The first track, "Theboilerroom," makes it clear that Bleak is hardly a radical reinvention on Vanportfleet's part, with his trademark dark squall of heavily echoed and layered guitar brought quite to the fore. The big change here instead lies in the rhythm; instead of the steady reverb drum machine march from most Lycia tracks, massive rumblings and bass roars propel the music forward. It's not quite techno, but in its own undanceably rhythmic way it has a definite something to it. Vanportfleet sings in his deathly whisper as always, but feeds his vocals through extra electronic distortion to create an even more distanced effect. Not all of Vane follows in such a particular vein, but for every more familiar Lycia element there's something extra -- more electronic noises, a playing down of the guitar in favor of other instruments, odd drum patterns -- to mitigate against any of this being simply the equivalent of outtakes from the main band's work. A fair chunk of Vane is solely instrumental as well, another distinction from Lycia's mostly lyric-accompanied work. While the album has been described as industrial, only a couple of songs have that heavy-duty drum workout which defines the genre, such as "Invain." It is more accurate to say that Bleak allows Vanportfleet and Galas to kick out some unexpected jams; it may be the closest they'll ever get to rocking out all the way, and they do so with style and talent.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett