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Valgrind - Condemnation Award winner

by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 16 July 2020, 4:37 AM

VALGRIND is an Italian death metal band formed back in 1996 by Massimiliano.  He had some problems getting the band going in the beginning; from their formation to 2002, VALGRIND was only able to release a few demos and an EP.  However, in 2012 they came raging back and released three full lengths and an EP by 2018.  “Condemnation,” is their latest full length and the band shows no signs in slowing down. Although their previous full length “Blackest Horizon,” definitely wasn’t a run of the mill death metal experience, it was obviously rooted in a lot of old school sensibilities.  Likewise, “Condemnation,” runs along that same train of thought but takes it much further.

I’m not saying this is some odd progressive ambient jazz album—this is still without a doubt VALGRIND. But their vision for their sound and where they want to take it has become all the more clear and efficient.  In essence, I was constantly pleasantly surprised by “Condemnation,” but the band’s brutal style still kicked my ass the entire time. The production/mixing/mastering must be complimented for this album sounds stunning.  The individual instruments can easily be followed through each song, making some of the more standout parts all the more impressive.  Despite the sound clarity, none of the music’s edge or bite has been compromised. In fact, many of the tracks are centered around a dizzying array of guitars that hit with massive musical fists while still retaining a keen sense of melody and groove.  The album beings with the simple titled, “Intro,” and it is surprisingly Gothic laced with the keys giving off an old horror movie vibe.

The first proper full length track is “The Curse Of Pegasus Spawn,” and the guitars are immediate in their old school ferocity.  Behind the brutality, however, likes a special sort of groove that seems to fill in every available moment in the song.  The groove is dropped several times throughout the song, replaced by rapid fire melody that creates a psychedelic disarray.  The snappy and crispy snare attack only adds to the guitars psychosis for an experience that leads directly into an emotional guitar solo that I wouldn’t had ever thought to have heard in a song like this.The title track, “Condemnation,” is one of the more uncompromising tracks on the album.  The guitars keep at the mixture of old school death metal with unconventional riff patterns that VALGRIND have always done so well but have really brought it out for all to see this time around.  A lot of death metal bands couldn’t pull off riffs like these and still keep such a bulldozer of a sound but the title track makes it seem to effortless for the band.  The guitar solo, which is more searing than the previous song’s, revs up to insane speed before going into a clever melodic passage.

The Day,” has a slower, more grinding presence in the beginning but the tempo turns on a dime to near impossibly fast drums and the low rumble of metallic riffs cutting through it all.  About halfway through the song, the riffs break apart and reform into groove that sets up the rest of the song, paving the way for another well done solo and melodic yet technical music. “Storm Birds Descent,” is one of my favorite tracks on the album.  It is beyond heavy but not for the sake of it.  The riffs, vocal patterns…every piece as a reason for being and it is a blast hearing this song build up on itself—the flow of the song structure feels very much like its own living entity.  Around the 2:10 mark, a harrowing scream pierces through the veil of the melodic bridge a hint of the chaos to come in the form of the short but sweet guitar and the accompanying rhythm guitar riffs.

The final track, “Goddess of the Salt Sea,” is a burner of track, very frantic with unlimited energy to back it up. The guitar and bass twist and turn, moving through the meat of the song like a snake stalking its prey.  The drums highlight the bits of melody that spark little explosions throughout the song.  The ending of the song feels like the entire album has been leading to this moment, the chaos filled to the brim and shot up so high it has no where to go but into an upward explosion. VALGRIND’s “Condemnation,” is a whirlwind of a death metal album and a blast of fresh air for the scene.  It has a lot of ideas and pulls them off without the album losing focus or sounding like it has too much going on at once. Highly recommended.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Intro
2. The Curse Of Pegasus Spawn
3. Entangled In A World Below
4. Condemnation
5. Eater of Hearts
6. The Day
7. Furies
8. Storm Birds Descent
9. Divination – Marked By The Unknown
10. Goddess Of The Salt Sea
Massimiliano Elia – Keyboards, Guitars
Daniele Lupidi – Vocals, Bass
Gianmarco Agosti – Drums
Umberto Poncina – Guitars
Record Label: Memento Mori


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Edited 01 December 2022

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