Review Summary: Moonspell meets Therion and Type O Negative ina heads up crash where only Dr. Manhattan can same them.
The Deathship Has A New Captain is The Vision Bleak’s second full length record and in my opinion will never be topped by the band. The Vision Bleak is a German metal band formed by ex members of Empyrium and Nox Mortiis who’s sole desire was to create and perfect a strain of aggressive metal with heavy theatrical and horror film based elements hence the term given to them as horror metal. The Deathship Has A New Captain is undoubtedly one of the most unique modern metal records to date thanks in part to diversified songwriting, haunting yet powerful arrangements, impressive musicianship, and a hard to pin down sound thanks to a smattering fusion of dark wave, heavy metal, neo-classical, and gothic rock.
The band has two full time members not including the sterling contributions of luminous Dark Sanctuary singer Dame Pandora. Ulf Theodor Schwadorf of ex Empyrium fame contributes to playing the guitars, keyboard/piano, and bass playing as well as the songwriting process. While Allen B. Konstantz is left to provide the vocals, drumming, and layering keyboards. The two musicians work extremely well with one another, complementing each others movements with subtle and timely placed instrumentation. If I could summarize to you what The Vision Bleak sounds like in a brief moment, I could lead you to believe that they are Dracula’s own personal entertainment consisting of members from Moonspell, Type Of Negative, Dark Sanctuary, and Therion. While the humans are being raised and harvested for the nights special ceremony, The Vision Bleak serve as the headlining entertainment for the aristocratic, castle dwelling legions of darkness.
The vocals, one of my favorite aspects about the album are split up favorably between the deep German accented baritone vocals of Allen and the stunning female operatic vocals of Dame. Both styles compare and contrast perfectly, weaving through deep, synth ridden atmospheric flourishes and jagged guitar sections. Allen’s voice brings to mind a young Peter Steel being cloned with Fernando Ribeiro in a Bavarian scientific facility far, far away. There are some harsh vocals applied although minimal. The closing track Deathship Company which also happens to be the heaviest and most extreme song on the album features a little bit of everything. Male/female operatic vocals blend into the baritone draw before erupting into a raspy growl that gives the listener a taste of the dark and brutal. The lyrics themselves seem to be presented from all angles of the classic horror films we all know and love. ‘The Night Of the Living Dead” is, well, about the night of the living dead. The zombies rise up from their graves to the irresistible urge of consuming humans while the track “Wolfmoon’ would have served perfectly to any of the Underworld flicks.
The guitars position on the album is too provide heavy rhythmic patterns and Ulf fails to deliver anything less than satisfactory. The simple groove metal approach while standard, flows smoothly with the pugnacious vocals resulting in a balls out heavy metal record with a flair for the dramatic. I rarely ever commend a band about their integration of heavy keyboards into heavy music but I will pay my respects to the duo. The keys provide ominous undertones that are rich in texture and filled with bite well as providing a dark shade of atmosphere without forcing their way in uninvited. Maybe keyboards work better in genres where painting dark and ominous colorings are commonly embraced by all, I don’t know but the synth effects are surely effective here. The rest of the instruments, bass and drumming fall under the least impressive aspects of the album. But in an album who’s strength lies in the vocals and solemn keyboard rich atmosphere, virtuosic drumming and bass tapping don’t really fit the criteria. That’s not to say either of the two musicians here are musically incompetent, it’s just that technicality and speed fall to second place behind feeling and rhythm.
The album weighs in at nine tracks at just over forty minutes of material meaning The Vision Bleak have ignored pretentious song lengths in favor of more compact and precipice compositions. They also boast a reasonable number of tracks on this album boosting the quality of each one instead of relying on filler to saturate and degrees the power of the album. The production of the album is generally efficient with the exception to the closing track which feels a bit fuzzy and muffled. The vocals at times can be a little claustrophobic but the riffs and keyboards sound extremely well handled. Overall not as clean or polished as their 2007 release ‘The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey”, The Deathship Has A New Captain” is quite a bit heavier and more dynamic than it’s predecessor.