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Vale of Pnath - Accursed Award winner

Vale of Pnath
by Liam Easley at 02 April 2019, 9:38 AM

For many, Melodic Death Metal has always had a blackened undertone, and VALE OF PNATH is no different. Their debut EP and two full-lengths are riddled with melody and eerie darkness, but their blackened side never becomes as present as it does on their new EP, “Accursed”. Like most Technical Death Metal fans, I was very excited for the latest VALE OF PNATH offering. It had been three years since the creatively titled “II,” and although it took five years for them to release their second full-length, I still had faith that this would be a full-length as well. When they dropped the self-titled single, I was a bit disappointed to see this would only be an EP, but the music was epic.

I don’t care that this is an EP, and my initial reaction is now irrelevant. And since it’s been about three years since the (and I cannot emphasize this enough) creatively titled “II,” I understand that an EP is what we get. Now, let’s get into the actual content. The first single, “Accursed,” was released, and my head was spinning. The song was melodic and blackened with a sinister breakdown near the end that was kicked off by an unpleasant yet fitting scraping of a stringed instrument. The whole song, and the aesthetically dark album artwork, gave off a blackened vibe.

Then came the promo. The whole album seemed lackluster compared to their previous releases, but as I listened more and more, it became clear that this was some of their finest work. If you ask me, the songwriting on “II,” an album whose title is the pinnacle of creativity as we know it, was not their best. While the guitar and the actual Death Metal on the album was well-composed, the use of organs and pianos only appeared in intros, outros and maybe interludes. These aspects would have been more impactful if they had been a reoccurring theme in the songs they were featured in.

Accursed,” however, shows great improvement in songwriting. There are multiple parts of this EP where violin is clearly heard and executed nicely. Not only this, but like their other releases, the guitar parts are layered fantastically, especially in “Obsidian Realm,” my personal favorite track on the record, as well as “Skin Turned Soil”. “Obsidian Realm” is the most diverse song on this record. Like other tracks on here, it features a heavy breakdown to finish off the song. However, they utilized their dual guitar attack very nicely with this breakdown, as there are moments where, not only does it get progressive, but it also gets math-y. The song is also one of the more technical ones on the EP and its riffs are very memorable.

Speaking of breakdowns, the last memorable breakdown I heard from this band was on their 2011 masterpiece, “The Prodigal Empire”. Now, this theme is back on tracks like “Accursed,” “Obsidian Realm,” and “Spectre of Bone”. The latter of the three has a simplistic but effective breakdown that shows off the band’s songwriting capabilities and successfully resurrects the sound of their first record.

VALE OF PNATH is a modern Death Metal classic. It goes without saying that this band’s creativity peaked when they came up with the name for their second full-length, “II,” but this EP is a step forward. It’s blackened, technical, melodic, and even progressive at times. They brought back the use of breakdowns as a dominant feature in their music, and the compositions are impeccable. VALE OF PNATH have released a truly pnasty record.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

1. Shadow and Agony
2. The Darkest Gate
3. Skin Turned Soil
4. Accursed
5. Audient Void
6. Obsidian Realm
7. Spectre of Bone
Vance Valenzuela – Guitars
Eric W. Brown – Drums
Harrison Patuto – Guitars
Reece Deeter – Vocals
Andy Torres – Bass
Record Label: Willowtip Records


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Edited 30 January 2023

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