THE VISION BLEAK "Under The Witch's Spell"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Even in our modern age of technological monstrosity and dehumanization, there remains an eldritch connection to the mysteries and horrors of old. It is this connection that The Vision Bleak so brilliantly exploits with its dark, brooding odes.
The good gentlemen Konstanz and Schwadorf are of another age of sinister legends, creeping madness and classic horror. An age of witchcraft!

This two man German outfit is one of my favorite bands. They keep the metal aspect of their music to the forefront, but the atmospheres are truly Gothic and not afraid to partake of something grander than mere rock music. Their music is a celebration of vampirism, Poe, Lovecraft and Hawthorne. But with their latest opus "Witching Hour", they celebrate the feminine side of the occult, the witch!

I traveled to the crumbling castle of Schwadorf somewhere in the Black Forest of Bavaria, where we discussed the arts of both horror and metal, as well as the eternal allure of the witch. Although I felt rather like Renfield at times, Schwadorf proved to be a more amenable host than Dracula...although I noticed he never drank wine.

Here, then, is a slice of our conversation...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Hail to you! Herr Doktor Abner Mality from Wormwood Chronicles here. I’m delighted to speak to you, as I consider you one of the best horror-influenced bands working today. Regarding your new album “Witching Hour”, there was a fairly long gap between this and your previous record “Set Sail To Mystery”. Was this necessary for the composition of “Witching Hour” or did you just need to “re-charge” your batteries?

SCHWADORF: Hails and thanks for the nice words! Yeah, re-charging batteries was one of the reasons but also my "comeback" activity with my other project Empyrium that kept me quite busy was another reason. But it was all good since it made it easy to come back with a fresh mind to The Vision Bleak's Universe....

WC:“Witching Hour” deals with the female side of horror…the witch. When did you decide you wanted to deal with this concept?

S: This was something that has been slumbering in me for quite some time. Initially I just wanted to compose songs and lyrics that dealt with that classic fairy tale picture I had in mind: "A forest, full moon, a witch" - but relatively soon I realized that the theme offers so much diversity that it'd be cool to make a complete concept record about witches.

WC: It seems like you dove deeply into the witchcraft lore of many countries for the new album…Russia, Germany, Ireland. How important was it for you to look at the concept of the witch from different lands?

S: Once we settled on the concept ,I started reading in my books and also on the net to find themes that would fit well into our universe. I found a lot of inspiration and settled finally on the themes you'll find on the album simply because they were great to put into songs... not so much because they are from different countries. These have simply been the themes that I found to be the most fitting for our course...

WC: Did you get an education doing some of the research for “Witching Hour”? Did you learn some things you didn’t know before?

S: Of course! Doing research always brings you to new fascinating topics you haven't known before. The Baba Yaga for example - I knew of her existence in Russian folklore before but once I went deeper into the topic I have been really fascinated by this entity...

WC: This album seems to be your heaviest and most aggressive. What was it that “brought out the beast” in you this time around?

S: This time around we only followed our gut feeling and most of the songs have been composed on guitar so it's naturally pretty riff-oriented. But I think it's pretty much also our most atmospheric record and contains the most uplifing part we ever wrote (in "The Valkyrie") as well - so it offers quite some diversity. But we really wanted the album to have this rock/guitar vibe this time around to keep things fresh.

WC: I’d like to understand A Vision Bleak’s personal philosophy of horror. Horror is something you’ve dealt with from day one, but it’s rooted in the classic and “Gothic” instead of endless gore and suffering. What to you is the essence of the horror you try to explore?

S:The Atmospherics! The classic pictures in your head of foggy graveyard grounds, dark woods, witch-huts wreathed by skulls and bones, etc.. You know, it's all about evoking pictures in YOUR mind....that is the essence of The Vision Bleak. That, and some heavy rocking riffage!

WC: Do you believe it is the unseen that is more terrifying than the seen ?

S: Abso-fucking-lutely!

WC: Have either of you gentlemen ever experienced the supernatural or paranormal yourself? Do you even believe in it?

S:I strongly believe in it and had some paranormal experiences as well. Actually, I know there's a world unseen by human eye. The truth is out there. Just open the eyes of your soul...

WC: What is the writing process like for A Vision Bleak? Do you start with music first or is the lyrical idea that comes first?

S: This is absolutely dependent on the song and often the idea for a riff or a song and it's lyrical theme come at the same time to me. A certain riff might trigger something within my mind which immediately brings me to the lyric topic. Sometimes, like in the song "The Valkyrie" for example I have this lyric idea and pretty much build the song around that. So it depends.

WC: You are very comfortable as a duo. Has any thought ever been given to expanding the band or are you content to just do that for live purposes only?

S: The Vision Bleak will always be Konstanz and me in the studio and our great extra members for live performances. It just works out great this way!

WC:The video you guys did for “The Wood Hag” is a top notch production. How much input did you have in this? How painstaking was the creation of it?

S:The video was done by our friend and artist Fursy Teyssier from France. We had input of course on the storyline and the atmospherics we wanted but he did the complete production on his own and we were delighted to see the result! HE spent two months building. dressing and moving puppets and on creating the sets so it was pretty painstaking, I think - but he did a formidable job! We couldn't be happier for sure...

WC:I love the “Claymation” look of the video, it is very reminiscent of “A Nightmare Before Christmas”. Was that your intent from the start?

S: Yeah, it has some Tim Burton resemblances...not necessarily a bad thing, I think! But like mentioned above, this was Fursy's work and he should be credited for it!

WC: You seem to have a very good relationship with Prophecy Records. Are you content to stay there or would you entertain offers from other labels?

S: We are content with Prophecy and will likely stay on that label. We have offers from other labels as well but Martin is a long time friend and business partner and we can trust him - that's the most important thing to us.

WC:What are the live plans for “Witching Hour”? Any chance you will ever play in the U.S.?

S: We just came back from a European tour with label mates Dordeduh and old-school doomers Saturnus. Great experience and great shows all over Europe! I am afraid there are no plans to come to the U.S. right sorry guys!

WC: If you could ask any three people from history to dinner, who would they be?

S:That would be Lord Byron, Goethe and Poe (I'd not invite Lovecraft since he wouldn't enjoy himself - he was a loner, you know). For after dinner I'd like to talk to Nophretete, hehehe...

WC: What was the last CD or release you got just because you wanted to hear it?

S: Ulver's new album "Messe". Awesome!

WC: What was the last live show you saw just because you wanted to check out the band?

S:I am not going so much to concerts. The last show I saw where I didn't play myself and just went to see the band was Maiden in Ludwigshafen a couple years ago...

WC: Has there ever been any “Spinal Tap” moment in the history of A Vision Bleak that you could share with us?

S:There have been tons but most of them I can't remember because, you know, delirium is our best deceiver...

WC:Any last words for the fans?

S:If you like your Metal energetic and atmospheric at the same and you are into mystery, horror and poetry at the same - check out "Witching Hour". Thank you so much!