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After the brilliant masterpiece "Carpathia - A dramatic poem", my expectations towards this album were surely elevated. I also knew that the band would probably not be able to recreate such an intense album but I hoped that their third official output would at least have the same quality as the diversified debut album. When I heard that this album would contain several songs about ancient Egyptian mythology and wolf stories, I was really excited because as a history and geography student and big fan of horror novels in general and especially werewolf stories, those two topics are among my favourites.
But musically, this album is a little deception. The band decided to do a heavier album than the previous one and erased most of the symphonic instruments and dramatic structures. The great and diversified "Black pharaoh trilogy" and the very catchy Horror Metal hymn and brilliant live song "By our brotherhood with Seth" are surely really good stuff, but the rest of the songs prefers to go in a Thrash Metal direction.
The band is ready to sacrifice the style and uniqueness it created with the first two outputs to addict some more ordinary metal fans with heavier songs. The opening double "Amala and Kamala" and "She-wolf" is a very heavy, straight and dark opener and has a catchy chorus melody but it doesn't have the atmosphere and magic that fans were used to know from this band. The new songs are less inspiring and the band even repeats itself within the songs. "The demon of the mire" wants to proof to the metal world that Horror or Gothic Metal can be really straight and heavy, but the song is way too long and doesn't offer any surprises, intelligent creations or intense moments within almost seven minutes. It is surely the worst song on the album and maybe the worst one that this band has ever written. For a band with normal standards, this song would be a good average song, but for a high quality band like The Vision Bleak, this song is way below their talents and possibilities. "The eldritch beguilement" isn't much better and sounds almost like a Megadeth song in the beginning and has much in common with "The demon of the mire". At least, the band follows a certain pattern on this album that I would call Gothic Thrash Metal. What saves this song and makes it a little bit more interesting is the well done guitar solo towards the end. But usually, I don't listen to this band because of an interesting guitar solo. "Evil is of old date" goes into the same direction but has at least a very interesting dark and doom introduction that raises the tension before you feel a little bit confused and sad as the song turns once again into a heavier and "thrashier" piece.
It is a sure thing that the band didn't want to copy itself on this album and create something new. This is an innovating idea and very courageous and I have the greatest respect for this decision.
But I don't get a positive approach to the new heavy or thrash style and prefer the more traditional songs like the three parts of the Black Pharaoh Trilogy and the excellent album closer.
For those who found the band interesting on the last albums but thought that they were not dirty or heavy enough, they will surely like this album but those ones who appreciated the first two albums entirely will have some difficulties with the direction of this album.
As I only like four out of nine songs, I must consider this album as an average record and the band's weakest effort until now. This is the only band's output that I don't regularly listen to. Personally, I am very happy that the band didn't exactly follow the pattern of this album and created a more traditional and yet very interesting follow up three years later.
It seems that some people sometimes make a fuzz about whether a band should or shouldn’t “change its sound, its direction, …” to keep things interesting for the listener. One could agree with that: after four or five CDs with songs in the same genre, style, riffing and use of vocals could get boring. So bands must be sure to change direction every once in a while.
Or they mustn’t. Stick to the formula that works. If I want change in music, I’ll just put on another band’s album. The Vision Bleak seems to have shared my thoughts on this matter, because the haven’t changed much. Even the artwork hasn’t changed: both “The Deathship Has A New Captain” and “Carpathia – A Dramatic Poem” have that peculiar yellow colour of withered paper. And so, “The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey” has the same theme for the cover. An etching of two wolves ready to jump on an innocent woman set in a paper-yellow picture frame. Trivia: the name of the album comes from a line in the title song of “Carpathia”.
So the artwork is the same, but how beautiful or awesome it may be, it’s about the music we should start talking. So has the music, just as the artwork, remained the same? More or less, but some changes have been made: female vocals have disappeared. The same goes for the keyboards (on “The Deathship Has A New Captain”) and the symphonic elements from “Carpathia” only make an appearance in the introduction to the “Black Pharaoh Trilogy”. But the style hasn’t changed a lot, the band now uses only what sounds they can make themselves: guitars, bass, drums and their own voices. Konstanz still sounds like someone who has seen unspeakable things he shouldn’t have and Schwadorf still riffs as if challenging you to bang your head all the time.
The songs themselves are once again filled with mystery and supernatural horror, which was what attracted me to this band in the first place because I had recently discovered the genre in literature. The “Black Pharaoh Trilogy” is based on the short story by Lovecraft, “The Haunter of the Dark”. They even quoted from it: when I read the story and saw “the three lobbed burning eye”, the song began playing in my head. Which is a good sign.
So, let’s conclude: is this album inventive or does it bring something entirely new? Not really. Is it a good album? Absolutely! Schwadorf and Konstanz stuck to their old formula and succeeded in creating a perfect soundtrack for horror stories. “Carpathia” was slightly better, but that’s due to the symphonic elements incorporated there.
Catchy and competent. That's what this album is. The Vision Bleak didn't try to make a masterpiece or an intelligent record with this piece. They just tried to make it compelling and interesting. And they succeeded.
After giving the album a spin, my first impression was that this album has one of the best productions ever. And that is surprising because The Vision Bleak isn't a very well known metal band and, normally, that type of bands get their albums produced awfully. Fortunately, The Wolves Go Hunt their Prey is an exception.
What benefits the most of the production are the guitars. They sound raw, aggressive and LOUD. All the rest is well mixed and even the bass is audible. The drums sound amazing too.
The songwriting is simple. Almost every song follows the same structure of verse-chorus-verse-chorus. However, that turns out to be a good thing - many bands try to make catchy albums and fail, but The Vision Bleak proves here that can make catchy records without compromising their quality.
There are two types of vocals on the record: the clean ones and the harsh ones. About the clean ones, they sound very operatic. Ok, the vocalist isn't Bruce Dickinson, but he isn't Varg Vikernes either. About the harsh vocals, they are competent, but less used than the clean ones.
Highlights of the album? First of all, The Black Pharaoh Trilogy, which is made of three different songs. Part I, the intro, is, surprisingly, my favourite part of this epic. It begins with atmospheric guitars, the song becomes heavier when the drums kick in and there is a very interesting breakdown, where many Egyptian instruments are used. In fact, those instruments are also played on the other parts of the trilogy, adding a great atmosphere to the tracks.
She-Wolf is another personal favourite. Good main riff and solo, and a chorus that is CATCHY as hell, featuring both clean and harsh vocalists singing at the same time. Demon of the Mire is competent too, with the inclusion of some blast-beats. It has a lengthy instrumental introduction, with some good riffs here and there. By our Brotherhood with Seth is another highlight.
-Heavy guitar riffs.
-Drum patterns that, despite being simple, are fine and varied.
-Audible bass and excellent production.
-Catchy choruses and songwriting.
That's what you can expect from this piece. Are you tired of listening to too complex and demanding records? Try this and relax a bit.
One last word to the artwork, which is simply awesome and fits the album title very well.
EDIT: Just removed some points, since now I'm a bit tired of this record. It still deserves a positive rating, though.
From deep within the Franconian forests, those masters of the macabre Ulf Theodor Schwadorf and Allen B. Konstanz emerge with their third album, scheduled for release in early September 2007, and it’s their strongest and most focused work yet. Continuity with the past is implied in the title The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey, which is taken from a line in the title track of the last album, Carpathia. However, the new album finds The Vision Bleak emphasising their thrash and death metal roots, with fewer symphonic frills and curlicues than on Carpathia.
The album, containing nine tracks which total 43 minutes, opens with the sombre fanfare of ‘Amala & Kamala’, a snare drum beating out a slow march as Schwadorf’s guitar salutes the faithful in the manner of Hammerheart-era Bathory. The title is a reference to two famous wolf-girls, discovered living a feral existence with wolves in India in 1920. The tempo, riffs and guitar solo of ‘Amala & Kamala’ hearken back to the glory days of Metallica and classic 80s thrash. The next track, ‘She-Wolf’, continues the lupine theme of the album, but is faster and dirtier, again recalling Metallica, with a full-throated, choppily aggressive attack. ‘The Demon Of The Mire’ is among the most unambiguously death metal tracks so far produced by The Vision Bleak, although it features orchestral strings, brass and harp. Imagine if you can Slayer crossed with Danzig, and you won’t be far off.
The next three tracks, collectively entitled ‘The Black Pharaoh Trilogy’, form the centrepiece of Wolves…, and they find The Vision Bleak returning to the cult American horror writer HP Lovecraft for inspiration. The first section of the trilogy, simply entitled ‘Introduction’, is an atmospheric scene-setter, with crashing gongs and sitar evoking a mood of oriental exoticism similar to that of Carpathia’s ‘The Curse Of Arabia’. Fans of Nile will love this, and I was also reminded of The Meads Of Asphodel, who’ve produced plenty of work with a middle-eastern flavour. ‘Part I: The Shining Trapezohedron’, which takes its title from Lovecraft, employs some ethereal female backing vocals, though it’s noticeable that in general Wolves… uses female vocals much more sparingly than either of the previous two TVB albums, presumably in a attempt to escape the ‘gothic metal’ tag which the band have been so keen to reject. The final section of ‘The Black Pharaoh Trilogy’ is ‘Part II: The Vault Of Nephren-Ka’, which maintains the prevailing mood of creeping doom and primordial menace, with slow, choppy riffs intermingled with choral vocals. A lengthy middle passage overlays deep ambient synth tones with acoustic guitar and orchestral accents, before Schwadorf launches into an electric guitar solo.
‘The Eldrich Beguilement’ is another slab of gothed-up death metal, solid but less compelling than ‘She-Wolf’ or ‘The Demon Of The Mire’. ‘Evil Is Of Old Date’ opens with deep, doom-laden bass notes over suspenseful cymbal work, before picking up pace with an aggressive riff reminiscent of Unleashed or Amon Amarth, though the bass work is the most striking feature of this track. The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey closes in triumphal style with the anthemic ‘By Our Brotherhood With Seth’, which is likely to become a TVB signature tune along the lines of ‘The Lone Night Rider’. Lyrically, it’s an extension of the themes of ‘The Black Pharaoh Trilogy’, with references to the mythology of the ancient Egyptians, for whom Seth (or Set) was a personification of evil and destruction.
As with previous TVB releases, the art direction of The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey is of a very high standard, with an evocative cover image showing wolves lurking in ambush as an unsuspecting traveller approaches. The album is available in both a standard edition and a deluxe two-disc edition, containing a bonus live DVD and a coupon for ordering an exclusive T-shirt and free patch.
This review was originally written for Judas Kiss webzine: