The Vision Bleak

support Saturnus + Dordeduh
author EW date 06/10/13 venue Boston Music Rooms, London, UK

A triumvirate of styles from three different European countries was what awaited for those attending the 'Witching Hours Over Europe' in London at a disappointingly sparsely populated Boston Music Rooms. First up was the key creative element of Romania's Negură Bunget now under the guise of Dordedeuh...

All photos taken by Teodora Dani


...who follow on the finest NegBun tradition of towing along a welter of instruments to most accurately portray their earthy, native sound. What makes this even more commendable is the short span with which these pieces are used - the incredible tulnic horns and semantron form the centrepiece of the introduction only while the xylophone is used sparingly throughout. Considering the band also employ a full-time keyboardist it really does put to shame folk/pagan acts like Equilibrium and Arkona who play without a one despite its importance to their sound.

Of course, such a variety of instruments still need playing and Dordeduh use this variety of sound in the creation of raw, atmospheric black metal with significant acoustic interjection - or at least as atmospheric as can be when the house lights are left on during the set by a wildly incompetent lights man (more of which to come later). In whichever guise frontman Hupogrammus has never been the most charismatic of band leaders as is his wont to let the music do the talking - anyone who knows his latter Negură Bunget material should be aware of how potent this is - and so in result Dordeduh can seem a little distant on stage when performing but the variance in feeling across their 45 minute set assured their warm reception from those that were here to witness them.



Danish doomsters Saturnus were next up on this varied bill and for a band who come highly rated from this was my first chance to see them live. A lot has been made of their truthful take on the death/doom template in a scene where meeting the minimum standards of slow despair can sometimes be too easily achieved but the closing pairing, especially closer "Christ Goodbye", proved that Saturnus need not worry about this judgement. The forthright and epic nature of these two provided an opportunity to revel in the power and grace of such well written riffs played in 1st gear, a joy given the difficulty in distinguishing the finer subtleties of live music played at metal's typical breakneck speeds.

I sometimes need to remind myself that such despairing music doesn't need to have depressive performances on stage - growling vocalist Thomas Jensen and keyboardist Mika Filborne clearly enjoyed having the biggest attendance of the night with a consummate quota of headbanging coming from their consummately-haired guitarists. After over-coming inaudibly quiet vocals at the start and persisting throughout with a light show that consisted of two static green lights that gave an alien inflection to any caught standing in them Saturnus departed with their reputation having grown in my mind and, in what is probably a first for any death/doom band, finding myself unable to not whistle the lead riff in "Christ Goodbye" for the remainder of my evening.

The Vision Bleak

Germans The Vision Bleak come with a reputation for genre-bending with commonly recommended comparators being Rammstein and Type O Negative, which is apt on the basis of the structures and vocal patterns which subtly lie at the heart of their music. Gothic overtones are scattered around their darkly curious tomes, which at times peddle riffs a stoner band may like to call their own, or at others enough of a rhythmic crunch to recall Machine Head in my mind and for much of the rest the darkly gothic vibe of Peter Steele & co. Coupling this with a Victorian/horror theme to their dress (at least those of vocalist Konstanz and guitarist Schwadorf, the rest being live musicians) the Vision Bleak don't lack for context, but it took a good portion of this set for me to become accustomed to what they were attempting. Firstly, the vocal delivery of Konstanz felt weak and unable to rise atop the music, a point that as much reflects my inexperience with the band as much as his choice of live delivery, but which took until the latter stages to begin sounding 'right' in my ears. And then the guitar tone which I alluded to earlier - I hardly need voice my desire for variety in a live show any more than I already have in previous reviews, but feeling like each song was the work of a different band to the list made for difficulty in sensing a connection with the band.

At least this was until a better groove started to emanate from the fingers of Schwadorf and his cohorts through the second half of their set when even a newbie like myself suddenly found the tempo and consistency of the songs a lot more encouraging. It was by this point that the band were playing to an emptying room, the lure of getting home on a Sunday night of high importance to many it seemed, which was a pity as the reception from those still around for their concluding tracks confirmed in my mind what had been their strongest part of the set and left the night finishing on a positive note. Through the most basic of light shows and creeping sound issues to a venue that never approached full capacity the result was three bands of differing styles all putting on a strong account of themselves in what was one of those underground metal gigs to which I feel pleased at having attended, regardless of the grades you may find in this review.

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