Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Valpurgis Night - Psalms of Solemn Virtue | 75%

A decent mix of epic doom, heavy and thrash

This band was a total surprise for me and they're a good example of an underrated act who deserves more attention. I believe their original sound is quite fresh and original and it's done tastefully. The British trio from London has a lot of chops and even though it's their first and only album to date, it's a very good one. What really pleased me is the mix of genres. Valpurgis Night goes through epic doom, heavy metal influenced by their NWOBHM ancestors and everything is rightfully coordinated. It's like putting Pagan Altar, Candlemass and Celtic Frost together with a good dose of Witchfinder General, Sabbat and an healthy dose of the rare good groove metal. It's heavy as fuck, it's cryptic and dark and it sent some shivers down my spine when the epic side of the band showed his true nature.

What really impressed me is Preacher Edwards' vocals, he's not unlike an authentic cleric spouting the holy words. He has an ominous but charming voice evoking many emotions, both mysterious and epic. He reminds me of Johan Lanqvist (the singer on Candlemass' debut) but perhaps with a narrower range. He still has a lot of charisma and emotion in his voice. He's evolving in a clean and high range and he's demonstrating the full range of his abilities throughout the whole record. He can conjure some kind of grungey attitude on the great ballad ''Woken By The Silence''. He's also handling the guitars and he's doing a good job, the tone is interesting and just like the music, it's varied enough to keep the listener interested. The songwriting is catchy and got many hooks and there's some embellishment reminding me of gothic metal à la My Dying Bride. The songs are moody and mostly slow and they're quite groovy. There's no useless solos to create transitions, it's based mostly on the vocal approach and that's definitely the strength of the band. While I appreciate the thrashy side of the band, I really prefer their laid back epic doom side and that's the identity I'd like to see developed more. A good example is the epic sections of the eight minutes final track ''Row to the Rhythm 'The drums are pretty dynamic and there's surprisingly a lot of blastbeats to be found here. They're a very apt companion to the good bass licks.

There's a good working man etiquette to this release, the production is honest although nothing special unlike the sound of the band. Sometimes, it's too much though, the intent of mixing many genres and influences is honorable but the line is hard to establish. I think the groove parts are too numerous and are detrimental to the overall quality of the album. Still, if you feel adventurous and you want to hear a different approach to epic doom. It's worth it for the vocals alone.

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