Valient Thorr

Our Own Masters

Written by: AP on 17/08/2013 12:25:12

Myth has it Valient Thorr were dispatched on a spacecraft from a town called Burlatia on Venus, and subsequently crash-landed in the college town wilderness of Greenville, North Carolina. Whilst efforts to repair the craft have faltered, the aliens have instead busied themselves with incessant touring, spreading warnings about the endless greed they've encountered on Earth and the impending catastrophe we all face because of it. Valient, the group's leader, has taken to preaching revolution and suspicion backed by instrumentation lovingly borrowed from Thin Lizzy, Saviours and Iggy Pop, in a heroic attempt to rescue himself and everyone around him from armageddon.

Of course, the problem with such stories is that they threaten to obscure the actual work of the band behind them; and quite right, Valient Thorr's decade-stretching discography of six albums (seven, with this latest creation "Our Own Masters") continues to seem rather secondary to their fantastical tale and, most importantly, exhilirating live performances. Valient Thorr write the sort of rowdy, shout-out-loud punk-metal'n'roll that works extremely well in a live hi-energy environment, but when listened to on record, the songs themselves tend to lack the necessary intrigue to keep me interested for very long. There are exceptions of course, such as the uplifting The Bronx/Torche-fusing "No Strings Attached", with its profuse nods toward "Along for the Ride" off the former's "IV" LP earlier this year, as well as the vast majority of the latter's joyous "Harmonicraft" LP last year. It's catchy, memorable and stuffed to the brim with excellent retrospective guitar work, courtesy of Eidan and Sadat Thorr (naturally all band members use their Venusian aliases). "Torn Apart", too, creates an instant memory imprint, though it does so with a darker and more mysterious tone that sounds like a Kylesa/Mastodon mash-up without the gruff vocals.

Sadly, the vast majority of the Venusians' output on "Our Own Masters" is less successful in its ability to move me. Songs like "Cerberus" and "Good News Bad News" sound exactly like The Bronx's output on "II" and "III": solid, banging stuff that bear the hallmark of an experienced band, but without the necessary oomph and wow effect to encourage multiple spins. Indeed, Valient Thorr tend to sound most anonymous when they're banging out their fastest takes, for when they slow the tempo and up the groove factor on "Insatiable" to embrace their thoroughbred rock'n'roll characteristics, one instantly feels more drawn toward their anecdotal allure. The question remains, then, why they don't focus on their strengths all of the time? Then again, the conundrum is probably best explained by needing a selection of high speed tracks in order to provide the best possible live experience. And in rare cases, such as on the fastest track on "Our Own Masters", the Motörhead idolatry of the appropriately titled "Crowdpleaser", the balls-to-the-wall approach does work on record, too; with the aforementioned track emergeing as one of the most effervescent moments on the album. The bouncy "Call Off the Dogs" is excellent, too, though it is difficult to determine whether or not the crystal clear instrumental tribute to QOTSA's "No One Knows" in its main riff is intentional or not.

Is "Our Own Masters" worth checking out then? I'd certainly say so, if only for the strength of its standout tracks. It's the sort of album that has the capacity to enforce a good atmosphere, whether it be live in concert or blasting out of the stereo during a party. It's not without its inherent weaknesses, but I'd heartily recommend giving it a chance nonetheless in order to be able to say, "I listen to a band from Venus".


Download: No Strings Attached, Torn Apart, Insatiable, Crowdpleaser, Call Off the Dogs
For the fans of: The Bronx, Priestess, Saviours, Thin Lizzy
Listen: Facebook

Release date 14.06.2013
Volcom Entertainment

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