The Vision Bleak - Set Sail To Mystery
Atmospheric Gothic Metal
8 songs (44:42)
Release year: 2010
The Vision Bleak, Prophecy
Reviewed by Goat

This odd duo (comprising Markus Stock of Autumnblaze, Noekk and a couple of others and Tobias Schönemann of Ewigheim) have been making their horror-obsessed Gothic sound for ten years now, and it's still a strangely compelling mixture, as fourth full-length Set Sail To Mystery proves. After a hammy spoken introduction, the first track proper Descend Into Maelstrom begins with Thrashy riffage, orchestral grandiosity and sampled storms. It's rather like a less blackened Bal-Sagoth, with a reduced level of ridiculousness and greater focus on catchy songwriting - the vocals are a similar mix of spoken and snarled. Towards the end of the track the pace picks up and brings the chaotic mix of melodies to a peak before cutting them back to a single strummed guitar - brilliant stuff, but not as horrific as I was expecting given the band's description of themselves as 'Horror Metal' - if you want a dark and genuinely frightening journey, look elsewhere. The Vision Bleak offer a more cheesy and Hammer Horror-esque approach, which works fine for what it is - it's hard not to appreciate the storytelling in the enjoyable vocal-led I Dined With The Swans, for instance, which has something of a My Dying Bride vibe to it.

Generally, there's as much aggressive riffage as there is atmospheric dalliance. A Romance With The Grave, for example, has a crushing opening which barely lets up in all its chaotic storming, whilst the following The Outsider will have the hardiest of Black Metallers on the dancefloor with its catchy stomp. Of course, the likes of the eight-minute Mother Nothingness (The Triumph of Ubbo Sathla) are extremely atmospheric, Doomy riffs pounding as surprisingly eerie vocals chant and snarl their mysterious message - impressively listenable despite the length. I'm not sure which of the duo behind this bleak vision perform the clean vocals, but they're excellent, avoiding outright silliness whilst retaining a theatrical vibe. They're excellent musicians, Tobias' pounding percussive work and Markus' good choice of riffs work excellently with the considered keyboard work which takes a shimmering UFO-esque weirdness on The Foul Within.

As a whole, the album is a pretty spectacular example of simultaneous cake-possession and consumption - few bands can generally pull off such a great mix of Metallic heaviness and spooky atmospherics without leaning to either side. There's not a weak track present and it's all very relistenable - their time in the scene has clearly given the duo a good grasp of what makes a good Metal track and what doesn't, and they've brought their knowledge to bear here. Even finale piece He Who Paints The Black Of Night is a good finisher, bringing an orchestra and female vocals to bear to close the album in style. Overall, it's not a stupendously brilliant album that will have you on your knees in slack-jawed wonderment, but neither is it the equivalent of a throwaway Hollywood horror remake - The Vision Bleak walk their own path, and offer copious entertainment for the Metalhead looking for something new in the Gothic Metal field.

Killing Songs :
Descend Into Maelstrom, I Dined With The Swans, The Outsider, Mother Nothingness (The Triumph Of Ubbo Sathla), The Foul Within
Goat quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by The Vision Bleak that we have reviewed:
The Vision Bleak - The Deathship Has A New Captain reviewed by Jack and quoted 80 / 100
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