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After the weaker "The wolves go hunt their prey" that had many heavier and thrash influenced passages and less harmonic, symphonic and magic moments, The Vision Bleak decided to not follow the path of commercial heaviness but to create another atmospheric masterpiece. This album is nearly as strong as the band's first two albums. Most of the songs are extremely atmospheric, symphonic and intense and the band already shows that it wants go back to the roots with the dramatic and poetic introduction "A curse of the grandest kind" that gets you in a creepy and intense atmosphere even if the song is maybe a few moments too long for an introduction. The typical horror metal topics are back and better elaborated than on the previous album. But the band didn't copy the style of the first two albums, but took some parts of the heaviness of the third album and even chose to do some experimental songs and try out something completely new. That's what makes this album really diversified and it all sounds very fresh and inspiring.
A good example for the little changes within the sound of the band is the song "Mother Nothingness". It is probably the slowest and longest song that the band has ever written has a strong doom metal touch. A very creepy and slow intro, dark chorals and an epic and a little bit overlong structure present the band in a completely new style. The new elements on this album work even better in the song "A romance with the grave" that combines the heaviness of the last album with the atmosphere of the second. The vocals are much more aggressive than usual and the growls are dominant on this song that is maybe the most twisted and surprising one on the whole album.
But we also get the band's typical catchy Horror Metal masterpieces like the very spooky and slow "I dined with the swans" that works well on both versions included on the bonus disc. The harsh and extreme voice of Niklas Kvarforth fits perfectly with the spooky piano and is even more interesting than the regular version. The band is able to innovate here by staying close to their roots and delivering another typical masterpiece. "The foul within" could have been placed on the band's second album with its haunting and hypnotic female vocals and dramatic and majestic passages. "The outsider" is catchy as hell and very addicting and could have been found on the band's first album. This song delivers everything The Vision Bleak represents and is an instant killer that you can't get out of your mind. It is my favourite song on this excellent album.
The other songs "Descend into maelstrom" and "He who paints the black of night" have both a great quality and are typical The Vision Bleak songs to open and close the album but they are not as surprising, epic, innovating or catchy as the four songs that I've mentioned but rather heavy stuff.
The limited edition includes a very well done deluxe booklet, an excellent cover song "By the misery of fate he was haunted" by the quite unknown Czech extreme metal band Master's Hammer that you wouldn't even expect to be a cover song because he has the typical band's style and works very well with the rest of the album and finally, there are a few short instrumental and classical versions of some songs of the band that drown you into a very inspiring and profound mood of melancholic tranquility.
There is really not much to argue about this album. It is only a personal choice that I prefer the first two albums and especially my favourite album of all times "Carpathia" to this album, because this album is nearly as good and will absolutely satisfy anyone who likes this original band and dark and inspiring music. The differences of quality between those three albums are very small indeed (the only "weak" points, if there are any on this albums, are the length of "Mother Nothingness" and the a little bit too ordinary and usual "He who paints the black of night") and it is only "The wolves go hunt their prey" which I didn't like as much as the other three ones.