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Valdrin - Beyond The Forest Award winner

Beyond The Forest
by Daniel Fox at 10 July 2014, 6:08 PM

If some of you like your extreme music sublimely misanthropic, technical, yet utterly atmospheric, look no further than USA's VALDRIN. Released last year was their debut full-length, “Beyond the Forest”; nay, no cheesey Black Metal splurge. In fact, don't even bother trying to categorise this music; allow oneself to be mesmerised.

The title track begins the album, a 10-minute-long epic. Incessant are the blastbeats, hypnotic are the tremolos. But there is far too much colour in the riffing to construe this as a simple Black Metal track; the riff arrangements that follow entertain us with fancy, discordant progressions, and a bass line that (for once in this realm of Metal) cuts through. Determined listening brings us to unexpected passages; melodic dirges, beautiful acoustics, and marvelous guitar solos. “Serpent Willow” is a short and not-so-sweey barrage of stupendously technical and brutal riffage, but as blast beats morph into grooving chugs and back again, change in moods violently rupture.

“Through the Catacombs” is a beautifully evocative piece that combines early DIMMU BORGIR with a stronger riff attack, and a mesmerising grasp of integration between technical guitar mastery and haunting atmosphere. The synth tracks are one of the trump cards of this track; it's all well and good to come up with an otherwise-pretentious and coy song title, but to back it up with evocative music that aurally paints an atmosphere is more than justification.  “In the Vortex of Time – Relinguish Flesh” carries on this mantra somewhat, but far more inflated with aggressive blastbeats and an enormously wide synth tapestry. Once again drawing on the early melodic Black Metal of the 90's, and perhaps a little from DARK FOREST.

One of my favorite releases this year (in retrospect, last year!), regardless of obscurity, and not for a lack of quality, this album paints a grim picture, and is wonderfully executed. I cannot wait for a follow-up.

5 Star Rating

1. A Drain in the River
2. Beyond the Forest
3. Rusalka Succubus
4. Serpent Willow
5. Impaled Visions Breed Within the Vines
6. Calling tho the Canidae Hordes
7. Through the Catacombs
8. Come Forth
9. Darkness as Black as Evil
10. Battles in the Medieval Sky
11. In the Vortex of Time - Relinquish Flesh
12. Forgotten Souls
Carter Hicks – Guitars, Synth, Vocals
James Lewis – Bass
Ryan Maurmeier – Drums
Record Label: Blast Head Records


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