The death of a loved one can be a devastating experience and there is no ‘right’ way of dealing with it. While some find solace in isolation, others do so in expression.
Greg Mackintosh, guitarist and founding member of UK metallers Paradise Lost decided to deal with the death of his father three years ago by forming the Doom Death combo Vallenfyre and by releasing, under their moniker, a sad, angry and heavy-sounding album entitled “A Fragile King”.
Three years after that album first saw the light of day, Vallenfyre are back with their second offering “Splinters” – another collection of emotionally-charged compositions that are bound to attract the attention of fans of all styles of Metal.
For somebody like me, whose understanding of what constitutes good quality extreme Metal was first shaped in the late 80s/early 90s, no album could be more enjoyable than “Splinters”.
I mean, who in their right mind does not like a Doom Death album whose monstrous heavily distorted riffs are influenced by the works of legends of extreme Metal such as Celtic Frost and Napalm Death and whose mournful melodies are similar to Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride at the early stages of their careers?
These eleven compositions are quick to impress, but reveal their full charms slowly.
Are you still angry with Paradise Lost for giving up on the melodic Death Metal of their iconic “Gothic” album? Opening track “Scabs” mixes such elements with the aggression and urgency of Entombed and, in the process, offers us all a true gem of a song.
Equally heavy in but much, much slower in pace, “Bereft” is a seven minute tribute to Greg Mackintosh and Hamish Glencross’ main bands (see Paradise Lost & My Dying Bride), while “Instinct Slaughter” looks towards Napalm Death for inspiration.
Groove and melody characterise the Celtic Frost-influenced monster “Odious Bliss” and while the tempo is once again raised on “Savages Arise”, the follow-up “Aghast” finds the band once again delivering a seminar in slow-paced heavy-sounding Doom Death.
The epic intro and opening riff of the doom-laden “The Wolves Of Sin” is one of the highlights of this album and creates an interesting contrast with the fast-paced Punk riffs of “Cattle”.
The latter section of the album includes another Celtic Frost influenced anthem entitled “Dragged To Gehenna” but concludes with a duet of rhythmically varied compositions, namely, “Thirst Of Extinction” and “Splinters”.
With Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride still in pretty rude health, there was always a fear on my part that Vallenfyre would be nothing more than a one-off side project so I was pleased when I found “Splinters” waiting for my review.
Many careful spins later I am pleased to report that the quality, honesty and sheer passion which informed the band’s debut are also alive here and that Vallenfyre’s second studio album is one that deserves your attention.
Only death is real!