I’d been meaning to check out THE VISION BLEAK ever since the release of “The Deathship Has A New Captain” due to some good reviews and the fact that half of the members, guitarist-bassist-keyboardist Ulf Theodor Schwadorf (aka Markus Stock) was in EMPYRIUM, a band I think I like but never actually listen to. Come to think of it, I also think his NOEKK project is a massive misfire, so I don’t really know why he was a selling point. Anyhow, that means I was pleased to receive “The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey” and I have to say, THE VISION BLEAK does not disappoint.
“Amala & Kamala” is a great introduction, with an imposing guitar melody that would have been at home in one of METALLICA’s more serene moments in the golden ‘80s. “She Wolf” sets the trend for the album in creating a sound difficult to accurately describe. I’d say there’s a Heavy base with occasional Thrash riffs, while a Goth atmosphere pervades the whole affair, due in large part to keyboard orchestrations and Allen B. Konstanz’s dramatic clean vocals. Konstanz also growls when appropriate, but his deep clean voice is at the centre. For the most part the tempo is mid-paced, purposeful, measured.
Tracks 4-6 form the centrepiece of the album as “The Black Pharaoh Trilogy.” “Part II: The Vault Of Nephren-Ka” actually has some Heavy Doom that reminds me of early CANDLEMASS. By turns Eastern, epic, and intimidating, this trilogy sums up THE VISION BLEAK’s variety of influences and gives a very nice package of what the band is about and what they’re trying to do.
Still, one can find quibbles with “The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey.” The fact that so much of the material has a similar sound and similar pace means that they risk losing individual identity. Each track sounds like the next, which makes it decent background music but can become a bit frustrating when simply listening to it.
“The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey” is a quality album, probably best on first listen than on subsequent ones. It has made me double interested in THE VISION BLEAK’s previous efforts, so in that way it is certainly successful. I’ll give it a moderate recommendation.
(Online January 17, 2008)