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This is one of the best and most original debut albums that I have ever listened to. The Vision Bleak invent a whole new genre which they call Horror Metal. Well, many bands suppose that they are inventing something new and give weird names to their creations, but they are mostly wrong, but this band really creates something new. Their songs have a very dark, doom, melancholic, mysterious and frightening atmosphere and they are inspired by famous horror books or movies. They even employ some very lyrical and stylish historical old English vocabulary, they present a very mysterious and authentic booklet, and they include bombastic and orchestral parts in their songs but also very dark, heavy and frightening riffs and melodies. The two heads of this band really do everything to create associations to their world of horror. But they are not only paying attention on the concept and mood of the album, but also on the quality of each single song. There are many very addicting songs with perfect vocal lines and catchy melodies. The songs do not only work in the context of the entire album but also as single pieces of art. There is no single filler on the whole album and it is nearly perfect and there is just one thing that makes me rate this great creation just underneath the value of its follow-up “Carpathia”. While the second album tells a conceptual story where a certain degree of development, tension and drama is raising throughout the whole album until its great finale, the atmosphere is not that intense on the first album and there is no direct continuous concept. I would even say that the first songs on the album are the most addicting ones and the last ones the less perfect ones on the whole album which isn’t the case on their follow-up where you can really see a strong development. On the other hand, the songs of this first album work even better live on stage than the songs of their second output. The songs are really heavy and addicting. I would even say that the songs written on this album are the best live songs that the band has ever written to this day. But the studio album has also nothing lost of its charm even after I have been listening to this for several years, it is really a timeless and well elaborated magnum opus.
After the bombastic introduction “A shadow arose”, which gets you in a very eerie mood, “The night of the living dead” starts with a weird keyboard sound and a very tight riff. This song has some interesting breaks and especially Allen B. Konstanz shows already what a great, diversified and emotional singer he is. The chorus is an absolute killer and this short and sweet song is the perfect choice to open an album and introduce us to a world of strange nightmares and the creation of a new genre called Horror Metal. “Wolfmoon” is much darker then and concentrates on a doom or gothic atmosphere with melancholic and mysterious vocals. The chorus is also very addicting and the song grows a lot with the time. “Horror of Antarctica” is a mysterious, dark and atmospheric song with a very simple but addicting chorus. The song has a very doom and calm atmosphere that fits perfectly to the frosty place it is talking about. “The lone night rider” opens with an amazingly simple but extremely addicting introduction melody and has once again a very dark chorus that you can’t get out of your mind.
The other songs on the album are also technically perfect and mostly really intense but those four songs in the beginning and middle of the album are the most catchy and remarkable songs to me.
I recommend this album to all fans of atmospheric metal music or even more simple: I recommend to anyone who listens to music and until now, no friend or parent of mine has lived a bad experience with this album, everybody seems to appreciate its originality and style.
The Vision Bleak are symphonic, doom and gothic but do not forget to stay heavy and have some death and thrash elements in some of their songs. Dramatic orchestrations meet with heavy guitars, dark and clear vocals meet with some harsh shrieks and grunts which are well employed, transcending and floating moods meet with melodic guitar solos and a very tight and straight drumming and this entirely works in a very harmonic and diversified way. The genre “gothic metal” isn’t simply large enough to describe the band. That’s why I think that “Horror Metal” as the band calls this genre itself perfectly fits. And their band’s name “The Vision Bleak” underlines this fact as well as the album title “The death ship has a new captain”. The two captains of the band lead us to new shores and undiscovered territories. They introduce us into a very frightening world of mysterious nightmares and the next album goes even beyond life and death or illusion and reality and shows us a supernatural perfection and drowns us in a very mysterious mood.
Ha, The Vision Bleak. The creative duo of Allen B. Konstanz and Ulf Theodor Schwadorf. Just reading the names of the band and its members, letting the syllables of this somewhat more distinguished words touch the mouth and the mind is as a glass of wine. It’s more than just quenching one’s thirst, it’s enjoying the different aspects of the fluid. The same could be said for the band’s first impression. The Vision Bleak, the name appears as an archaic construction of words to me. And I like those, especially in English. It is one of the reasons I enjoy the tales of H.P. Lovecraft, who happens to be one the main inspirations for the band. But enough of this rather snobbish drooling over names. So the names appeal to me, what about the visual aspect of the band?
All band pictures are taken in yellowed, brown colours. Like a picture from the early 20th or even late 19th century. And the costumes of the band correspond with this: high hats, canes with knobs, and more of those items. It’s a gimmick I really like. And it suits the horror tales told in the songs. The Vision Bleak, inspired by the grand H.P. Lovecraft, sing about horror. The living dead, the “untamed and ferocious wolfman”, the horrors of Antarctica (inspired on the story At the Mountains of Madness) and even the Devil himself are given their song on this album. People who know Lovecraft might experience the same horror is I do: what you do not see or know is often much more frightening than what you do see. Horror movies nowadays are more gore movies, the subtle touch of the unknown horror lost. Without the late 19th, early 20th century gimmick the stories would lose a lot of their power and credibility. A werewolf lost in the city of the 21st century isn’t half as frightening as a werewolf a century earlier, dwelling in the unlit streets of a village or the foggy roads of a dark wood. Scenes I image much more easier in the past than in the present.
The gimmick with its names and setting in time is perfect for me. And for the music. The Deathship Has A New Captain has the biggest diversity in the discography of The Vision Bleak. There are nine songs on the album, each with it own style and tempo. The first song on the album is A Shadow Arose. “Since the beginning of Time there was darkness, and with darkness came fear.” That’s it. The tone is set, the atmosphere is brought to life while these words are spoken by a old man’s croaking voice, accompanied by an eerie piano. As soon as the man finishes, a ghostly woman’s voice takes over and sings incomprehensible words about an undescribed horror. The sound of the piano dies, and after a short silence a harpsichord-like string sound begins. Deep and dark. A fast hit on the drums and the music explodes. A fast, thrashy part breaks loose. Eerie keyboards, fast guitars, aggressive drumming. And then Konstanz starts singing. In his very understandable way of singing he sings of the signs of the approaching horror, the living dead. He is accompanied by a keyboard sound that sounds somewhat like a pan flute. A sound that isn’t scary in any way, but it does the trick here. It isn’t scary, but it embodies the spooky nature of the living, it is a reference to older times. When such stupid sounds were scary. If you imagine the song being performed live, Schwadorf and Konstanz outfitted with their early 20th century clothes it gets even better.
And then Wolfmoon begins. In a malignant voice Konstanz sings about the full moon, its light cast on the moorlands where a young maiden still dwells. The music has a lower tempo, the traditional guitars, bass and drums accompanied by the instruments Shadows Philharmonic String Ensemble. It takes a while before you even notice the strings are there, but they contribute a lot to the atmosphere to the music. As the song goes on, the atmosphere gets more dramatic, the strings gain in importance. A high voiced woman joins Konstanz in singing. This song is of a different style than the previous one. But it is beyond doubt fitted for this album and this band, with its horror and little details to add mystery to the music. Wolfmoon was by the way the very first song I ever heard of The Vision Bleak, and I was sold after the first note.
The Vision Bleak continues to surprise and entertain throughout the entire album. The catchy chorus of Horror Of Antartica, “Tekeli-li, tekeli-li”, stays surprisingly long in the memory after listening to this song. In Elizabeth Dane we get the most creepy of all songs: it’s a piano dominated song, without real lyrics but with a whispering storyteller. He brings the contribution of his voice to that of the instruments, so I dare to call this one an instrumental. The other songs vary between fast, slow, hopeless and malignant, thrashy and melodic. It’s very hard to sit still while listening to this album. Your head will be banged. And yet you will enjoy the songs and their contents.
The Vision Bleak is a band of two experienced musicians. Both Konstanz and Schwadorf have been a member of several other bands and projects. And that can be heard on The Deathship Has A New Captain. The album has a very good sound: the guitars are played in (I have been told so by someone with more knowledge about instruments) “C-drop”, providing a dark and heavy sound for the music. And this heaviness makes you bang your head throughout most of the album. The vocals are, as already mentioned, very understandable and done by a deep voice. Sometimes just an omniscient observer of the stories in the songs, at other times a malignant spirit who enjoys the horror sung about. Because the lyrics can be understood very easy, the contents of the songs and their stories are of great weight on this album. The Vision Bleak thus provides both musical pleasure as well as storytelling entertainment.
I recommend The Vision Bleak to all fans of H.P. Lovecraft, lovers of dark atmosphere, those who like pompous names and everyone who enjoys good, catchy metal.
If you're going to create a gothic metal band, there is no shame in going all out, embracing both the genre's image and lyrical aesthetic. For their debut, The Vision Bleak did this in style, molding a campy image which summoned nostalgia for old black and white horror films. Lyrically, the band also adheres to the past, each track a tribute to the roots of horror, old Europe, and human suffering.
It all comes together quite nicely, especially when combined with the band's phenomenal production standards. Each of their albums is brazen, loud and heavy, with more crunch to the guitars than most other metal bands in any genre. Their debut, The Deathship Has a New Captain, opens with "A Shadow Arose"; a nice little narration and some operatic female vocals to establish a cheesy introduction. Soon the crushing guitar tone arrives, and then passes for the haunted house keys that open "Night of the Living Dead", which will bowl you over with its huge riffs and creepy verses. It's a great song for your Halloween costume party, you can mosh it up while you chug all the spiked punch. "Wolfmoon" is undeniably catchy, Ulf Theodor Schwadorf's deep gothic Germanic tones both lavish and horrific, you can tell why this was chosen for a video. Great song!
'Oh, young fair maid, did you not see, the moon is full tonight?
Run -don't walk- from the moorland, flee!
Before he is in sight...
To feast upon thy maiden flesh, to eat thy heart and soul.
Wolfmoon, Wolfmoon burning bright, through the forests of the night.'
"Metropolis" is a fine, crunchy tribute to the silent classic of the same, and "Elizabeth Dane" a somber tribute to The Fog. "Horror of Antarctica" is an atmospheric, gloomy bruiser which references an Edgar Allen Poe story. "The Lone Night Rider" is a crusher with some cheap and cute synths cutting through the dense riffage, followed by the even harder rocking of "The Grand Devilry". The final track "The Deathship Symphony" picks up the same narrator from the intro and then creates a gothic, operatic monument to celebrate the close of the debut.
'So if you hate it is his stage, he plays the wicked and the wretched
and if you hide you will fail to see the grand devilry!
He is the poison in our heart.
The flaming word in each poets art.'
Once again I must re-iterate how goddamn good this album sounds...the tones are unbelievable and every flight of orchestration and cheap creep synth is perfectly balanced. You might think the band is corny, but they are far heavier than other gothic metal acts and the songs are perfect for Autumn meandering thoughts and violent slam dancing. Schwadorf and Konstantz (aka Tobias Schönemann and Markus Stock) really show their experience here from other bands (Autumnblaze, Nox Mortis, etc) and create their most accomplished work yet. If you enjoy this, there is no reason not to track down their later albums as well, which are both very loyal to the vision and likewise excellent.
I first learned of them in the UK's Terrorizer magazine, when a free disc had final track of the album, The Deathship Symphony, somewhere towards the end of the CD. Being very impressed, I ordered the album and waited three or four weeks for it to arrive. What followed was one of the most amusing albums I have ever heard.
The album opens with a Cradle of Filth-esque filler track that isn't entirely despicable. I'm not a fan of intro tracks, especially when they try to be as misleading as this one. The first song, Night of the Living Dead, then kicks in, with a downtuned (well, technically they use seven stringed guitars) power chord driven riff that you will eventually recognise as The Vision Bleak's go-to weapon. The verses have a theremin (or a theremin-sound-a-like keyboard patch) over the bass guitar and drums. I'm unsure if it's intentional, but the rather upbeat quasi-pop verses sound a lot like Boris Pickett's Monster Mash to me. The juxtaposition between these verses and the heavy, downtuned chorus is something I find very comical, and this track probably best sums up the majority of the album. Which is just as much a bad thing as it is a good thing.
After you've heard Night of the Living Dead, you've heard most of what this album has to offer. And while the songs are genuinely catchy and fun (which is good if you like catchy and fun), and most songs have something to discern them from the rest, they mostly follow the same formula. Wolfmoon is similar in structure to Night of the Living Dead. Metropolis wins the coveted Most Obvious Rip-Off of Metallica's Sad But True Award, and is one of the only songs that deviates from the standard formula, with an almost doom metal chorus. Elizabeth Dane will most likely have you reaching for the skip button on your CD player. The band's style doesn't lend itself well to instrumental tracks.
Horror of Antarctica is Night of the Living Dead again. As is The Lone Night Rider, although this song has a repetitive keyboard melody over the chorus, along with some cool dual guitar work (the closest thing to real lead work on the album). The Grand Devilry is a fast, raw Night of the Living Dead (though this in itself makes the song quite cool in itself).
The reason I found this album so amusing when I first heard it (and didn't know what to think of it) was to do with the fact that my introduction to the band was the song The Deathship Symphony, and this isn't just the best track on the album, it is completely different from everything that came before it, to the point that I was very surprised at the rest of the album. The song is comparatively dark and heavier than the rest of the album, and with gothic touches. The vocals on the verses are handled by a tenor who is really quite good at his job, with the occasional appearance of harsh black-metal like vocals which are also performed very well. The section midway through the song is fantastic, very heavy and one of the few parts of the album where I feel compelled to bang my head like a madman. The song is big and epic, and while it's just as fun and catchy as the earlier tracks, it does come as a very welcome change. The biggest problem with this track is that it shows what the band is capable, and makes me wonder why they didn't spend more time venturing into this style or even other styles in the majority of the album.
The actual production and performance of the band is adequate. There are a couple of guitar solos, but they're not very good. The drums are basic, but keep time well, and don't do anything spectacular. The vocals are different from most bands I've heard, with simple catchy melodies sung in a low-key German accent. The guitar tone is great for the music - extremely distorted with scooped mids. It's a tone I normally loathe, but it suits the lower register and simple riffs of this album perfectly and does give it a raw edge.
If you want something fun that you can bob your head along to rather than bang your head along to, you can do a lot worse than this album. Sadly, you can do a lot better as well. The album has a cool vibe to it that's not common in metal music, but it's just too similar for most people to listen to in a full sitting. That said, the better tracks from the album (Night of the Living Dead, The Grand Devilry and The Deathship Symphony) are worth the full price of the album in my opinion.
The Vision Bleak is a Bavaria-based due consisting of Ulf Theodor Schwadorf (ex-Empyrium, Sun Of The Sleepless) and Allen B. Konstanz (ex-Nox Mortis, Ewigheim), and The Deathship Has A New Captain is their debut album, released in 2004. Schwadorf plays guitars and keyboards, and Konstanz plays drums and supplies most of the vocals, with a deep, clean, clearly enunciated vocal style something like Type O Negative’s Peter Steele. All lyrics are in English. The most important thing to say about The Vision Bleak is that they sound absolutely nothing at all like Schwadorf’s previous band, Empyrium. Empyrium began in 1994 as an Opeth-like doom metal band with symphonic leanings, and progressed over the course of their four-album career towards a magnificent all-acoustic neo-folk sound suffused with the spirit of the German Romantic literary and artistic tradition. The Vision Bleak are much more of a metal band, with a lyrical and aesthetic approach drawing on a number of different sources – gothic horror authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker and HP Lovecraft, early German silent cinema, later American horror films, the English Hammer horror films, and a blend of thrash metal, death metal and early goth-rock influences.
The Deathship Has A New Captain contains nine tracks totalling 41 minutes. The album opens with ‘A Shadow Arose’, a brief symphonic curtain-raiser with operatic soprano vocals courtesy of guest singer Dame Pandora of Dark Sanctuary. The Deathship really gets the wind in its sails, however, with the next track, ‘Night Of The Living Dead’, which is a demonically energetic homage, not only to George Romero’s classic Living Dead films, but also to the punky early days of goth rock – I’m thinking of bands like bands like The Misfits and The Damned. The Vision Bleak have always strenuously resisted being identified as a gothic metal band, despite the obvious gothic leanings of their subject matter, but this is because they don’t want to be lumped in with the anaemic aesthetes who have come to dominate the gothic metal genre nowadays, and I’m sure they’d feel no shame in being compared to the founding fathers of goth. A fast, dirty thrash riff is overlaid with spooky theremin for an instant crypt-kicking classic – the best track on the album, as far as I’m concerned. ‘Wolfmoon’ is next, slower and more symphonic, with female backing vocals. ‘Metropolis’, inspired by the famous Fritz Lang film of 1926, is a sermon based on the gospel according to Metallica, with a riff straight out of the Master Of Puppets period. ‘Elizabeth Dane’ is a cover version of John Carpenter’s theme music for his 1980 film The Fog, the Elizabeth Dane being the wrecked ship from which the drowned sailors return to exact their gruesome revenge on the seaport of Antonio Bay. The largely instrumental track is embellished with dialogue samples taken from the film. ‘Horror Of Antarctica’ is the first of several tracks within TVB’s discography to reveal their fascination with cult horror writer HP Lovecraft – the track is based on Lovecraft’s longest novella, At The Mountains Of Madness, which describes terrible, earth-shattering discoveries made by an Antarctic expedition. ‘The Lone Night Rider’ has become TVB’s most popular live track, and like most crowd-pleasers, it’s hardly sophisticated – a headbanger’s delight of chugging, mid-paced metal with a synth hook and a catchy chorus. ‘The Grand Devilry’ is heavier and less bouncy, again drawing on Metallica and perhaps some of the Swedish death metal bands like Therion, Dissection and Entombed. ‘Deathship Symphony’ is obviously intended as a grandiose showstopping production number, with operatic male and female vocals and orchestral string and brass accents – however, I prefer the less ornate pleasures of ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ and ‘The Lone Night Rider’.
Overall, though, Deathship… is a confident and varied debut, with a refreshingly innovative approach to horror-themed metal. The Vision Bleak amply succeed in their self-appointed mission to provide ‘creepy and haunting entertainment’.
This review was originally written for Judas Kiss webzine:
This is a truly great album that just screams character and appropriately fitting atmosphere. The rough vocals and the lyrics themselves really bring this album alive, as do the brilliantly used backing vocals and moments of unearthly speech. The horror theme is very well done and all the songs are perfectly fitting to it, with powerful bass backing up all the songs and really bringing them out. The first track builds up with a haunting piano solo and some captivatingly ghostly female vocals which really sets the feeling of the album before the rest of the instruments kick in with some menacing background male vocals.
Every song is powerful and entertaining, and there isn't a weak track throughout. The vocals are one of the most outstanding features of the album and fit brilliantly into place with the powerful use of instruments. With eerie background tunes accompanying theses songs they do not fail to impress on every level. The songs range from mighty powerful tunes to more slow and daunting symphonies with well dragged out vocals and accompanying instruments. I feel that this is a very original and entertaining album with interesting lyrics and an excellently executed horror theme that plays a part in all the songs, but not overly so that it becomes annoying or the only noticeable feature of the album.
This will make a worthwhile addition to anyone’s metal collection, regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the genre.
For want of a better, and altogether more kinder, way of describing this album... think of the better aspects of the majority of Cradle Of Filth's albums - ie the bits that are actually good and aren't drowned out in the OTT histrionics of Dani Filth - particularly those which create more atmosphere, and then add a sprinkling of Victorian macabre horror stories and vibes into the mix.
The songs on this album do each individually have the ability to shine as much if not more than those sat either side of it on the tracklisting. The only downside is, once you get more than two or three songs into the album, no matter how much perseverance you have, the songs all soon tend to blur together into a rather formulaeic strings-chug-tenor-chug-more strings kind of pattern, desensitizing the audience to the effect that the music could have the ability to have.
The by far and away best track on this album, which by coincidence perhaps, is the one being used to market the album - 'The Deathship Symphony'. This mixes the likes of orchaestral strings, Hammer Horror influenced electronica and the admittedly unique vocal approach of the resident Tenor employed for the occasion.
Overall a very good album, it's just a damn shame that listening to the tracks in playlist order, desensitizes you so much so that by the time you get to the best (and last) track on the album you don't really care anymore about anything the music has to say, which is a shame really because this is quite clearly the horror metal can be, without falling into the schlock-jokey horror of the likes of Necrophagia and Rob Zombie.