Friday, April 09, 2010

The Vision Bleak: Set Sail To Mystery (2010) Review

A week ago, I reviewed this German gothic metal band's last release, giving it a 4 star rating. I've managed to get my hands on their new album, though, so now I'll be reviewing Set Sail To Mystery, by The Vision Bleak.

It doesn't start out very strong. Don't let the nearly 4 minute run time fool you: the first track is a throwaway intro, one nobody would ever listen to except as a prelude to the rest of the album. I gave their previous album such praise because of the excellent, groovy but heavy riffs overlaid with interesting lead guitar. On the next couple tracks, they have ditched that sound in favor of a very standard, very done-and-done-over-again gothic metal. Not to say that they're bad--they're just not the superb, unique songwriting I was used to from these guys.

One area of improvement, though is in the vocals. Particularly on "I Dined With the Swans," you could almost swear they enlisted Till Lindemann for the pipes.

Things really pick up on the fourth track, "A Romance With the Grave." They've brought back some groove metal-inspired riffs, but instead of 90's groove it sounds more like current-day groove in the vein of DevilDriver.

On "The Outsider" they take a gothic death/doom approach, apparently channeling My Dying Bride, and on "Mother Nothingness (The Triumph of Ubbo Sathla) they seem to take a standard doom approach to their gothic metal. The last two tracks return to their faster-paced gothic groove.

The Verdict: I give it 3 out of 5 stars. The Vision Bleak explores more territory on Set Sail To Mystery than on their previous effort, but it's territory that's been explored before by other groups. It's not particularly lacking in strong songs, but with the incredibly slow start--about 14 minutes before it gets really interesting--it's difficult to get into the album in the first place. They should have dropped the first track and rearranged the song order.

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