The Vision Bleak - Witching Hour

The Vision Bleak - Witching Hour

(CD/LP, Prophecy Productions, 2013)

I have to admit that reading the press release accompanying THE VISION BLEAK promo got me intrigued more than one might have expected, and especially the following excerpt “with the spontaneity and playfulness of “Witching Hour”, Schwadorf and Konstanz hark back to their debut “The Deathship Has A New Captain” that I think hints the band’s intention to re-visit the sound of the earlier days (in case the Schwadorf name rings any bells, yup, he is one of the two EMPYRIUM members). I still remember how the majority of the Gothic / Horror Metal community was impressed when the debut album was released (back in 2004) and since then, I have become a die-hard fan of the German duo. “Witching Hour” is the Germans’ fifth offering (extra kudos for the title, guys!), and truth is that by the time I had reached the third track “The Blocksberg Rite”, it was clear to me that this album follows the tradition that wants THE VISION BLEAK to serve better albums than the previous. But let’s take first things first and stop moving ahead of myself...

The self-titled track (also works like an intro) enters with three repeating musical notes breathing icy-cold air and spookiness, seconds before the sound of the stormy wind, introducing the listener to the main hair-rising melody that could have been in the soundtrack of a ‘60s horror movie. In this album the THE VISION BLEAK horror-storytelling duo puts all the nightmares and the once-belief in witches on paper and music, crafting the perfect scenery for the play dealing with supernatural creatures like Pesta (the figure of death and illness in Scandinavian countries and Northern Europe), banshees, cannibal witches and Valkyries, all recruited to give the listener the scariest time of his life. The album’s atmosphere created by keyboards (handled by both Schwadorf and Konstanz) along with various eerie sounds borrowed from classic horror movies (like in their debut using John Carpenter’s “The Fog” narration in “Elizabeth Dane” and the widely-known intro-line “11:55, almost midnight. Enough time for one more story”) really manage to get under one’s skin. Indeed, you will feel this in the RAMMSTEIN-esque “A Witch Is Born” (note the monotonous piano bits) or the Victorian-esque “The Wood Hag” and its ‘Hansel and Gretel’ story that bring in mind images from the foggy England of the early 1600s. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to deal with some new additions like the haunting flute sounds in “The Blocksberg Rite” (something that I would like to see more in their future releases), Konstanz’s most versatile and sinister vocals, or some really cool Thrash / Speed Metal arrangements like in my personal favourite “Cannibal Witch” and “The Valkyrie”, showing the band’s extended musical range and high skilled musicianship, spreading promises for their next step in discography.

“Witching Hour” is filled with creepy, atmospheric vocal passages and massive guitars that are not going to satisfy only the band’s fans, but every metalhead who has a sweet tooth for witches and other folklore creatures, all wrapped up with a nice Metal ribbon. Hands down, THE VISION BLEAK have created an album that is musically in very close proximity to their debut, and the addition of some new elements definitely keeps everything fresh. I really appreciate how this band continues to refine its Horror Metal over the years led by two excellent musicians who work on producing diverse and original music. In case you haven’t (yet) checked these guys, you should definitely do so, and you can start with this album.

8/10


Links:

www.The-Vision-Bleak.De
www.MySpace.Com/TheVisionBleak
www.FaceBook.Com/TheVisionBleak.Official


Tracklist:

01. Witching Hour
02. A Witch Is Born
03. The Blocksberg Rite
04. Cannibal Witch
05. The Wood Hag
06. Hexenmeister
07. Pesta Approaches
08. The Valkyrie


Lineup:

Allen B. Konstanz - Vocals, Drums, Keyboards
Ulf Theodor Schwadorf - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards