Monday, October 07, 2013

The Vision Bleak: Witching Hour (2013)

Another Piece of Meat

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

Germany is awesome. Let's get that out of the way up front. My parents met and were married there. My sister lives there. I played a high school soccer tournament there. They drive their BMWs really fast but really considerately. They follow the rules. And their soccer team is consistently one of the best in the world. Their metal is equally awesome.

Who among us was not weaned on the Scorpions, Accept, and Kreator? Out in front of it is where most of their metal was. Early Scorpions previewed Judas Priest. Accept started speed and thrash in 1982 with "Restless & Wild". Kreator out Slayered Slayer in 1985 as heavier, faster, and meaner. Sodom and Destruction ruled the late 80s and made comebacks in the last decade of this new century. But despite my affinity for the country and its extreme music output there isn't much from the country in my collection which was released after 1989.

Enter the Vision Bleak, recommended by FMA himself. He described them as "Gothic" metal but I have to say I don't hear that. What do I know? I hear pounding German marching. I hear industrial metal. I hear . . . Rammstein. And that is not a pejorative.

It's not as simple as Rammstein. There's more to it. There are gothic themes and elements to "Witching Hour" aplenty. Certainly the theme is gothic - with three songs with "Witch" in the title and another with "Hag" and finally, "Hexenmeister", we have the erie bit covered. The music is too, in parts. TVB sprinkle their gothic trappings in shout along anthem like stompers. Amid modern sounding pounding march music, shouting choruses, and driving rhythms, there are the haunting intros, flutes, and synths. But what makes me like this are not those gothic flourishes, but the muscle which overpowers them.

I like Rammstein. They may not be all that nuanced but not much in Germany is. TVB's "Witching Hour" has some nuance but the album's strength is when it hammers and exults, as in trifecta of tracks 4-6, "The Cannibal Witch", "The Wood Hag", and "Hexenmeister". The driving piano in "The Wood Hag" mocks the power chorus of "Da Wood, da wood, da wood . . . hag". All with a heft tempo. It's great stuff. If I have a criticism its the modern production. I guess this is a two piece so it'd be interesting to hear these songs with a full band and some naturalization of the sound. The songs are catchy, heavy, and have enough bells and whistles to make each listen different than the last. It's not my favorite record of the year - I can get enough - but I'm not going to delete it from the hard drive either.

3 out of 5 stars*

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