Valkyrie

Shadows

Written by: AP on 15/01/2016 20:04:12

Though the moniker Valkyrie may not register at once with most readers of this webzine, a quick glance at the personnel involved in the project should be sufficiently illuminating. The band is driven by brothers Jake and Peter Adams, the latter of whom has forged a degree of fame and fortune as the lead guitarist of Baroness, yet despite the fact that they and their colleagues — presently made up of bassist Alan Fary and drummer Warren Hawkins — have been at it for more than a decade, releasing two studio albums and three split 7”s in that time, the quartet’s existence evaded me all the way until their signature with Relapse and the subsequent announcement of their third full-length outing “Shadows” earlier this year. Upon the discovery however, knowing well the invention and prowess of Peter Adams through his work with Baroness, looking forward to giving it a spin has been a process of mounting excitement; one that will at last be resolved over the course of this article.

Since the Adams brothers are both wielders of the guitar, it should not be a surprise that the axe driven aspects are given presidency over Valkyrie’s music. It sounds as though for Peter, this band that he would be loathe to dub a side-project, is an outlet for creative excess; an opportunity for him to really worship the riff and unleash all of the kaleidoscopic jams and spaced out solos that did not quite fit the Baroness palette. Mind you, “Shadows” is far from some bucket for collecting discarded Baroness material. In fact, the only real connection between Baroness and Valkyrie is the one shared musician; the style of Valkyrie bears no trace of the sludgy and proggy elements by which Baroness’ music is distinguishable, aligning itself rather with 70’s rock revival acts such as Kadavar. Certainly the Adams brothers' penchant for lacing Valkyrie's music with a myriad of eyeshutting jams and guitar solos mimics the approach often taken by the German trio, just as the singing divided between the two siblings bears a close resemblance to the characteristic style of Christoph 'Lupus' Lindemann.

The good news is that Valkyrie have enough of their own zest to avoid infringing too much on Kadavar's niche. Opening track "Mountain Stomp" is a classic lesson in the school of 'Sabbath, built principally on a heavy, looping riff for a hypnotising effect, but constantly branching out into nifty licks and eventually an elongated gallop riddled with harmonised melancholy. The formula is simple, but the overload of riffs, and the rich instrumentation in general ensures it sticks from the first listen. As does "Temple", a patiently swelling spectacle with a killer riff deployed around the 1:20 mark, brought to fruition by shiver inducing, deeply expressive solos, one of which occupies the entire final third of the song. Onwards, and "Echoes (of the Ways We Lived)" produces even more fodder for the memory to feed on, mounting an energetic rhythm section by bassist Alan Fary and drummer Warren Hawkins and then soaring into an epic guitar solo which brilliantly recalls Kirk Hammet's ditto in Metallica's classic "Fade to Black".

All this talk of riffs and solos is there to emphasise that "Shadows" is angled toward listeners with a predisposition to music heavy on the instrumental aspects. The album is catchy, but not in the traditional sense; the lyricism is sung well enough, but as much of the running length is absorbed by winding jams and soulful solo work, it is these passages that leave the most lasting impression. Even when one of the Adams brothers is singing, the groundwork beneath is still bursting with subtle nuances that beckon the ear. Valkyrie's latest opus thus, is not in the same league as, say, Kadavar's new record "Berlin"; its celebration of the riff lacks that killer edge of simultaneously being engaging and instantly memorable. Rather, "Shadows" is one of those albums best heard in solitude, immersed in one's own thoughts.

7

Download: Mountain Stomp, Temple, Echoes (of the Ways We Lived)
For the fans of: Kadavar, Pentagram, Spirit Caravan
Listen: Facebook

Release date 17.05.2015
Relapse Records

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