Vallenfyre – Splinters
Release Date – May 13th, 2014
When bands are formed as “supergroups”, I tend to become a little wary when it comes to listening to music associated with such tags. Most supergroups I’ve come across just don’t end up performing to my expectations as a lot of them go about the cookie cutter route, creating stale and repetitive content. Recently, however, I ended up stumbling across a band that ends up exceeding my expectations and has quite possibly set the bar for the future of said groups. This release being the new record from Vallenfyre, Splinters.
Vallenfyre is the manifestation of Paradise Lost’s lead guitarist and chief songwriter, Gregor Mackintosh. Sadly, this wasn’t made as a side project at first, as it was more of an outlet for his grief and mourning due to his father’s death in late 2009. As the ideas carried on over time and compositions began to take form, Gregor decided to recruit like-minded friends/musicians as he felt that he could turn this energy into something efficient and positive. Vallenfyre formed, bringing in the basic elements of death, crust, and doom. The rest of the members came from very well-known bands that shook the metal community in some way or another (Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Doom, At The Gates, The Haunted). In 2011, the hard work came to fruition, with the album A Fragile King, mostly dedicated to Gregor’s father in reference to his battle with cancer. Ultimately, A Fragile King was noticed by many in the metal community and is referenced as a moving piece of death/doom art.
Splinters is the band’s newest opus, bringing in over 40 minutes of death/doom that is reminiscent of A Fragile King but is taken a step further with a furious energy and experimentation.
“Scabs” starts things off with a slow, doomy approach that soon becomes miserable (in a good way) as noisy, screechy guitar additions are added on top. Death metal influences take over with a straightforward assault that immediately switches up the pace and mood. The album does this quite often, causing some disorientation for those that aren’t all about twists and turns. I wouldn’t say this is progressive, but it does show some interesting songwriting and structure.
“Bereft” is a favorite track right off the get go. Dark and gloomy riffs accentuated with knuckle dragging percussions lead you along, as if you’re being dragged through layers of mud, death, etc. Add in the eerie, haunting, and sometimes frightening melody that makes itself present at the darkest times. Goosebumps.
Some tracks cover around the two to three-minute mark, indicating more influences from the faster paced sub-genres. “Savages Arise” is a perfect example with a straight to the throat mentality showcasing the aggressive death metal side of Vallenfyre. This can also be said for “Cattle” and “Thirst for Extinction” as well, pummeling assaults fit for fans that like their music hitting hard and fast.
Noise elements are also present throughout this record as well, usually within the introductions of the tracks and even strewn throughout random sections of the music, creating a harsh effect that may take some getting used to. I dig it, as I feel it brings another dark element that think it’s thoroughly used as much as it should be in a lot of present music.
Splinters proves to be a grower of an album. With every listen, I can’t help but become more enthralled in its composition. Although the inspiration isn’t centralized around a personal grief, much like their previous work, you can still feel that emotion being expressed in every single second of the album. Vallenfyre may end up being a dark horse up to the end of the year.
Rating – 9.1/10