You would assume by now I would have stopped thinking "I am really not a big fan of gothic metal" before I begin checking out a new Napalm Records release clearly marked as being of that musical style. More often than not I end up finding said releases to be more than tolerable, and often quite good. While "The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey" by Germany's THE VISION BLEAK did not blow my mind or anything, I did find it relatively captivating and chock-full of catchy tunes. Dynamic duo Theodor Schwadorf and Allen B. Konstanz obviously put some work into "The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey". They've succeeded in making a gothic metal album that is filled with the kind of atmosphere and chilling keyboards that one would expect, while pumping up their anthems of horror with heavy guitars and muscular rhythms. In other words, the metal part of "gothic metal" is emphasized.For every fat (sometimes even thrashy) riff and pummeling drum pattern, there is a memorable refrain, most aptly demonstrated by "She-Wolf" and perhaps the catchiest track, "The Demon of the Mire", both of which come with lots of chug and those all-important TYPE O NEGATIVE/SISTERS OF MERCY vocals. In both cases too, keyboards are often treated as a secondary instrument, providing enhancement and letting the guitars/drums do the heavy lifting. But before things become too predictable, the morose pair brings "The Black Pharaoh Trilogy". Said trilogy includes the Middle Eastern flourishes and marching rhythm of "Introduction", the driving "Part I: The Shining Trapezohedron" (with cool acoustic bit), and the epic sounding "Part II: The Vault of Nephren-ka" with its Egyptian and choral effects. The riff crush resumes with "The Eldrich Beguilement". Both "Evile is of Old Date" and "By Our Brotherhood with Seth" offer more of the same, albeit with effective touches like backing shouts and acoustic slivers. "The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey" offers just enough depth and gothic feel to make one appreciate the arranging involved, and incorporates enough metallic muscle and melody to pull in some folks that may not otherwise check out such an album. I'll leave the nitpicking to the purists.
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