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The first thing to strike me about The Vision Bleak's new album is prolific English artist Dan Seagrave's wonderfully atmospheric cover art. A menacing and atmospherically conceived scene that matches the darkly menacing atmosphere inherent in this German duo's music, it's certainly an eye-catching piece, and no doubt fathomed and realised through a perfect grasp of the band's compositions. Seagrave really is masterful at this kind of thing and the man's still got it!

As for the music itself... well, as I've already mentioned, we're talking about a darkly menacing atmosphere, and this is pervasive on the album in its entirety. In a similar manner to how Moonspell mix up metal, rock and gothic elements, The Vision Bleak follow the same sort of path... although, of course, just in the sense of conception, rather than realisation, as both bands sound little like each other. Rather, like Moonspell, Schwadorf and Konstanz have succeeded in blending an authenticity of gothic idioms within their metal canvas, with fairly innovative results, and warrant the "goth metal" tag far more than the plethora of image-based, so-called goth metal acts who pertain very little to the classic era of goth music.

With just two band members, The Vision Bleak's autonomy is in full flow, as heavy and acoustic guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, and clean and growled vocals are combined to create some pretty engaging songs with more than a hint of epic persuasions. Both the richly layered instrumentations and some of the melodies weaved within effuse not only dark and foreboding atmospheric textures, but also a sense of the epic in their poetically penned narratives. There's a compositional breadth and grandeur to many of the songs, particularly in the mellower, acoustic/keyboard-led passages that makes 'The Unknown' a thoroughly engaging listen. As does the contrasting heavy/light duality in each of the songs, and the moments of foot-tapping, head-banging rhythms through a number of tempo changes.

It states in press blurb that "The Vision Bleak are facing their personal demons and the horror that lives within themselves" in lyrical themes on 'The Unknown', and have abandoned the fictional horrors they previously drew upon. I guess that sense of self-confrontation and profound introspections are also reified in the music, as this sounds like an emotionally fuelled, personal journey... but, ultimately, a cathartic one, rather than succumbing to the horrors they've confronted. And I suppose, despite the emphatically melancholic, dark flavours of 'The Unknown', it does actually convey a more uplifting vibe in parts, which hints towards a catharsis of sorts. As such, listening to 'The Unknown' offers up a rewarding experience in more ways than one.
Prophecy Productions
Review by Mark Holmes
3rd June 2016
1) Spirits of the Dead
2) From Wolf to Peacock
3) The Kindred of the Sunset
4) Into the Unknown
5) Ancient Heart
6) The Whine of the Cemetery Hound
7) How Deep Lies Tartoros
8) Who May Oppose Me?
9) The Fragrancy of Soil Unearthed
"...despite the emphatically melancholic, dark flavours of 'The Unknown', it does actually convey a more uplifting vibe in parts, which hints towards a catharsis of sorts."