In the ever-dowsing eye of western Washington state-based heavy metal duo Vision Master a substantial detailing of spineless uprisings, eye-popping horrors and thunderous retreat from fateful battles act as color-rich sights for their narrative-driven brand of thrashing n’ wailing high fantasy adventure. Rooted by the ease of ancient heavy rock and the tension of most-classic heavy metal traditions their debut EP ‘Orb‘ manifests its imaginative craft enriched by a shared love for a broad spectrum of metalpunk intensity and far out retro-metal storytellers alike, making for an energetic and odd-angled prophetic reveal. The four songs on offer here are well worth showing up for if you’re one for the weirding dimension of traditional heavy metal rather than the dry stock of the status quo.

As far as I know this is the first release we’ve gotten from former Funerot members Dan Munro and Rueben Storey (Horrible, Lords of Quarmall, ex-Christian Mistress) in just over a decade and though I doubt they intend to reprise that particular energy, the style they’re jamming on ‘Orb’ should generally appeal to folks who’d stuck with that project beyond ‘Invasion From the Death Dimension‘. The spiral-toothed slug that Vision Master attaches to my brain suggests a sort of Demon Bitch or Slough Feg-esque brand of tumbling post-70’s Lizzy guitar rock (“Forbidden Lake”) meets the NWOBHM influenced peak of ‘Where Legend Began’-era English Dogs (see: opener “Invertebrate March”), with plenty of hard angled riffs that speak to the traditional heavy metal jut of pre-’85 thrash metal without reading as pure guitar music. Solid as the riff and rhythm of ‘Orb’ is the shred of these songs isn’t all they’ve got to sustain the experience throughout these four 4-6 minute songs — Vision Master‘s always charged up bard-on-a-horse style of presentation is likely what’ll stick to most listener’s brains best after a few runs.

Munro‘s spoken-sung vocal smartly paces itself in turns with his impeccably placed guitar arrangements on the energizing “Run to the Lighthouse” where an important part of this punkish power-metalled fantasy feel rests upon the twisted development of the verse riffs and the strong reveal of the quick and neat chorus. For my own taste the vocal soar most on “Vision Master” as the grunting personae that kicks things off lands somewhere between “Wake Up Dead”-level snarling and peak Rollins-era Black Flag‘s psychotic exasperation beneath a buttery smooth late 70’s (or, early 2000’s revisionist) heavy metal groove flinging itself out over Storey‘s drumming which I’d say reaches its most kicking high as the song itself peaks in its last third. Folks who live for obscure heavy metal with loads of personality and songcraft set high above the usual imitative style already see what I’m getting at here; Vision Master have managed a memorable, pleasantly unusual approach to a familiar sort of traditional (but not-so traditional) heavy metal storytelling on this debut EP. The care and enthusiasm put into each of these four songs shows within even a casual listen and the energy supplied by the duo’s performances becomes infectious when left on repeat for a few spins at a time. Throw in an extra handful of leads and a few hits of harmony and it’d all really light me on fire. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
LABEL(S):C.B. Centauri Productions
RELEASE DATE:August 27th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Heavy Metal

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