Monday, May 12, 2014

Vallenfyre - Splinters (2014)

Out of the many, many... many OSDM worshipping bands that have fortunately or unfortunately cropped up within the last five or so years, the ones that usually stand out for me in terms of mastery and conviction are the ones that have some sort of tie to the days of old. Vallenfyre are amongst this lot and deliver the goods by the dump-truck load.

First, and most obvious, the production is fucking stellar. The crunch of the guitar is ridiculously delicious! This is the sort of thing that I have been lusting after since treading the "Left Hand Path" so long ago. Skogsberg, eat your heart out!

The vocal onslaught of Gregor Mackintosh is really quite an astonishing thing! I mean, who would have thought that after years and years of Nick Holmes fronting Paradise Lost there was a silent beast within the ranks whose deafening roar had yet to be heard? What solidifies Mackintosh's standing as an upper tier vocalist is his flawless command of the English vocabulary and use of what is, in my mind, the most important thing a death metal vocalist should always strive to achieve... diction! Not only does one's enunciation make it possible to reach a larger audience, but it lends to the proceedings a sense of urgency and dread that you will not find in a band whose singer sounds as if he's growling through a mouthful of tuna.

The riffs are extraordinarily diverse, ranging anywhere from punk to early transitional death metal to colossal slabs of doom. Everything here is tempered to perfection. There are many slides that lead from one mindset to the next and Vallenfyre are clearly in control of the proceedings.

On one hand I can somewhat understand why someone would be quick to write this album off as we are clearly in the red-zone of a massive assault of bands marching under the banner of the early '90's, however, it is also mandatory to understand that the forces that comprise Vallenfyre are no mere novices and when you actually sit down and allow the music to formulate properly, the expertise of these battle-hardened warriors will most certainly become apparent unless you are a dolt of the most hopeless kind. I can assure you that in a show of brute force and oppressive gloom, all competitors shall be smashed and left in splinters.

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