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A fun guilty pleasure that gets old quickly - 63%

Karamunga, October 2nd, 2008

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.