Vallenfyre: Fear Those Who Fear Him
Century Media Records 2017
Compared to a lot of genres under the umbrella of metal, doom is very much universal and during the late 80’s in Halifax, the north of England saw the rise of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. These bands were both signed to Peaceville Records and it planted Halifax directly on the scene in the heavy metal world. When you consider their years of service, Paradise Lost are one of the most stable heavy metal bands and guitarist Greg Mackintosh, is one of the chief composers of Paradise Lost and in 2010, Mackintosh joined forces with former My Dying Bride guitarist Hamish Glencross to form Vallenfyre.
Vallenfyre are interesting band, all bets would be down that two doom maestros would continue playing what they know. But, no, Vallenfyre use this to expand on their comfort zone and slam a huge coffin lid of death metal down onto their trademark doom creating an extremely potent mix. Vallenfyre have steadily created a decent following and 2017 see’s the band release their 3rd album, ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ on the 2nd of June.
With a new Paradise Lost album imminent, it was highly unlikely that we would expect to see something from Vallenfyre this year. However, Vallenfyre to do not disappoint, ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ is as fully as you would expect from the band. The album is crammed full of excellent death growls, laden with the slow funerary marches that you only get with the best doom and crust bands, interspersed with a killer grindcore beat onslaught.
Initially, ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ doesn’t just tear off your head and shit down your throat, but rather it broods along with the albums introduction ‘Born to Decay’, through piercing feedback over a looped “fear those who fear him” conjures up images of 80’s death metal, from Possessed to ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ era Death and although not death metal, it is even reminiscent of recent releases by Hell. ‘Born to Decay’ grinds through riff and time changes as builds up to the crescendo of ‘Messiah’. This is where ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ comes into its own, trading riff after riff of Darkthrone standards before dropping down into grindcore territory that would appeal to fans of Lee Dorrian era Napalm Death.
Although Vellenfyre has always consisted of Mackintosh and Glencross, the factor which makes ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ stand out is the absolutely barnstorming drumming from Paradise Lost and Vallenfyre new boy Waltteri Väyrynen. The drumming that Väyrynen conducts during ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ is utterly relentless, from the most simplistic slow heavy handed beat, to the Duracell Bunny on crack grindcore drumming, it is the constant switch in beats whilst Mackintosh and Glencross do their thing that truly makes ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ worth listening to.
As an album, ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ is a step forward from Vallenfyre’s previous efforts of ‘Splinters’ (2014) and ‘A Fragile King’ (2011), each song has been meticulously crafted and strategically placed to give ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ the perfect blend of timings, it knows when to push forward at breakneck speed with the fantastic ‘Kill All Your Masters’, ‘Nihilist’ and ‘Soldier of Christ’, all of which contain a memorable chorus and if you listen close enough, you can actually hear the mosh pit exploding to these songs. However, the accolades for ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ do not all belong to the fast songs, yes, these songs add the energy and a quick nitro burst, but it is the slower songs where Glencross and Mackintosh show their mastery. ‘An Apathetic Grave’ has all the long drawn death grind of Obituary in their prime, before adding the melodic elements of the recent Paradise Lost releases, the perfect nod to show who pulls the strings in that band too and shows Mackintosh at the top of his game. Although, do not for one minute think that Vallenfyre are second rate and contain the doom driven songs that were not good enough to enter the Paradise Lost sanctum as this is nowhere near true. Yes, Vallenfyre contains 2/3 members that are in Paradise Lost, but Vallenfyre have a different edge to them, a much more aggressive side that even comes through on the slower tracks which makes ‘An Apathetic Grave, ‘Amongst the Filth’ and the sublime ‘Cursed From the Womb’ standout, not just on ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’, but also amongst their peers.
As stated above, ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ is a step forward and large step towards Vallenfyre shaking off the chains of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride and should be respected in their own right. ‘Fear Those Who Fear Him’ is as heavy and aggressive as being happy slapped by an anvil, yet as solemn and mournful as a funeral dirge, it is extremely fun to listen to whatever your mood. 80/100
Adam McCann/ MHF Magazine