Shadows (2015 Relapse Records)
5-13-2015 by Andrew Unterberger
Ride High With Valkyrie’s New LP ‘Shadows’
Baroness guitarist Pete Adams’ other group harkens back to ’70s proto-metal
Harkening back to both the sludgy beginnings of Black Sabbath and the double-tracked guitar days of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden, Virginia classic metal enthusiasts Valkyrie have made one of the year’s more enjoyable hard-rock records with third album Shadows. Full of majestic shredding and thunderous drums — and even some “Crazy Train”-esque vibraslap on opener “Mountain Stomp” — the set is driven by the dueling axes of brothers Jake and Pete Adams, the latter also a member of the similarly righteous progressive metal act Baroness. It’s an album worthy of its obvious touchstones, and one that at seven tracks wisely keeps to single-LP brevity.
Stream the album below, officially out May 19 on Relapse Records.
Shadows (2015 Relapse Records)
5-13-2015 by Mike Bax
Released next week, Shadows, the third full length album from Valkyrie finally hits the streets. The album follows 2010’s Man Of Two Visions (Noble Origin) and their 2006 self-titled debut release, Valkyrie (Twin Earth Records). While the album is indeed a project with which Pete Adams (Baroness, Samhain) contributes both vocals and guitars, Valkyrie was originally established by Pete’s brother Jake, a few years before Pete joined in. Where Baroness pursue a more eclectic musical voyage through the sub-genres of heavy rock and stoner rock, Valkyrie stay a little truer to their path, delving into six to seven minute jams that stay rooted in classic heavy rock.
The easy sell here would be to say that fans of The Sword will be very satisfied with the music on Shadows – the entire album reminds me of the vibe that comes off The Sword’s albums. Valkyrie rely less on any accoutrements to their music, building their material with two lead guitars and vocalists, bass and drums. Think Deep Purple circa 1972-1975. Think the first two Thin Lizzy albums. Think of Iron Maiden styled riffs that form the heavy guitar-picking backbone of the more traditional cuts off of Killers. Shadows is the sort of album that materializes from a deep rooted love of these bands and their songcraft, by musicians capable of putting forth their own unique takes on the mindset and musicianship of music of that golden era of heavy rock.
Shadows is an album that continuously builds. Each individual song is a marriage of excellent riffs that culminate toward the final track, ‘Carry On’. As the vocal chorus of ‘Carry On’ comes to its apex, and the guitar notes contained within the song can soar no higher, the impulse you have to flip the album over and drop the needle back onto ‘Mountain Stomp’ (the A-Side leading track) and play the entire album again simply can’t be denied.
Shadows is the album you’ll want for your summer. Its 40 minutes of epic rock designed to blast at an unbridled volume from your car stereo. The riffs are epic. It’s a lumbering BEAST of an album. The date on the back of the album says 2015, but don’t let that fool you… Shadows feels like 1974.
Shadows (2015 Relapse Records)
5-13-2015 by Paul Maddison – 8.5/10 STARS
Heavy/stoner/doom could mean a lot of things in terms of musical references, but America’s (Virginia) Valkyrie are just that… Soaked in retro and vibe, based on the works of their previous outings, ‘Shadows’ can only be an improvement right? Damn right. This album seems to be less groove and more down turned in terms of pace, heavy references to the late 90’s early noughties stoner scene and fans thereof wouldn’t go wrong with this effort that feels more consistent than some earlier efforts.
‘Shadow if Reality’ starts with a lazy but haunting vocal tone that’s quite similar to my memories of listening to Count Raven some years ago, mixed with Sheavy. It’s pretty coincidental that I am listening and writing to this release in the rare day of sunshine that we get here, it’s definitely got that summer vibe. That big power trio sound, although a four piece. Influence is surprisingly sparse in terms of other bands that this line-up features in, such as Baroness, but then when you can get references to Orchid and Argus without blinking an eye, then you are more than comfortable with present company.
A song like ‘Temple’ may start out quite dreamy and inclusive for the listener, but there’s some brash guitar work appearing later in the track, it’s definitely rocking man! ‘Wintry Plains’ is doomy, trippy and one of those tracks that just makes you sit back, close your eyes and rock out in your own little world. It has life and atmosphere. That combination of the vocal style and the guitar sound, with a few guitar trills and string bending moments of indulgence really make for a good all round album, although I don’t really see the relevance of the artwork, maybe that’s something missed on me.
If you are looking to compare to earlier albums, especially ‘Man of Two Visions’ then you will find a band moving forward. There is less riffing, but more groove and overall ‘Shadows’ sounds like a band tripping via some exhaustive and compelling vibes whilst experimenting with the human psyche and consciousness. Thus resulting in a more epic song structure, presented with a vision of almost hedonism, I find this album really cool, much more than other releases, a change is better than none, this really works on so many levels summarized by ‘Echoes (of the way we lived)’.
Shadows (2015 Relapse Records)
5-13-2015 by Gruesome Greg – 7.5/10 STARS
Been a while since we’ve heard from these Virginia doomsters—split 7” with Earthling aside, they haven’t released a record since 2008. And yet, their profile has grown somewhat in their absence, what with guitarist Pete Adams joining Baroness. Suffice to say, the Baroness connection secured their record deal with Relapse, providing the resources—recorded by Sanford Parker, mixed by Brad Boatright—to lay the foundation for a pretty decent album.
This one gets off to a solid start, “Mountain Stomp” embodying its title with some bluesy, winding riffs and Led Zep vocal worship, before picking up the pace to a Maidenesque gallop complete with soaring double leads. “Golden Age” sounds sorta like The Sword or Baroness before they went soft, while the closing combo of “Echos (of the Way We Lived)” and “Carry On” brings Pentagram to mind. There are several rock-solid riffs and soaring solos scattered throughout these seven tracks.
There is also an ever-present sense of melodic dynamism here, which transcends doom into just plain good ol’ rock ‘n roll. I wouldn’t call Valkyrie retro-rock revivalists—this is simply heavy, melody-driven rock that doesn’t suck.
Shadows (2015 Relapse Records)
FELVIDÉKI ROCK MAGAZIN
5-12-2015 by Babócsa
Most, hogy a Black Sabbath – talán – belátható időn belül tényleg feloszlik (esetleg kiadja utolsó albumát és még egy világ körüli turnét fut, a csapat tagjainak egészségi állapotától függően), ideje megnézni, hogy kik lehetnek azok, akik a zenei örökséget annak szolgai másolása nélkül továbbvihetik. Rengeteg jelentkező akadt már, konkrétan teljes trend is felépült erre az okkult, blues alapú stoner lassúságú zenére, de valahogy mindig hiányzik a fifika, az a többlet, amely hosszú távon biztosíthatná egy csapat túlélését. Nos, abban biztos vagyok, hogy az amerikai Valkyrie sosem fog felülni a metalvilág trónjára (ezt a trónt már régen felaprították tűzifának, a zeneipar jelenlegi állapotából kifolyólag legfeljebb csak sámlik maradtak), de az meggyőződésem, hogy ebben a stílusban nagyon régen nem alkottak ilyen jól sikerült albumot.
Alapvető problémám van a zenei múltidézéssel. Ez jórészt nem áll másból, mint egy adott korszak tizenöt-húsz zenekarát felkutatni, teljes életművüket ronggyá hallgatni, majd (az anyagi erőforrások függvényében) autentikus stúdiótechnikával rögzíteni a leszedett dallamokat és témákat. Az énekes persze a szóban forgó zenei éra ikonikus frontemberének hangját, manírjait, sőt, néha még az intonációját vagy kiejtését is tökéletesen elsajátítja, gyakorlatilag kópiává válik. Tényleg nem tudom, hogy ennek mi értelme van: olyasmi ez, mint amikor valaki kedvenc sztárjává műtteti magát, így tudatva a külvilággal rajongásának fokát (esetleg pénzt is keres vele, ha sikerül fellépéseket is vállalnia, mint hivatalos Jacko-imitátor például).
Szerencsére a Valkyrie esetében erről szó sincs. A Virginia állambeli csapat magját egy gitáros testvérpár, Pete és Jake Adams alkotja. A Relapse Records gondozásában május 15-én megjelenő “Shadows” már a harmadik lemezük, igaz, az előző korong hét éve látott napvilágot, így nem igazán lehet őket túltermeléssel vádolni. A stílus egyértelműen a ’70-es évek elejének Black Sabbath által inspirált, vontatott, de súlyos muzsikája, nyakon öntve a korai Iron Maiden- és Thin Lizzy-féle ikergitáros harmóniahalmozással.
Az Adams testvérek meg sem próbálják utánozni egyik világhírű énekes stílusát sem és ez már kész felüdülés a tucatbandák tucatprodukciói után. 7 nótát tartalmaz a korong bő negyven percben, tehát a klasszikus (rossz magyar kifejezéssel élve) bakelit lehetőségeit követve, így nem lesz unalmas és bő lére eresztett a hallgatnivaló. Nincs töltelék nóta: itt bizony végig minőségi szerzemények sorjáznak egymás után.
Külön ki kell emelni a testvérpár gitármunkáját. Szó sincs itt semmilyen Malmsteen-féle pirotechnnikáról vagy napjaink tízezer hang/másodperc gyorsaságáról. A szólók rendkívül hangulatosak és spórolósak, az ikergitáros részek pedig végig a dalt építik vagy különálló blokkokat hoznak létre a nótákban. Tényleg bele lehet feledkezni a hat perc körüli hosszúságú dalokba, az ismerős, de mégis egyedi dallamokba.
Hasonló stílusú, bár teljesen más megközelítésű ez az album, mint a tavaly megjelent Crobot korong (melyről itt írtunk). Míg a Crobot esetében az egyértelmű inspiráció a Led Zeppelin volt, a Valkyrie alapvetően Black Sabbath hatású zenéje szigorúbb, szikárabb, hangszerelésében szellősebb és egyben puritánabb. A Thin Lizzy jelleg a gitárok és az énektémák harmonizálásában, összehangoltságában érhető tetten, de míg Phil Lynott gyakran írt bulizós, vidám tételeket is, itt ennek nyoma sincs. Az első két Iron Maiden album ikergitáros megközelítése is felbukkan, gyakran komplett harmóniamenetek is felismerhetők.
Bár nem igazán lehet kiemelni egy nótát sem az albumról, a Golden Age című tétel az egyik legsodróbb iramú (az adott stílus korlátai között), míg a Wintry Plains ólomnehéz menetelésével, majd gyönyörű középrészével pont az ellentéte. Aki tehát bírja a szó szerint klasszikus heavy metalt, szereti a ’70-es évek rockzenéjét, kedvenc hangszere a gitár és elege van a kópiacsapatokból meg a metalcore-ból, annak a Valkyrie tökéletes, hibátlan zenei élményt kínáló választás. Vinylrajongóknak pedig a gyönyörű borító okán is kötelező vétel!
Shadows (2015 Relapse Records)
5-12-2015 by Hanif Abdurraqib
It has been too long—nearly seven years—since the last Valkyrie album, Man Of Two Visions. The Adams brothers have been busy in the meantime, most notably guitarist Pete Adams joining Baroness, an act that led to a kind of unspoken hiatus for Valkyrie. Yet the differences between Baroness and Valkyrie couldn’t be more apparent in this album. The Adams brothers haven’t lost their taste for straight forward southern metal, with heavy blues riffs and jagged vocals. A refreshing throwback to bands like Deep Purple, and even Skynyrd at their most acrobatic, Shadows kicks in the door with “Mountain Song,” which serves as a proper reintroduction with its unapologetically southern-fried guitarriffs and dashes of prog, for the more technically inclined.
The greatest part about Shadows is that it doesn’t let you up off the mat. With only seven songs on the album, the margin for error is pretty slim, and Valkyrie doesn’t disappoint on that front. After the sluggish and somewhat tough to engage “Golden Age,” they follow up with five songs that are absolutely brilliant, not only in execution, but in showcasing the full depth of skill that the Adams brothers possess. It isn’t just a guitar album, mind you, but it is definitely difficult to ignore the absolute absurd level of talent that is showcased on nearly every track here. On “Wintry Plains,” we’re treated to a slow and curvy ride of 13th Floor Elevators-influenced psych-pop, and right when we’re at the edge, we get a jolt of guitar acrobatics that are so good, it almost feels like showing off. Though many of the songs use the same elements (consistently building ride, closing out with ferocious guitar), no two songs are all that similar, which is a feat rarely seen in metal today. It would be almost too easy to compare them to Thin Lizzy, especially when one considers the perfectly harmonized vocals that permeate the album. While this isn’t to say that Valkyrie is better or worse than Thin Lizzy, it truly feels like they’re tapping into something different. An understanding of melody, most highlighted on a song like “Echoes (Of The Way We Lived)”, that is genuinely groundbreaking, and pushing the art forward.
Valkyrie’s biggest strength is that they can offer something for all listeners of metal. So often, we see metal bands now stick to their one or two guns, and hammer you to death with them. It would have been easy for Valkyrie to make an album of guitar antics and heavy riffs, and not offer anything else. Where Shadows succeeds is in not being easy. It is truly rare to see a band plug all of its influences into an album spanning less than an hour, but Valkyrie succeeds in doing that, and more, ultimately ending up as a metal album that brings something to the table for everyone, and doesn’t sacrifice any of its heaviness in the process. It is a throwback, in that way. Something that is now rarely heard: A true triumph.
Shadows (2015 Relapse Records)
TWO GUYS METAL REVIEWS
5-11-2015 by Matt Bacon
Valkyrie are an endlessly interesting band to me, sure, they’ve got members of Baroness and sure, they’ve been around since 2002 and it makes sense that they’ve got their sound worked out -but there is so much more to them than that. With an emphasis on epic soundscapes couched between moments of vocal triumph Shadows sees the band at their best, guiding the listener on a journey across the forests and the fjords towards a world of gut crushing riffs, powerful guitarmonies and epic solos – a rock and roll journey for the masses.
See – what I think these guys have managed to do is to craft a sort of… easy listening sound… if that makes any sense at all. Or at least, metal that doesn’t necessarily have to be in the fore, you can chill out to these guys is what I’m saying. Valkyrie are a lot of fun to listen too and their songs are incredibly intricate, but it’s also the kind of thing that relies heavily on vibe (Which is pretty rad, especially when done as well as these dudes do it). You find yourself envisioning grand worlds unlike any you’ve seen before. Valkyrie have managed to invoke the power of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden and run it through a largely instrumental context, crafting music that can’t help but capture the imagination – truly rock and roll at it’s finest hour.
There is something mystical about the voyage Valkyrie take you on – hell, the point of Shadows seems to be the journey, not the destination anyway. Shadows is almost an exploration of the self, there is something intensely personal about the music found within and trying to delve into the strange universe it paints is exciting. Couched in familiar ideas and using powerful Pentagram-esque vocals to keep things interesting Valkyrie are not going away, but instead rising harder and stronger – prepare your body.
Shadows (2015 Relapse Records)
SEA OF TRANQUILITY
5-10-2015 by Pete Pardo – 4/5 STARS
It’s taken them 7 years, but Virginia’s own Valkyrie are finally back with a new platter of twin guitar fueled Southern hard rock & doom, titled Shadows. Of course, most probably know guitarist Pete Adams more from his other act Baroness, but here, along with guitarist Jake Adams, bassist Alan Fary, and drummer Warren Hawkins, the band instead conjure up images of Thin Lizzy, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Wishbone Ash, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and other more recent groups such as Vintage Caravan, Horisont, Graveyard, and Witchcraft.
Fromt start to finish, Shadows is filled with plenty of tasty harmony guitar leads, effective riffing, solid vocals, memorable hooks, and intense grooves. “Golden Age” is a real driving song, with a melody that sticks in your head and a wealth of sizzling guitar solos, while “Mountain Stomp” gallops along like a bastard child from the union of Thin Lizzy & Iron Maiden. The weaving guitar lines of both Adams’ on the majestic “Temple” recalls those first few classic Wishbone Ash albums from the early ’70s, and “Shadow of Reality” brings forth the Southern swampy doom, as massive riffs and whisky soaked vocals set the stage for some air guitar delight. A similar feel continues on “Wintry Plains”, where lumbering riffs meet crashing rhythms and layers of wah-wah, somewhat like a head on collision of vintage Black Sabbath and the early psychedelic leanings of Monster Magnet. Groove laden Southern fried doom and more of those sizzling harmony guitars pop up on “Echoes (Of The Way We Lived)”, and Shadows closes with the emotional yet lumbering “Carry On”, a real heavy piece with some chilling effects laden vocals and monstrous riffs.
Honestly, for my money, I’d listen to Valkyrie over Baroness any day, so hopefully these guys won’t take another seven year break from delivering high quality music like this. Vintage hard rock & doom fans will absolutely need to hear this one.
Shadows (2015 Relapse Records)
5-4-2015 by Vinterd
Whoever said that classic metal could never be duplicated? If that answer is no one then that’s the right fucking answer with this album because Valkyrie’s upcoming album, “Shadows”, is something that those who are looking for a sound that is reminiscent of the first true metal bands such as Black Sabbath. The vocals in this are what make that statement more apparent than anything, but the groove of the guitars are nothing to be fucked with with how well they pound along and create a seldom heard of sound nowadays with these songs stretching over 5 minutes. The riffs over the course of these lengthy tracks are amazing to say in the least with the vocals echoing in your ears and the infectious beat of the drums too good to resist. “Shadows” is something that I definitely was not expected in any way, shape, or form. This album has got the whole nine yards under its belt and when it comes out May 17th then everyone who knows classic metal will be taken aback at how well Valkyrie takes that and cranks it up to 9001 (it’ll be over 9000).
Man of Two Visions (2008 Noble Origins) (Re-issue 2010 MeteorCity Records)
10-5-2008 by Chris Barnes
The soul of Valkyrie is Pete and Jake Adams, two young ‘uns from Rockbridge County in Virginia who happen to both play an incredible rock guitar. Since the band’s genesis in 2002, the Adams brothers have clocked-in two full length albums, a couple of split 7” records and played a whole heck of a lot of shows and fests around the nation garnering quite a name for themselves in a relatively short period of time. Their first, self titled album, now sadly out of print (except for an exception vinyl version), was a hot seller here on Hellride in 2006 and for good reason.
Anytime you pair up sibling musicians, you’re in for fireworks. A blessed few siblings, especially those that are close in age, have that unique X-factor in terms of chemistry that can only come from sharing genetics and nurture. That is, if you can keep them from tearing each other’s throats out, as siblings are prone to do. Pete and Jake’s throats seem to be intact and there is no doubt they share a common chemistry as uniquely harmonized guitar players culling equal amounts from the great dual guitarists of our day in a variety of styles – Scott Gorham/Brian Robertson, Dave Murray/Adrian Smith and even the trademark Southern Rock sound of Duane Allman/Dickie Betts and Hughie Thomasson/Billy Jones. The ability of the brothers to slide in an out of different styles often within the same song and manage to make it not only cohesive but jaw-dropping is the mark of sibling synergy. I’ve heard that they appear to channel each other onstage, and I don’t doubt that is true.
But what about the album? Valkyrie is where 70’s hard rock, 70’s Southern rock, early NWOBHM and DC doom all collide into a sonic supernova. Two among the most fulfilling tracks are the great “Apocalypse Unsealed” and the title track “Man of Two Visions”. Both tracks manage to recall Thin Lizzy, The Outlaws and Iron Maiden all at one time and are of mammoth proportions. Imagine the tension/release of the best epic Maiden tracks and mind-blowing guitar work visited in a 70’s rock fashion. I’d say that the brother’s best work, however, is contained in “The Gorge”. This is a friggin’ delight to listen to. The brothers appear to channel ghosts past from the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, whose pickin’ and strummin’ put smiles on the faces of folks even in the worst of times. There’s nothing like classic acoustic folk to capture the soul of the South and that the Adams brothers are so freaky talented with any instrument that has strings is a bonus. They could put out a whole album of this stuff and I’d listen to the magic on a daily basis, no shitting you.
I’d like to offer contingences and caveats that might impede your listening fulfillment here, but I’m stumped. Unpretentious heavy rock with a nod to the classics but a magic all it’s own. I should add two things that I’m too pressed for time to go back and enter in the main body of this review because it’s my bedtime and I’m beat. The Adams brothers share vocal duties and both sound an awful like the currently MIA Rod Evans of Deep Purple/Captain Beyond fame, which I find comforting because the first two Captain Beyond albums are God-like to me. Also, for fans of original artwork on music, the cover painting is awesome. I hope to get with the Adams brothers for an interview to get the scoop both behind the painting and the title. Stuff like that is for the true heavy music fan boy geek, of which I’m a proud member.
Man of Two Visions (2008 Noble Origins) (Re-issue 2010 MeteorCity Records)
12-17-2008 by Pope JTE
There are days when Racer and I truly feel blessed. Over the course of the past year, we’ve had the honor and privilege to work with some greatly talented writers and personalities within this borderless community known as the blogosphere. All of us add our own quirks to this constantly morphing entity and, from time to time, we at The Ripple Effect get inspired by the words that are smithed across the glowing pages of our PC’s. Such is the case with Valkyrie’s latest disc Man of Two Visions. We were initially turned on to this Virginia based outfit by our good friend Ray from Ray’s Realm. It wasn’t so much the fact that Ray expressed great delight with this band, but how he expressed it! With his words, he practically ran onto the tarmac of his nearest airport, raised a hand to stop the next oncoming jetliner, told the pilot the urgency of which he needed to show us in the Ripple offices his latest find, and spent a “frosty” 60 degree summer night curled up on the Ripple couch for his troubles. I’m tellin’ ya’ . . . wondrous things do happen within the blogosphere . . . just ask Ray.
So, after we packed Ray onto a return flight to his rightful family, we plopped Man of Two Visions into the CD player and let it play. It played from daybreak until night fall and then daybreak once again, thrilling us from its breakneck metallic opening through its Sabbath-y doomy center to its seven minute epic closer. The sounds we heard weren’t new . . . so many times Racer and I looked at each other silently asking where we’ve heard this part before. But, the band approached said riffs and melodies, and worked them into the context of the music in such a way that it had us raising our clenched fists into the smoke filled air to praise what our ears were witnessing.
“Running Out” rocks us in a Motorhead meets Iron Maiden fashion. Dual harmonized guitar licks meander through this raucously distorted and up tempo rocker, and teleports us to a time when a denim vest was worn as a suit of armor. The intro features some virtuosic moments from guitarists Jake and Pete Adams, all kept together by an outstanding rhythm section in Will Barry-Rec on bass and Warren Hawkins on drums. The fuzzed out guitar solo is a thing of beauty as it takes over the tune with some wonderfully timed hammer on’s, sweet full and half note bends, and amazingly expressive scale runs. Yeah . . . you could call this tune a clinic in guitar work. Even during the instrumental break midway through the tune, you’ll hear these great guitar flourishes, started by one guitar and met in mid run by the second. This is one of those songs that the more you listen to it, the more stuff seems to pop out and say, “Hey! Did you hear me do that nifty little thing that I did there?”
Valkyrie sludge it down a tempo or two with the grinding and doom laden “Dawntide’s Breeze.” Still packed with that guitar virtuosity of the first track, but this tune is filled with a ton more menace. Again, the harmonies are sterling and the guitar solo is off the charts. The first guitar comes in all technically shimmering, firing off notes with the precision of a snipers aim, and then the second guitar takes over and just bulldozes everything in its way with a mighty tone of fuzz. Not to be out done, pay close attention to drummer Hawkins as he adds some nicely timed cymbal crashes towards the end of the verse coming out of the guitar solo. Interestingly enough, as doom filled as the music comes across, the lyrics paint quite a different picture and are damn inspiring in their call to erase the hatred and darkness from our lives and replace the crap with love. Not what I expected, but a message that I can honestly get behind. What did y’all expect from me? I tend my own garden for food on my table. I’m a hippy. Get over it.
“Apocalypse Unsealed” and “False Dreams” are more in line with the gloom and doom, lyrically speaking. Heavy and grinding tunes that convey the message loud and clear, these tunes reflect the Sabbath influences like a full moon on a perfectly still lake. Dark imagery mixes well with soaring harmonized guitar leads, which give us the slight glimmer of hope that we need to keep from packing it in. “The Gorge” is the tune that took us by surprise, filling the offices with its acoustic brilliance, reminiscent of the acoustic driven tunes from Zeppelin III. The tune starts off as a pensive piece, lilting around the country pasture, creating an image of peacefulness and serenity. Eventually, the tune gains more tempo and drive, as the woodland creatures from around the pasture gather together in a midday fling and a short dance under a brilliant sun. Anyway, that’s the way I hear it . . . but there’s also a lot of smoke in the room.
The album comes to a close with the epic title track, “Man of Two Visions.” I absolutely love this song about a guy trying to find his way through life, trying to find that ever elusive happiness, trying to find peace of mind in a world that won’t have any of that nonsense. The verses plod along in all of their doomy splendor, but explode into a colorful display of notes as out new found guitar heroes attack the darkened beast of reality with their six string weapons of mass destruction. Tastefully executed guitar passages bring Iron Maiden to mind, as does the rhythm section for that matter, but there’s none of that virtuosic cockiness. Their approach seems to come more from a place of necessity than of pomp and self gratification.
The title of the album couldn’t describe the music any more precisely. This is music with two visions. One being of a stark and dark reality of government oppression, social slavery, and the world we hate so much coming to a sudden and drastic end. The flip side of the album is a message of hope, love, and making the most of the flawed beings that we are. The band has wrapped all of these feelings into loosely grooving, but precisely executed capsules of sound, that take the imagination on a trip for the ages. Man of Two Visions. Wow. Valkyrie has grabbed our attention (thanks again Ray . . . we’ll flip the drool stained pillow for the next guest.)
Man of Two Visions (2008 Noble Origins) (Re-issue 2010 MeteorCity Records)
11-30-2008 by Swizzlenuts
Valkyrie has just put out their sophomore album after their debut crushed everything in its path. The band plays a hybrid of rock, doom, and heavy metal in such a new and refreshing way.
Valkyrie still has some stoner rock feeling, but the lethargic feeling is not in the music. The guitar harmonies produced by the brothers of Valkyrie are absolutely stunning; moreover, the evolution of the riffs to the harmonies and the solos rival the greats in their respective genres (Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, etc). Each riff starts off with a certain tone or idea then evolves into harmonies and goes off of the harmony and the riff to a solo that rips through the listeners ears. Dual vocals, superb bass lines mixed through the fantastic guitars, and drums keeping a good solid backbone make this album so fucking easy to listen to over and over. With only five songs and two instrumentals, the band can keep the listener entertained for Man of Two Visions’ 37 minutes. The two instrumentals are actually really good and make sense in context of the album; moreover, the guitar work in both of the songs is put together so well that the listener can’t help but relax to the guitar work.
Valkyrie’s album should be mentioned with the best of 2008 because its songwriting, catchy riffs, and all around uplifting mood the album creates. Man of Two Visions will continue to slay in the future!
Valkyrie (2006 Twin Earth Records) (Re-issue 2010 MeteorCity Records)
Those prematurely old souls in Valkyrie have finally released their debut full length and it’s a doozy. I first heard of this Harrisonburg, VA outfit with their Sunlight Shines EP, a three-song collection of some of the finest Pentagram by way of Hawkwind doom out there. Unlike a good number of their doom contemporaries, Valkyrie guitarists Pete and Jake Adams aren’t afraid to lay down some serious soloing (and if that’s not enough for ya, Kelly Carmichael from Pentagram/Internal Void joins the foursome on “Eternally There”). It seems like every song is aching to explode with some harmonized leads or some back and forth dueling. Valkyrie is doom with oomph, providing the dour vibe but never getting bogged down in plodding riffs.
What’s even more impressive is how uncannily they channel that late ’70’s sound. Some bands rehash the style of their influences. With Valkyrie, they just play the music as it was back when music wasn’t categorized in 300 different ways, and all that mattered was to plug in and play with conviction and soul.
This is an impressive debut. I could see these guys on a tour with the likes of The Hidden Hand and Earthride and holding their own. Great stuff (especially the solos).
– John Pegoraro (Arzgarth)
From hellridemusic.com, doom-metal.com:
The band name comes from an obscure 80s album cover by a group called English Dogs, on which green-skinned women ride dragons into battle. Before you roll your eyes, know that this tells only a small portion of the tale of this group of young doomsters, so don’t get all serious about it. The fact is, these dudes have done their homework, practiced like hell, and taken themselves just seriously enough to produce a sleeper of a melodic doom LP, straight from the underground to your sweating hands, and jokes about green-skinned women be damned.
These guys have obviously spent alot of time cozying up to their parent’s album collections, and it’s a good thing their parents had such good taste! I hear echoes of classic Tull and Zep, not to mention plenty of dual lead action that paints images of Maiden and Thin Lizzy. And don’t get mad or nothin’, but I could swear I hear some ca. ‘Yes Album’ Steve Howe in there as well. But like Janus, Valkyrie faces both the past and the future; they’re not about pure retro at all. There’s plenty of musical meat from the likes of Abdullah, Spiritus Mortis, VoodooShock, Wall of Sleep, Spirit Caravan, and Pentagram for carnivorous doomsters to sink their fangs into. Rumor has it that Kelly Carmichael, axe-master of Internal Void and Pentagram, contributes his trademark excellent guitar work to a track.
OK, so far so good. Heavy guitars, lots of melody, high, clean vocals and killer leads. And any band that calls those musical influences to mind has stolen a march on 99% of the dreck out there. I would be remiss in my duties as a reviewer, however, not to tell you how good these guys are live. Actually, good isn’t a strong enough word: try smokin’!! As much as I like this disc, it really doesn’t hold much of a candle to their live show, which is super-heavy, melodic, professional, and bung-tight. I was privileged to see them at Indy last summer; you really should have been there. I can also tell you that they wrap up the total package by being hellaciously nice guys, knowledgeable about tuneage, and great supporters of the live music community. In other words, they talk it like they walk it, just like all of us should. So listen to their album, but for God’s sake get out to one of their shows if they come anywhere near you.
– Kevin McHugh
From Ray Dorsey’s CHAOS REALM:
VALKYRIE – “Valkyrie” CD ’05 (Twin Earth, US) – Ever since I was a young boy, I have not played the silver ball. And, if I had, I probably wouldn’t steal the line from Pete Townshend, anyway. What I have done since a wee lad, however, is to have loved to visit the Shenandoah Valley. Something about the scenery of this beautiful stretch of Virginia, married with the mountainous bi-way of the Skyline Drive just touches me. Figure how cool it is then, that VALKYRIE comes to me by way of the town of Harrisonburg, pinpointed on Route 33 down that-away. When you throw in the fact that they recorded this debut full-lengther at Maryland’s Polar Bear Studios (birthplace to the latest by Pentagram, Falcon, Internal Void, etc.) things are looking promising. And, based on the few cuts I’d heard by the band previously, I was expecting a doom classic. What I was not expecting, however, is the kind of insanely great double lead guitar melodies that wash over this entire disc, and catapult it easily into my Top 10 for 2005. When I listen to magnificent stuff like “Sunlight Shines,” “Heralds Of The Dawn” or “Endless Crusade,” I’ve got to say…I think as much of stately, gorgeous hymns like “Throw Down The Sword” by Wishbone Ash as I do of modern-day doom. The guitar work of Jake & Pete Adams here speaks of men who, like the best in any field, transcend genres to make a complete work of their own. Wonderful stuff.
Diese Amiband steht für absolut trendfreien und traditionellen Doom der Marke 80er Pentagram. Heavygitarren brummen und walzen noch und nöcher aus den Boxen, getrieben von einer stählernen Rhythmusmaschinerie. Darüber thront ganz eigensinniger Kauzgesang mit leicht quäkigem Ausdruck. Genau das richtige Maß an Entrücktheit für unsereins. Wer sich über die immer bluesiger werdenden aktuellen Pentagram nicht mehr so recht freuen kann (eigentlich ein Frevel) und auch nicht unbedingt auf 70er Pentagram Stylisten wie Witchcraft und Burning Saviors schwört (Ginge das eigentlich? Ist doch auch frevelhaft.), der hat hier eine Band zu entdecken, die ganau in die metallischste Phase der kultigsten aller Doombands hineindrischt, als wären die letzten 22 Jahre gar nicht vergangen. Der Sound ist sehr organisch, sehr heavy und erfüllt mit Leben, was die Scheibe umso sympathischer klingen lässt. Die Strukturen der Songs sind eingängig, die Melodien allerdings recht spröde, ganz so wie beim Original. Man wird erst mit der Zeit gewahr, welch grandiose Minihymnen sich hier verborgen halten. Valkyrie kacken auf alle Modeerscheinungen im Doom, sparen sich dröhinige Ambientpassagen, Deathmetalgrowls oder Stonerrockaggressionen, andererseits auch kitschigen Gothicweltschmerz. Die Songs sind alles andere als kompliziert aufgebaut und gerade das ist ihr Vorteil. Den Doomfreaks wird es sicher gefallen und irgendwann werden Valkyrie verdient auf dem Doom Shall Rise landen.
– Sascha Maurer (Sir Lord Doom)
The Virginia doom machine is back and you’re about to be completely devastated. Valkyrie are a sonic shockwave of unbridled classic metal power and they finally have the killer production to match their musical muscle. Producer Chris Kozlowski (Pentagram, Blue Cheer, Spirit Caravan) has extracted and refined every ounce of the band’s astounding might to make their full-length debut for Georgia-based Twin Earth Records nothing short of legendary — and extremely worthy of your stereo’s highest volume settings! The basic ingredients of previous Valkyrie releases are all here: Sabbath-esque riffs, stunning Danzig/Cornell vocals, soaring Iommi-worship solos, and a relentless rhythm section. The Adams brothers wail more passionately than ever before on thick layers of guitar bliss (the end of “Eternally There” is almost too much to handle), but the real key to Valkyrie’s appeal is the ability to take influence from a long-standing metal sound and breathe exhilarating new life into it without ever seeming to long despondently for metal days of yore. Heavy metal is a synergistic art that requires mastery of the riff and the structure; Valkyrie are among the masters to whom metal’s apprentices should look. More than just a collection of ideas strung together haphazardly, this record is 40 minutes of the most solid writing I’ve ever encountered. From the chugging verses of “Endless Crusade” to the grandiosely imposing sounds in “Heralds of the Dawn”, they’re clearly serious about honest and enthralling music, bowing to no weak trend and following only the call of heavy metal within. I have seen Valkyrie grow into a true beast of metal, but the ride to Valhalla is just beginning.
– Jeremy Coulson
Review by MetalGeorge
“Valkyrie” is a stunning debut from this extremely promising Virginia-based Doom act; an eight song trip of the most vintage, honest sort, and a humbling reminder of just how beautiful simplicity can be when placed within the context of Rock Music. This four piece combine free-form arrangements and harmonized lead runs a la Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash, and incorporate a dizzying psychedelia to the proceedings, resulting in a sound both familiar yet unique.
While being a Doom act at its core, Valkyrie’s fluid adaptability and spacey, extended guitar jams lend itself an appeal to both Classic Rock and Traditional Metal fans as well. Of course, the epic and fantasy-laden nature of the lyrics probably isn’t hurting their cause, either. Another interesting aspect of the band is the ease with which dual guitarists/vocalists Jake and Pete Adams work with one another. Naturally, the sibling factor must play a part in this, but regardless, both Adams’ trade off vocal and guitar lines gracefully and comfortably.
Vocals really aren’t the centerpiece of the band, however, as the aforementioned “jams” tend to last for multiple minutes at a time. The guitar melodies tend to become lyrics in themselves, pushing each song forward and furthering each song’s particular story. This manipulation of their respective instruments is impressive, and fills me with anticipation as to where the band will go next.
As it stands now, Valkyrie has established a rock solid foundation with this debut, and looks prime set to follow in the footsteps of their idols on future efforts. With an appeal that is undeniable, and songs which retain their bite and shine through countless spins, Valkyrie are destined to make a name for themselves within the hallowed halls of Doom.