Published on Thursday, 02 January 2014 18:50
Band: The Vision Bleak
Album title: Witching Hour
Release date: 27 September 2013
Label: Prophecy Productions
01. Witching Hour
02. A Witch Is Born
03. The Blocksberg Rite
04. Cannibal Witch
05. The Wood Hag
07. Pesta Approaches
08. The Call Of The Banshee
09. The Valkyrie
Ten years after its debut album the German duo united under the name The Vision Bleak returns with its fifth studio album. To say it at the very beginning Witching Hour is one of the strongest albums that Ulf Theodor Schwadorf (also in Empyrium, Noekk, Sun Of The Sleepless and Autumnblaze) and Allen B. Konstanz (also in Ewigheim, Marienbad) ever did and shows a slight comeback to their glorious days when their debut album The Deathship Has A New Captain and second one Carpathia - A Dramatic Poem were released. If some of you have lost the interest in the band after a couple of rather uninspired (but in my opinion still good) albums let me tell you that Witching Hour and its nine tracks are a kick in the face for all you unbelievers.
If they were labeled as a gothic metal band in the past then this is no more completely an appropriate description of what is to be found on this album. Of course there are gothic elements, especially in the vocals of Allen B. Konstanz that are pretty much influenced by Andrew from The Sisters Of Mercy and Carl of Fields Of The Nephilim, also some gloomy synths and creepy atmosphere gives the gothy feeling. But the main thing up here is the huge variation of sounds based on heavy guitar riffs and extremely well done song structures that gives no distraction. Albums concept is, like the title suggests, based on witches and witchcraft, so the fans of the last episode of American Horror Story have a thing for themselves.
Witching Hour is an obscure journey that musically and stylistically unites all the elements that were found before on previous four albums, but yet adds a lot new ones, so we will find beside gothic metal, a huge dose of doom metal, even some stoner rock, for example in one of the highlights, "Cannibal Witch". There's suprisingly fast thrash metal, typical horror metal, psychedelic rock guitars and metalgaze elements that are evident in epic "The Valkyrie", which is in my opinion the best and most captivating song up here and probably the best one that The Vision Bleak ever did. You can't get past the sound of cymbal in "The Wood Hag" or fantastic use of flute in "The Blocksberg Rite", also some atmospheric, almost cinematic soundscapes are making this album very interesting. I must give a focus also to impressive drumming, sometimes so strong and furiously fast that leaves you breathless, just listen to "Pesta Approaches" and you'll get it.
The instrumental job tends to be groovy, melodic and sometimes catchy as hell. Witching Hour is rough when needed, the production is good, strong and powerful. It's a sinister feel that is well implemented and gives some shivers, just to give a very rich, dense and dark outline. It's one of those albums that needs a lot of spins to get confortable with and only after some listens you'll find out if it's or it isn't a thing for you. Witching Hour has that special flow and drive that won't leave you cold, even if it isn't something that should be called groundbreaking. Certainly there's no secret that The Vision Bleak have already established themselves with their unique style in the past and there's a huge possibility that this new opus will give them a very deserved place among the elite.
Review written by: T.V.