Witching Hour

The Visions Bleak

Horror Metal? Metal about hexes, witch-craft, witches and witch-burning? Nonetheless, composed and recorded solely by […]
By Daniel Fox
October 31, 2013
The Visions Bleak - Witching Hour album cover

Horror Metal? Metal about hexes, witch-craft, witches and witch-burning? Nonetheless, composed and recorded solely by two eclectic Germans? Metal does indeed to have unimaginable creations tucked away in musical realms not thought to exist. THE VISIONS BLEAK write Doom-infused Gothic Metal, lyrically and instrumentally inspired by everything horror; "Witching Hour" obviously focusses on.... Witches. This new album infuses bombastic riffage borrowed from acts such as SATYRICON and DIMMU BORGIR, with eerie atmospherics and dramatic, theatrical vocals, to create what veritably feels like a horror show.

A harrowing keyboards / industrial intro leads straight into the pounding "A Witch Is Born" that sounds unmistakably like a SATYRICON track, with upbeat, heavy rock-based riffs rolling off the instruments of, amazingly, only two musicians. Get used to the strange style of vocals yelled, bleated, screamed and crooned by Konstanz; they are prevalent on the rest of this scare train. An eerie clarinet effect begins "The Blocksberg Rite", perfectly capturing medieval witch-hunting times in Europe; we have another mid-tempo, though most definitely heavier track.  The ever-evolving and oddly-titled "Cannibal Witch" is one of my favorite tracks on this record; a foreboding voiceover by Konstanz begins to tell the story of the horrid being, the "Cannibal Witch", and majestic build-up leads into the sheer diversity of riff mastery that is this song, making effective use of octaves and chord progressions. A Halloween-inspired piano and muddy-sounding bass mash-up kicks off "The Wood Hag", with syncopated and discordant low-end chugs purveying chills down one's spine and images of one's trek through a witch-infested forest; I can almost hear "the wood hag calling".

"Hexenmeister" puts an interesting twist on the music that is becoming a growing intrigue, with consistently thrash-inspired riffs, and additional splashes of SATYRICON influences. The unpredictable "Pesta Approaches" alternates between a little extra furious thrash riffage, and from time to time, comes to abrupt and crushing stops, yet the extra melodic licks of Schwadorf's guitars add some extra grim and dark soul to what is already a fat and engaging sound. "The Call Of The Banshee" builds on this, and includes, fittingly, a wailing and strained (female?) vocal effect in the introduction; not quite fatal enough to mimic the call of a banshee, but just as eerie. Alas, one finally hears a guitar solo; Schwadorf doesn't try to show off here, using long, whining melodies that perfectly fit the song's mood. The fastest, heaviest, most furious, favorite and final track has to be "The Valkyrie", quite a bit of change in lyrical direction. This meaty 7 and-a-half minute blackened Thrash barrage, however unrelenting, flows beautifully into astoundingly epic and melodious passages; tugged back down to ground by the forces of Hell that just end up breaking free into a barrage of blast-beats. Where do Valkyries fit in with witches? Who cares; this song is excellent.

A joy of writing about Metal is discovering new music so we can learn what is truly out there, and what is yet to blow our minds. THE VISION BLEAK have established a substantial creative idea, and let's face it; the scope of horror subjects is close to infinite; I am sure this band has much more to offer us.

8 / 10


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"Witching Hour" Track-listing:

1. Witching Hour
2. A Witch Is Born
3. The Blocksberg Rite
4. Cannibal Witch
5. The Wood Hag
6. Hexenmeister
7. Pesta Approaches
8. The Call Of The Banshee
9. The Valkyrie

The Visions Bleak Lineup:

Schwadorf - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Konstanz - Voices, Drums, Keyboards

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