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The Bleak Vision – The Unknown album review

Bavaria’s boisterous goth rockers bolster their arsenal

The Vision Bleak, album cover

Fifteen years since this German duo’s debut EP, multi-instrumentalists Schwadorf and Konstanz have built up a solid reputation for elegant gloom with symphonic flair and literary horror influences.

It’s a well- worn combination, taking inspiration from goth-metal usual suspects like Paradise Lost, Tiamat and Katatonia, and while these names still spring to mind on The Unknown, it’s also clear TVB have widened their scope.

After an instrumental intro echoing John Carpenter’s Halloween theme, From Wolf To Peacock thrusts us into urgent, jittery rhythms, with crunching guitars and blastbeats overpowering ghostly synths. This continues throughout the album; despite Ancient Heart’s flamboyant acoustic mid-section, the song is an emphatic headbanger tempered in the purest steel, while The Whine Of The Cemetery Hound (they’re great at titles) is shuddering doom-death with a d-beat. These arrangements and performances display bags of musical nous, and it feels like on their sixth album these Bavarian eccentrics are only just hitting their stride.

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.