Just under two months ago we had reviewed the ep The Kindred Of The Sunset, with which The Vision Bleak had provided a valuable taste of what would be the sixth full length of a brilliant career that began at the dawn of the millennium. The two tracks that, in fact, constituted the real anticipation of The Unknown, namely The Kindred Of The Sunset and The Whine Of The Cemetery Hound, had provided more than a feeling that the direct and effective impact exhibited in Witching Hour would not be an isolated case, finding its ideal development in the new work. And so it was, since The Unknown can rightly be considered the best album ever recorded by the Bavarian duo, because, perhaps for the first time, Konstanz and Schwadorf explore without setting themselves any limits to all the nuances of the darkest metal, crossing with their vessel the ocean of notes that was ploughed in the last century by Paradise Lost, Type 0 Negative and Tiamat, and branding it with their unmistakable style. After a scant twenty minutes of listening, The Vision Bleak have already unleashed three songs, differing in mood and structure, that enter the ideal top ten of the best songs composed during their long history: the frenzied rhythms, bordering on black, supported by masterful guitar work and singing that is at times much more aggressive than usual, present in From Wolf To Peacock, are followed by the killer single The Kindred Of The Sunset, with a refrain that is difficult to erase from memory, and by a title track that encapsulates the essence of a compositional vis capable of providing ours’ sound, always and in any case, with a melodic and evocative outlet. Ancient Heart shifts the bar to more solemn and at times rarefied sonorities but, while being a good song, it remains all in all crushed by the value of those that precede and follow it, such as the already known The Whine Of The Cemetery Hound which, with its doom moods procession, once again brings the quality of the work back to its highest peaks. How Deep Lies Tartaros? could very well be a Rotting Christ song revisited in the manner of The Vision Bleak, stating its leaden epic vein that sublimates into a remarkable melodic progression, while it would be delinquent to consider the splendid instrumental that follows, Who May Oppose Me? as a mere interlude aimed at introducing the final track, The Fragrancy Of Soil Unearthed: here a doom soul peeps out again, which is sublimated especially in its second half, bringing to fruition a magnificent work, which definitively consecrates The Vision Bleak as one of the leading bands among those currently active and devoted to a melodically obscure form of metal. Complementing the overall quality of a work like The Unknown (for which it is almost pleonastic to cite a perfect production), one should also not forget a lyrical contribution that draws on the tradition of Gothic literature, starting with that Edgar Allan Poe who is paid homage to in the brief intro Spirits Of Dead, in which the first stanza of his youthful poem of the same name is replayed. In short, there is no ingredient missing to make the latest offspring of Konstanz and Schwadorf’s morbid musical creativity one of the must-listenings for anyone looking for emotionally engaging and qualitatively impeccable music, not least because, frankly, it is very difficult to find better today.

2016 – Prophecy Productions