The Vision Bleak – Witching Hour (Prophecy Productions)

Friday, 27th September 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Probably less covert than most Goth and/or horror metal bands would generally present themselves, German’s The Vision Bleak have staked a claim as one of the heavier bands to function in this realm. Their 2010 effort Set Sail to Mystery was a testament to that, as grueling, blood-drenched riffs filled the airwaves, while the thick, syrupy cadence of co-main dude Konstanz supplied the natural Goth in full. Witching Hour has many of the same qualities, and it’s more of a cinematic offering with better vocal hooks.

The hard-charging “A Witch is Born” sets the pace, with riff chugs and thrust of the simplistic/alternative metal variety, but recorded in a manner that is heavy for the regular metal throng. Cue the very Dracula vocals, and it’s the template The Vision Bleak has come to perfect. One can’t help but get down with the forest-y allure of “The Blocksburg Rite” (love those opening flutes) or the gradual stomp of “The Wood Hag,” which contains more vocal variations (background hoots, echoes, etc.) than we’re used to hearing from these fine gentleman.

Without any real Gothic swoon-to-the-moon moments, Witching Hour can probably hang with the modern horror metal cut that seems to be forever a prickly thorn to the ashen-faced. However, the driving, downright catchy riff action on “The Call of the Banshee” is a fun, carefree ride, where the story is the catch, the vocals are a bit on the cartoonish side, but it all works, much like the rest of the album. A unique commodity, no doubt about it.

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