» Blog Archive Review: Vallenfyre Show No Fear With Cataclysmic Album -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews

vallenfyre fear those There’s a lot of talk in metal about progression and regression, (Particularly by myself) in which bands are given an ultimatum: progress or die. Many a band lose steam because they fail to do something new, ultimately fading back into irrelevance. Some bands can surely live off the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality for a good while before it gets stale, but often you see a band, once heralded as the new “it” band of the year, fade into the void of the underground scene. But what of regression, though? Is that a thing? Is it acceptable? Why would a band do that in the first place? Vallenfyre did exactly that, and they probably have answers.

What started as a side project has now evolved into a resurgence in death metal for Gregor Mackintosh. Having gone through numerous stylistic changes with his main band, Paradise Lost, his foray back into death metal (particularly the Swedish kind) has infected his main project as well. Splinters, the band’s second album, was a huge success in the metal underground, allowing them to gain a larger following with  highly positive reviews. Teaming up with Kurt Ballou of Converge once again, Fear Those Who Fear Him has a lot to live up to, and yet the band opted to not try to copy their previous efffort: Fear Those features the signature, Swedish death metal crossed with doom metal style, but this time it’s far more primal, savage, and down to earth, despite carrying the demonic undertones Vallenfyre are known for.

vallenfyre fear those 2There’s nothing held back as Vallenfyre kicks things off with the 1-2 combo of “Born to Decay” and “Messiah,” essentially heralding in this less polished direction. While Splinters and A Fragile King are by no means “clean” albums, it seems the new-found success in the band has inspired them to B-line it in the opposite direction. As things progress, you eventually start to encounter the band’s doom-inspired material, which has always been one of their strong points. “An Apathetic Grave” comes along early after some unrelenting opening tracks, quickly changing pace before the album’s weakness starts to show.

Yes, it’s not all black sunshine for Vallenfyre, as their stylistic change comes with a double-edged sword that might end up hurting the album in the long run. With the shorter, more grindcore and powerviolence inspired material coming into play, it becomes obvious that the best of the riffs went to the doomier songs. One could argue that the songs of the same aesthetic were holding the best riffs on Splinters as well, but riffs of that quality were found on the faster, sped-up tracks and not solely on the previously mentioned.

Make no mistake: Fear Those is a damn good album and Vallenfyre are still one of the heaviest bands around today, so it should be noted that these doom-laden songs are among the band’s best material. Seemingly getting better as they go on, “Cursed from the Womb” is a cataclysmic penultimate track that almost feels like it’s coming the vacuous emptiness and a place darker than Mackintosh and his band have ever tapped into.

Vallenfyre fear those 3The Entombed influence is felt throughout the runtime, especially with “Degeneration,” which is among the meatier and more riff-heavy tracks on the album. The shorter songs even serve as a refresher at certain points, with “Dead World Breathes” clocking in at 40 seconds and polarizing the previous track, “The Merciless Tide.” While memorable riffs may be in a fewer number here, Vallenfyre surely know how to pace an album and keep the listener engaged.

All in all, though, Fear Those Who Fear Him is Vallenfyre breaking down and regressing into the primal influences that drive their band to the fullest of their ability right now. Titanic yet putrid in production and constantly keeping you engaged in what the band is doing, Vallenfyre essentially show that a band can regress and still be as engaging as the rest of their discography. There might be a few stumbles here and there, but as the year goes on, you’d be hard-pressed to find an album that encompasses all aspects of heaviness so effectively.

Fear Those Who Fear Him is available everywhere now. You can stream “An Apathetic Grave” below.

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