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It is not easy to write an objective review about your favourite album of all times, but I will try to do this here. “Carpathia – A dramatic poem” is grandly arranged conceptual album about a young man who travels into the woods of Carpathia to visit an ancient mansion that a strange parent has left him as a heritage. As he falls under the dark spell of this dark region, he gets in connection with the mysterious cult of Kutulu and goes beyond dream and reality and soon drowned into a menacing eternal darkness. This story is loosely inspired by the fantastic and yet horrifying books of the legendary and eerie H.P. Lovecraft.
This album is more than just eight songs. The concept is developed with a lot of details, just like a theatrical script. The booklet has the style of an old script or book and some eerie dark pictures can be seen. The voyage and fate of the main actor of this play is described and analysed in every single nuance and this booklet contributes a lot to the atmosphere of the music and the whole concept.
The Vision Bleak describe their style as “horror metal”. Some call it “gothic metal”, but this is wrong as it their music much more theatrical and profoundly and diversifiedly arranged. Some call it “symphonic metal”, but this is wrong because the music is much heavier and darker than other bands of this genre and the symphonic element is one of many but not the most important one. Some call it “dark metal”, but this is wrong because this description or genre is too widely spread and to general to describe such a unique and certain style. Some even call it “Horror punk”, but the music doesn’t have to do anything with punk at all. “Horror metal” fits perfectly as a style description. This opus is loosely bound on the novels of a horror author, the music creates a terrifying and dark atmosphere, the whole appearance of the band – in the booklet or live on stage – make you think of an old eerie horror movie, the music is sometimes symphonic and bombastic, sometimes really slow and spooky, sometimes really heavy and fast, sometimes romantic and slow, but still always atmospheric and dark. This is a new genre and there is no other band until know who could be classified to this same genre. And this album is the absolute masterpiece of the genre.
The dramatic poem creates images in your head and eerie feelings in your mind like no other album known to me. It opens with a dramatic, bombastic orchestral introduction that brings you in the perfect spooky mood before the weakest song – and this is the only weak point in his album – begins. “Secrecies in darkness” is sure a solid song, a very heavy, fast and straight one that would be the highlight on any album, but it hasn’t yet the same profound atmosphere as the rest of this very special album.
But this is the only little point of critic concerning this album. The next songs are all just amazing and drown you in an eerie and dark atmosphere. Heavy, dark guitars supported by a dark and very charismatic and yet melodic voice dominate the title track “Carpathia”. Bell chimes and dark growls dominate the epic chorus and a quiet, symphonical interlude create more and more tension. You can imagine the character on the wagon torn by his horses and how the travel through the dark forests of Transylvania.
“Dreams in the witch-house” begins with a quiet and eerie piano interlude before dramatic violins slowly fade in and open for a dark and heavy guitar play. The chorus is filled with tension and has an evil dramatic, the piano, clearly distinguishable drums and the guitar solo go hand in hand to lead up to an interesting finale. This song gives you literally the impression to walk through the leave-covered big halls of an abandoned mansion where phantoms haunt its visitor.
“Sister Najade” begins as haunting as the previous song and a female voice, powerful and yet breakable, of a strange apparition brings an interesting note to this song. The song is very doom and slower than the previous ones and makes you literally afraid. The orchestration is decent, yet fits perfectly. The song gives you the impression to lay down in a bed in an old mansion and to see and fairy or a phantom, some kind of a weird apparition surrounded by a strange white light.
“The curse of Arabia” is a little bit heavier and adds another interesting element with its haunting Arabian folk sounds. The chorus is bombastic and very dark and the guitar solo is intense and very emotional. You can see before your eyes a crowd of fanatic people building up old temples with their own blood and bones and this song frightens you.
“Kutulu!” is dominated by its perfect drum play and the shouting crowds or choirs in something that you may call a chorus. The song begins heavy and straight and finishes on a dramatic, orchestral note. You can really imagine the fanatic followers of the cult celebrating their dark messes.
The last song, the epic and brilliant “The charme is done” begins with a reduced number of instruments and that fits perfectly after the heavy and straight “Kutulu!” and gets you in an eerie and thoughtful mood before a dramatic orchestration begins. The singer appears late in this song but sounds really mighty and royal and can once again impress you and transmit a dramatic doom. The orchestration is employed in a reduced and yet very effective way and contributes once more to the atmosphere. There are many changes within the song, after a dramatic orchestration follows a heavy, fast part as if the main character was running from a phantom. The song then slows down and is very doom before Arabian orchestration comes in and the singer works as a dramatic storyteller before the song accelerates and black growls go hand in hand with the melodic voice in some parts. It is that growl, like a scream of terror and pain, which lets you finally alone with an orchestral and haunting outro. The last growled words are “...in darkness!” And in fact, they leave you in perfect darkness.
The album is over. You feel like waking up from a dark dream, you have sweat on your head, you are breathing uneasily and you still have goose bumps. If you concentrate on the atmosphere of the album and if you listen to this masterpiece in a quiet and dark room as I did when I heard it the first time, this album will have more effect on you than any horror movie and is perfectly arranged, produced and creatively enveloped on every single note.
This album is intense, dark and majestic. It is the best album ever done to me. There are no 100 percent ratings from me, as no album is perfect and even here, one single thing, the song “Secrecies in darkness” is not yet perfect even though it is a really great song. The rest is absolute perfection. It is the best album I have ever listened to in my life and I’m into the metal world since seven years and have listened and bought several hundred or maybe thousand albums. I think that my opinion is worth something. But when I heard this album first back in autumn 2005, I already knew and felt that this is more than music and that I would rarely something to compare to this.
Hail Kutulu! Hail The Vision Bleak! Hail Horror Metal!
Now get this masterpiece or shame on you!