Vision of Mara plays a symphonic style of black metal with an emphasis on keyboards for atmosphere. Unfortunately the keyboards dominate the sound of the album and really detract from the music. Rarely do the keyboards subside and leave room for the rest of the instruments. That being said, you can hear the rest of the instruments very well the entire time since the music was recorded skillfully, it’s just that the keyboards are so overpowering that you almost forget the rest of the music.
Digging through the keyboards is a more generic black metal sound—distorted guitars and raspy vocals. The guitar riffs attempt to convey an eerie, evil, and sometimes melancholic mood yet they are repeated to death on the album. The song structure for the most part is quite plain and repetitive, usually following an ABABC and then sometimes D riff structure. On average, each song contains one riff that is interesting. Some of these riffs offer a more folky mood because of triplets, or a slightly battle like feel. The overall sound of the album is a bit thin because the guitars mostly play tremoloed riffs on one string and there is little bass.
The drumming on the album gets the job done, and highlights the mid-tempoed black metal, mostly with double bass lines. If the drummer had employed the black metal style blast beat more the album would have a more energetic feel. The vocals sound slightly weak even though the vocalist tries to keep them varied. This also adds to the less-than-full sound.
Vision of Mara feels like a band that is still trying to find their sound. A bit more passion and much less reliance on the keyboards are needed here to take this band to the next level. At least the band keeps the songs relatively short. There are no 10 minute epics here to bore the listener. The outro is a really great song that only uses keyboards. It gives that great atmosphere that is lacking in the rest of the album. It’s an example of how the great songwriting ability is there, but just not coming though in the right ways on this album.
The material that Vision of Mara has on their myspace for their next EP is much more promising. It has less obnoxious keyboards, more blast beats, more powerful vocals, and much smoother and more passionate songwriting.