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Friday 31 July 2020

Reviews: Valkyrie, Night In Gales, Drops Of Heart, Solemnity (Matt & Liam)

Valkyrie: Fear (Relapse Records) [Matt Bladen]

Being a person who is permanently stuck in the late 60's/70's mindset anything that harks back to those days of the post summer of love downturn when drugs and rebellion reigned, is alright by me. (Thus my love for the Goldray album). That music that accompanied Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper on the back of those choppers in 1969, often heavy riffing biker rock with psychedelic flourishes and instrumental jams that turn the songs on their head. Valkyrie play the sort of music that influenced heavy metal, it's been called proto-metal but Valkyrie owe more to the stoner and doom off shoots with tracks like The Choice taking things into spacey realms on a low end led doom undercurrent. You can hear elements of The Sword, The Obsessed, Windhand and ASG as the songs fluctuate between thundering stoner riffs and hard rock grooves with glorious twin guitar harmonies.

Fear is their first album in 5 years and it expands their progressive sounds once again adding the fluid melodies on Fear And Sacrifice and the mind altering wooziness on Brings You Down. Recorded in analog it's brimming with that early organic warmth of albums committed to vinyl, without the need for tinkering it's pretty much as you hear it allowing the band to kick out some masterful jams where the songs seem to take on a life of their own. With the proto-metal sound so gloriously back in fashion Valkyrie return after 5 years with a album of heavy rocking for long hairs everywhere. 8/10

Night In Gales: Dawnlight Garden (Apostasy Records) [Matt Bladen]

Now we've mentioned this a few times but melodic death metal or melodeath as it's shortened too. Is usually the reserve of the Swedes, so known for the genre are they that sometimes the melodeath sound is categorized as just Swededeath or hailing from the "Gothenburg Scene". There are of course exceptions to the rule with Night In Gales being one such exception as they come from Voerde/Cologne in Germany. There style of melodeath is very much based around the Swedish influences, heavy death metal rhythms with explosive blastbeating from Adriano Ricci, grinding bass from Tobias Bruchmann and guttural vocals that are delivered with aggression by Christian Müller.

However as with all melodeath bands the death metal power is offset by the melodic guitar playing of Frank Basten and his brother Jens (who also shreds in power metal band Gloryful), their dual guitar harmonies and thrashy riffs are the keys to the Dawnlight Garden's appeal as a record. It's no surprise that the band have released records as part of both Nuclear Blast (back when they had every melodeath band under the sun) and with Massacre Records, but you can't help but feel that their split in 2001 an subsequent reformation in 2011 has meant they can now focus on what they want to play meaning that they can add some Scar Symmetry-like progressive flourishes to Kingdom which develops from slower openings into a full blown chaos for 6 minutes but is followed by the grooving The Spectre Dead showing the duality of their melodeath sound. Dawnlight Garden is drawn from that Gothenburg sound but with a few of their own flourishes meaning that Night In Gales do enough not to be too repetitive. 7/10

Drops Of Heart: Stargazers (Self Released) [Liam True]

Over the past few years there have been more bands coming out of Russia, with Slaughter To Prevail being the biggest. Drop Of Heart are going to change the scene with the introduction of their second full length album. While it’s not the cleanest sound in terms of vocal production, it still hits the spot. From front to back, Stargazers is a great album filled with dirty riffs, monstrous drumming and growls to make you gurn with filth. The vocal work of Denis Fakhrislamov is the stand out on the record, due to him switching his voice from the screaming to the cleans with no effort.

Igor Sapkovsky & Vadim Nizamov both create a crushing technical tone from their deathly guitars to add to the ambiance of the album. Drummer Evheniy Ilyasov manoeuvres around his kit punching holes in the fabric of space with his beautiful blast beats. The album itself is a gorgeous piece of Metalcore and while more work needs to be done to really perfect the bands sound, they’ve got a basis of where they are. They just need to find their golden area and stay on it. 7/10

Solemnity: Through Endless Darkness (Amit Luther Music) [Liam True]

Death Metal has sort of dwindled through the years, but lately it’s making a come back with more bands creating a unique sound or updating an older sound. Solemnity are creating their own sound while using a technique used by older Death Metal bands. Being only a three piece they make a sound remnant of old school Decapitated, just not as polished, which is a good thing as it makes them sound more aggressive and in your face.

Beyond the style of music they play they also have symphonic elements which are prominent throughout the entire album. I’m not a huge fan of it, but the way they’re placed across the EP makes the 27 minutes run like a dream. The band are tight with Dan Benton doing double duty on the screeching guitars and demonic vocals. Amit Luther takes the reins on the keyboards drums. And Dan Dean on the booming bass. 

Even with two instrumental songs on the EP (And I really hate instrumentals) it all goes together so well. Even to the point where you don’t realise they’re even instrumental tracks. It’s a beautiful concoction of Death Metal and symphonic elements that entwine in each other. 7/10

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