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Valhalla – Lightning in the Sky: The Valhalla Anthology Award winner

Valhalla
Lightning in the Sky: The Valhalla Anthology
by Rachel Montgomery at 27 November 2019, 11:41 AM

VALHALLA is an obscure New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWBHM) band that formed in England sometime in 1980. The band released one single, “Lightning in the Sky,” before disbanding in 1982. Cult Metal Classics released a compilation of their songs, both published and previously unreleased, on Oct. 31, 2019. With a remastered sound and old band pictures, the compilation is a must for fans of the NWBHM.

The first song, “Lightning in the Sky,” begins with some nice, expected thunder ambiance and a traditional NWBHM riff. The vocals echo, but they’re clear and not too far back from the instrumentals. The playing style is high energy and despite the 1980s production and somewhat nasally vocals, it’s the song’s high energy that makes it listenable. The high-pitched guitar solo gives a frenzied intensity to the song that doesn’t let up until the end.

Next, we have two versions of “These Sunday Nights.” The first reminds me of 1960s Surf Rock. The down-tuned guitars and wah-driven harmonies combined with the ease in the song, evokes a hard-edged trip to the beach. The echoing chorus is a beautiful touch, and I love the smooth, speeding flow of the melody throughout. The guitar solo is high and tight, but short, since the band features a long outro instead.

The alternative version is more Punk Rock, starting with distorted, sloppy guitar playing and sounding like it was recorded live or in a garage. The melody is faster and more upbeat than the first version, and the vocals are further back, again giving the song a Garage Rock vibe. The echoing choir is present in both choruses, but the outro has more if an intense high-and-tight melody. While I prefer the first one since it has more unique elements, the second one would have been more sellable for its day.

Love Stealer” begins with a drum roll and an uplifting chord progression which reminds me of Christmas jingles which can be blamed on the perfect fifth in the riff. It goes into a lower riff 40 seconds in and kicks off a vocal melody, not utilizing the perfect fifth again until the solo. The harmonies in the chorus almost kick off a call-and-response thing and the melody speeds along with the song.

Tell Me Where” begins with a synthetic opening that sounds like an organ. It reminds me more of Psychedelic Rock akin to THE DOORS. The vocals are smooth and the reverberation on this track gives it even more of a psych or early Progressive Rock vibe. The chorus picks up in intensity from the smooth verses and the guitar solo is a varied, intricate composition on its own. Throughout the song, the instrumentation is very progressive and hinges more to 1960s roots than 80s Metal.

Woman You’re Love” begins with a riff that revs up in the beginning, preparing to take the song into an intense ride. However, I was surprised with the main melody turned out to be smooth. It gains a little intensity with the vocal melody, but not much. The ending can be repetitive, other than that, it’s an interesting, Progressive ride.

Overall, the band is solid musically and uses unique, Progressive techniques in its songs. Personally, I believe if this music came out ten years earlier or later, they could have really shined, either in the emerging Prog Rock or Alternative Rock scenes, respectively. While the production is clearly 1980s, and some of the production problems would normally have lost points for me, for their time and for their level, it was serviceable.

Songwriting: 8
Production: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Lightning in the Sky
2. Those Sunday Nights
3. Those Sunday Nights (Alternative)
4. Love Stealer
5. Tell Me Where
6. Woman You’re Love
Lineup:
Nigel Hopkins – Vocals
Mark Evans – Guitars
Joe – Guitars
Chris Stretton – Bass
Steve Bee – Drums
Record Label: Cult Metal Classics
     


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Edited 08 December 2019
 

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