Paradise Lost

Vallenfyre – Fear Those Who Fear Him

vallenfyreforthosecdOldschool Death metal from Gregor Mackintosh (founding member of Paradise Lost), Hamish Hamilton Glencross (ex-My Dying Bride 2000-2014, Ex-Solstice) and Waltteri Väyrynen (Paradise Lost, Abhorrence & bunch of others).

Not surprisingly the slower doomier parts are the most memorable bits. And boy are they macabre enough! Vallenfyre has two sides really, the slow tracks and oldschool death metal, both are performed with a very crusty guitar sound.

The video track An Apathetic Grave hits the right notes instantly, with the catchy guitar leads on the chorus, joined by powerful raspy vocals far removed from the seeming apathy of the track title. The Merciless Tide took more time to fruition as the best track of the album with its slow, ominous guitar leads that weave throughout the whole track. How much more doom than this can you be:
In a second
The life I knew
Existed no more
The cold hands
I could no longer warm

Third doom track (11th on the record), Cursed From The Womb feels like the lyrical centerpiece. It took even more time to grow than The Merciless Tide with an undertone a notch more ominous too. The tempo is the slowest with plenty of air between the hits. Lovely use of repetition and heavy beat invites for serious…slow…headbanging.

The only killer death metal track of the album is Soldier of Christ. Juicy guitar leads keep popping up and finally lead to the outro which is probably the most striking individual moment of the album. Powerful articulation and slow riff create a macabre image:
Abused by the protectors
Baptised in the filth of mankind
Behind the glorious curtain
Maggots feast
On the blood divine

I admit it, I am too much of a sucker for Vallenfyre’s slow and methodical sound. Their 2014 album Splinters is very similar in really fine slow tracks (Bereft, Scabs, Splinters). On Splinters the band really found the lovely crunchy, crusty guitar sound that they utilise so well on Fear Those Who Fear Him. The sound of the album is quite perfect for this kind of music altogether. Really powerful, far from crystal clear, yet not muddy at all. Piercing, rumbling and ferocious.

Oldschool death metal usually bores me, but when you sprinkle killer doom tracks in the midst it is very tolerable indeed. Unfortunately I cannot say many of the tracks besides the mentioned rouse notable interest. Classical gig-starter Messiah and really fast and aggressive circle-pit / track Nihilist perhaps most so (simple enough for a good sing-along too “Nihilist, Nihilist, Nihilist – Nihilist, Nihilist, Nihilist”!).

It is such joy to behold how well the drummer W. Väyrynen adapts between slow and fast tracks. It is quite natural when you think of his previous history though. Vallenfyre has a fair bit of old Paradise Lost in the slow tracks and the faster ones do remind of Abhorrence (oldschool death) and Rytmihäiriö (thrash / death / hardcore punk).

Fear Those Who Fear Him is going to be found in many “best albums of 2017” lists. For people with more liking to oldschool death metal than me, you can easily add half a grade more.

8+/10

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Monumental Funeral Doom Melancholy playlist

This compilation is based on the best bits of melancholic funeral doom bands with some more funeral bits of melodic death doom and traditional doomster(s) in the midst. The playlist continues in the vein of a previous Post-rock Melancholia playlist.

The concept of funeral doom has at least two different schools. The “original” sound with bands like Thergothon and Esoteric is very nihilistic and evil mass of sound. Skepticism has something in common with those bands but the themes often revolve around nature. The other newer school fronted by Shape of Despair is not at all about evil but of a weeping melancholy. Both schools are obviously shared by the supremely slow tempos.

This compilation has a lot of content from the melancholic funeral school which I am personally more fond of. Skepticism and Thergothon have never appealed to me even though I enjoy some bits by Evoken, who are a direct successor of the old school funeral.

1. Half Light by one man Swedish outfit Doom:VS is quite a hard-hitter but with a superbly memorable chorus and lyrics that are almost as melancholic melodic funeral doom as possible.

2. Frailty is from the doom legend Paradise Lost‘s more recent albums, Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us. A really memorable entirety. The track is perhaps a bit curious for a funeral doom collection but the weeping guitar lines in the end half are strongly reminiscent of many a track here.
I only realized the track’s true potential as I keep getting reminded of it in my work, the material I handle frequently has definitions of The Frailty Syndrome (Frailty is a common geriatric syndrome that embodies an elevated risk of catastrophic declines in health and function among older adults. Frailty is a condition associated with ageing, and it has been recognized for centuries.).

From the third track Lost & Catatonic the compilation slips into even deeper waters. It meanders effortlessly between very heavy, symphonic almost black metal bits and an extremely catchy and soft chorus. Lost & Catatonic was originally one of the tracks that triggered the biggest emotional response from Swallow The Sun‘s newest album Songs of the North 1. Later it was reported that in live setting a session guitarist would sometimes play the track instead of Juha Raivio. Understandable obviously given by the recent death of his spouse, the magnificently voiced vocalist Aleah Stanbridge.

4. Fragments by French band Remembrance is from their album Silencing the Moments (2008). Really some cliche melancholic funeral doom. It has all the basic elements from deep male growling to sparse hits, catatonic drummer, at times heavy at times extremely gentle guitars, background keyboards and angelic female vocals yet at their best they are tweaked so well it functions perfectly. Fragments is the song that has stayed with me most. I can’t think of any faults in it, its atmosphere is a real appealing slumbering mass. The hard & sparse hitting lamenting section at 5 minute mark is one of my favourites in any modern funeral doom band’s catalogue.

5. Shape of Despair is a band many of the more modern melancholic melodic funeral doom bands model after. Their second album Angels of Distress (2001) is the biggest landmark yet strangely I seem to have picked tracks from their two newer ones in my playlists. The Distant Dream of Life from Monotony Fields (2015) is nearly an absurdly short track for a funeral doom piece, clocking only 5.53 but its all tightly packed emotion. In the newest album Shape of Despair changed vocalist, and while I absolutely love Pasi Koskinen’s deep growling, the new vocalist Henri Koivula (Throes of Dawn) does a tremendous job as well.

6. Weighed Down With Sorrow by Insomnium is the best track they’ve ever made full stop. Never before or after have they gone this deep in doomish melancholy, the memorably sullen lyrics could be straight from the Finnish national epic Kalevala.

7. Her Withering Petals by The Fall of Every Season is 15 minutes long which may be a bit too much but its atmosphere stays intact and boy when the end comes, is it emotional or what. Machinae Supremacy sings about video game and action movie cliches in Player One “and in the end i’ll get the girl”. Translated into funeral doom, the same cliche is straight from the handbook of The Fall of Every Season:
This imagined warm touch was his relief.
Kneeling at her feet, ready for his sleep.
Had no longer wish to arise.
Put her arm around him, no more cries.
Slept there until the fierce cold awoke
to erase all tracks of life.