own.

I agree, my review didn't really cover the meloncholic side well; I'll try to fix that.

I was planning on checking out Dances of Death next, it looks pretty sick.

Staff Reviewer
May 27th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Mekong Delta is a tech-thrash band with classical influences when it comes to songwriting.

Using the term neoclassical progressive metal you consequently put MD in comparison with bands like Symphony X.

That might be misleading for someone who's into neoclassical bands like Symphony X and At Vance as he might dislike MD because their music is harsher, melancholic in times, more aggressive and somewhat hard to get into imho.

Anyway, i end it here.

Listen to the other MD albums and you will see what i mean.

PS: Sick for Dances of Death is an understatement.

May 28th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

That's a very good point, and a good reason to change it. I edited all genre-related sections and added a paragraph; I think it's more accurate now.

I'm pretty stoked to hear it.

May 30th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for taking a look at this, man. I appreciate the suggestions, and I made edits accordingly. More than anything, I was looking for major stylistic flaws and stuff like that before I start writing more. But once again, muchos gracias!

November 7th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

sum1 review dances of death i cbf

December 23rd 2012


Good review, pos. Now i dont have to review this one (just enjoy it : )

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