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The Vision Bleak - The Unknown (2016) - Review

Band: The Vision Bleak
Album title: The Unknown
Release date: 3 June 2016
Label: Prophecy Productions

01. Spirits Of The Dead
02. From Wolf To Peacock
03. The Kindred Of The Sunset
04. Into The Unknown
05. Ancient Heart
06. The Whine Of The Cemetery Hound
07. How Deep Lies Tartaros?
08. Who May Oppose Me?
09. The Fragrancy of Soil Unearthed
10. The Ghost In Me [Bonus]
11. Luster Nocturnal [Bonus]

It was back in 2007 when The Vision Bleak supported the mighty Therion on their European tour when I first came aware of this great band. At that time the band was already out with their third full-lenght album, The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey, and since then released another two albums, the previous one, Witching Hour, came out in 2013 and with it Ulf Theodor Schwadorf (also in Empyrium, Noekk, Sun Of The Sleepless and Autumnblaze) and Allen B. Konstanz (also in Ewigheim, Marienbad) somehow returned to their roots. Now it's 2016, 16 years after the birth of this band and The Vision Bleak with their sixth album titled The Unknown is set to explore new borders in their never ceasing thirst of creation. The Unknown somehow marks a new beginning for Schwadorf and Konstanz, it's an album that differs a lot from anything they did before, but still it sounds unmistakable like nothing else but The Vision Bleak.

First of all The Unknown is a very adventurous album, it's musically so very strong and boisterously creative as it can get, but it's still so very dark, maybe the gloomiest album they ever did. Not only from the musical side, also lyrical wise this album marks something new, there's no more talk about different horror classics and fictional legends, The Unknown is more metaphoric and speaks on a personal level while facing the personal demons and fears, it's much closer to musicians personal lives, and so everything reflects in music which became a bit more emotional and lively. The Unknown is a dark metal album that rejects any kind of direct labeling as it is so very diverse, versatile, uniting furious extreme elements on the very edge of death or even black metal with glorious elegance of gothic metal, but there are signs also of doom, medieval, neoclassical, theatrical and horror music. Everything is well packed into one compact dense mass of sound that hits the listener with powerful vibrations.

The album opens up with a short intro and soon sets the standard very high with amazing "From Wolf To Peacock". Massive guitar riffs, vibrant bass lines, demonic drums, gothic atmospheric keys and great deep dark baritone vocals of Konstanz, that here and there reach into harsher tones, are nothing but great. The band swiftly steers between intense aggressive lines, nice gothic ambiances, heavy grooves and memorable catchy melodic parts, here and there also some acoustic insertions make songs very organic, dynamic and fresh. A bit more deviant and in your face thrown playful dark rocker "The Kindred Of The Sunset" is just like if listening to the good old Type O Negative on high speed. I think that this album gets its peak in the amazing "Into The Unknown", where abundant gloomy atmospheres, haunting doomy melodies and some acoustic insertions converge into the captivating groovy refrain. There's a lot going on in this dynamic album, it's fascinatinating how creepy and at the same time tribalistic the ambiance becames on "Ancient Heart", or how fearful and spooky is everything in a rather more demanding but still smooth doom goth metal masterpiece "The Whine Of The Cemetery Hound", where even those into blackened elements will find their peace.

While for most of the time the songs keep the listener focused and the atmosphere is intensified from song to song, the thing becomes a bit too mellow on "How Deep Lies Tartaros?", but everything is forgiven when the closing song "The Fragrancy Of Soil Unearthed" grabs the listener with its truly unrelenting melodic, yet strong riffing and one of the best vocal performances ever delivered by Konstanz. As well the rich murky and gripping atmosphere is providing some kind of a fearful feeling and drama that is not ceasing down at any moment and with every consequent listen new hidden layers get discovered. 

The production of this album is top notch, it gives additional depth, power and kind of a multidimensional sound. As well I was surprised a lot by the great front cover artwork, which nicely coincides with albums thematics, done by the legendary artist Dan Seagrave, yeah, the one who did the one for Morbid Angel's Altars Of Madness, Entombed's Left Hand Path or Dismembered's Like An Ever Flowing Stream to name a few. Those of you who'll be lucky enough to get the box CD edition will be granted with two bonuses, "The Ghost In Me" and "Luster Nocturnal". The Unknown is an album that shouldn't be missed in any collection of dark metal fans as it simply marks not only a new era for The Vision Bleak, but it also adds a lot to this genre in general. The two captains, Schwadorf and Konstanz, did a masterful job, they gave a breath of fresh air that gives their music a novel shine, and you are invited to join them on this journey into The Unknown.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9/10