The Vision Bleak - _The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey_
(Prophecy Productions / Napalm Records, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (
Leaning less on the faux horror movie soundtrack of their prior, more orchestral albums, German duo The Vision Bleak have upped the metal quotient substantially with their latest opus, _The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey_. Oh, the epic / funereal Type O by way of Skepticism influences still rear their head pretty high, but 2007 finds the band reliant on trad metal riffage to a much greater extent than anything previously mustered. Bottom line: this is the first Vision Bleak album focusing on true rock-based song craft rather than attempting to pull off one of those "soundtrack(s) to an imaginary film", a genre that is rarely successful (even the success of NIN's _Year Zero_ was in spite of the theme, rather than because of it).When the martial dirge of album opener "Amala & Kamala" kicks in, it would seem business is as usual. The guitars are mere ornamentation over marching band snares and a choral background of angelic oohs and aahs. Then "She Wolf" erupts into a blackened thrash onslaught of mid-tempo galloping triplets and all previous assumptions are suddenly out the window.Well, sort of. There's still a lot of the old love for the majestic possibilities of melodic goth in these boys, and at the end of the day it's the hooks and the stellar production job that put this album over the hump. Allen Konstanz layers multi tracked bass vocals ominously atop frenzied thrash riffs, the latter trading off with bombastic orchestral arrangements as each song merits. Rather than cramming everything they have in their arsenal into each and every song, the Vision Bleak let the composition determine its own strengths and weaknesses. Which means "She Wolf" and "The Demon of the Mire" stick more or less entirely with their metallic tendencies, whereas on mid-album trilogy "The Black Pharaoh" more emphasis is placed on proggy instrumentalism, including Middle Eastern flourishes and stagy chanting. All in all, a pretty solid stab at "Most Improved Band" award, as the previous pair of albums never transcended mediocre background music for me. Kudos.
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