Vales

Wilt And Rise

Written by: AP on 08/04/2014 20:47:19

Vales (formerly known as Veils before they were forced to refashion their moniker for legal reasons) first blipped on my radar in 2012 with their powerful and invigorating "Clarity" EP, which, though falling just short of the crest of the wave movement, presented the Cornwall, UK based quartet as a band entirely capable of challenging the genre's heavyweights in Defeater, La Dispute and Touché Amoré. They've been hard at work ever since, writing and recording their début album "Wilt and Rise", and the time has come to determine whether or not they've been able to capitalise on their potential to the degree I foresaw.

One of the trademarks of "Clarity" was that its soundscape was utterly, relentlessly, hopelessly grey, so in order to immerse myself in the atmosphere of "Wilt and Rise", which I anticipated would be similar in tone, I decided my first session listening to it would take place during a jog through the freezing mist of an early March evening. Vales do not write music to inspire joy or happiness; they write stuff that channels frustration anxiety, and confusion in a way that is both depressing and purifying. Presiding over all are the tortured screams of vocalist Chlo Edwards, whose harrowing nature is perhaps a bit surprising given the dichotomy implied by the album's title: that dedication to one ideal necessarily requires the abandoning of another, and by looking both forward with hope, and backward with regret, we all wilt and rise.

Instrumentally though, it makes sense, as there is both beauty and gloom in the glistening melodic work of guitarist Ben Sullivan, built mainly on minor chords; and both suffocation and empowerment in the rhythmic foundation laid down by bassist Nathan Retallack and drummer Ollie Lello. "Open Arms", for example, powers in with the desperate urgency of a life caught in too rapid a change, growing gradually more despondent as its pace slows to a trudge, but that feeling of capitulation is then redeemed by the momentum and brightening outlook of the Touché Amorésque "Survival", which Edwards pins to the defiant punchline "Pull yourself back together!", the fury in her voice serving as a catalyst for the peace which arrives with the calmly resonating instrumental centerpiece "Katrina".

Indeed, the juxtapositions are rife on "Wilt and Rise", and by relating each song to the conflict mentioned earlier on, the album attains structure and purpose. What it lacks in instantly memorable moments it thus compensates for with a clear idea, and while the pressing absence of standout singles takes its toll, you could home in on virtually any of the 10 songs and recognise the quality of Vales' tradecraft. The cinematic (and paradoxically larger than life) melancholy of the music is the perfect companion to a bad day, spent seething on the couch as raindrops batter the window. But it is also the perfect companion to raising your fist at the world and meeting your calamities with rebellious determination - just as wave hardcore should be.

Download: Open Arms, Survival, White Horse, Wildfire
For the fans of: Amber, Defeater, Downfall of Gaia, Touché Amoré
Listen: Facebook

Release date 18.02.2014
6131 Records

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