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Heavy Metal Lives! - 90%

diogoferreira, June 1st, 2015

Slowly, but with full intention and cool albums, the North-American metallers Valkyrie are rising within the metal scene in its traditional side. Now, they have released the third and very mature album “Shadows”, via Relapse Records.

Valkyrie are one those bands in which all the instruments have their guaranteed spotlight and every single one of them breathe influences from several musical styles, but in the end everything is converged into the same goal: heavy metal. The drumming work presents a stoner rock/metal characteristic pace as the sound is very dense and even if the drums’ job is to mark time, we can find some cool drumming rolls and catchy compositions that wander between the hanged toms and the cymbals. Guitar riffs are pure heavy metal! They also present a little bit of stoner without the typical ultra-fat distortion and their zenith is reached through the several moments produced by the awesome twin-guitars which resurrect the traditional heavy metal, and without copying Iron Maiden it’s inevitable that we recall those metal monsters while listening to this album. Since the twin-guitars’ passages might cause some blank spaces, the bass guitar is there to fill those spaces with its distortion and support. Finally, the vocals send us to the primordial times of doom metal through melodic intonations that sometimes are high-pitched ones.

Among excellent songs, “Mountain Stomp” is the catchiest and perhaps most energetic track in the whole album in which the twin-guitars are the icing on the cake. “Temple” gives a melodic beginning delivered by the bass recalling the contemporary post-rock sound and it’s completed by a guitar section that’s highly slow and distorted, thus raising the band’s stoner/doom side.

The mid-tempo pace composed by lingering riffs end to explode in somehow melancholic solos. Melancholy and sentimentalism – always full of electricity – carry on in other occasions, like in “Shadow Of Reality”. Even the heaviest moments are alternated by calm passages composed by clean guitars completing themselves in a very specific work offered by each guitar. In a duality of feelings, the track “Echoes (of the Way We Lived)” is able to create soundscapes that both are melodic and wide as oppressive and almost sad. The band mainly offers a pure and straight sound, but even so we can find brief echo effects in the last song “Carry On”.

Overall, this new “Shadows” is, like I’ve said, a very mature album. It’s very well-composed, these guys know perfectly well what they’re doing and to where they want to go. Nowadays, I guess it’s not easy to find a refreshing straight heavy metal record and the last time I’ve felt great with such musicality was with Christian Mistress’s “Possession” (also released by Relapse Records) back in 2012. I dare to say that “Shadows” is one of the best albums of 2015.

Originally written at www.againstmagazine.com