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Valhalla Lights - My Gracious Highway

Valhalla Lights
My Gracious Highway
by Tarryn Campbell at 21 May 2018, 6:25 AM

VALHALLA LIGHTS is an independent Hard Rock band based out of Bryon Bay, New South Wales, Australia, borne from the backbone of Bryon Bay's legendary Stoner/Psychedelic Rock act FORT and more recently, the former frontwoman of THE BLACK LULLABY. 2015 saw the release of their debut album, “Krypton” which was created and released posthumously (using pre-production vocal recordings) in honor of the band's first vocalist, Phoebe Black, who tragically passed away just days before the band was to enter the studio. VL soldiers on – their latest album (as well as the first to feature vocalist Ange Saul)was released in 2017: “My Gracious Highway”

In all honesty, I was pleasantly surprised. Being that I was previously unfamiliar with the band, I had no idea what to expect. The first track of thirteen “Rise Above” drew me in right away – between gritty riffs you just wanna headbang to, Ange's hauntingly beautiful voice, and of course a face-melting guitar solo… what's not to love?! Now I'll admit, “Opposite Sides” which follows immediately after was a bit of a letdown in comparison. However, “World on Fire” most certainly did not disappoint. Literally gave me chills! Something about it really spoke to me in this way I'm afraid I cannot accurately describe. Give it a listen and you'll know exactly what I mean. In fact… I loved this so much that I re-played it twice during my first listen through of the album. Another favorite of mine is “The One”. I'm a sucker for a good ballad and there are just so many things right about this. Sounded like the song was actually echoing inside my head rather than playing from my computer speakers for one – utterly hypnotizing. As well, I enjoy that one element (vocals, in this case) is unequivocally the star of the show here and there's nothing that reads filler or distraction. Makes it easy to focus on the message word for word which is exactly what I want from any ballad.

Let it be known that I live and breathe 80's rock & metal. On that note, I feel I must point out something I totally dig about these guys: guitar solos, guitar solos everywhere! “Someday” really drives the point home on that front, combining something (dare I say?) retro with a distinctive and fresh sound as is the case with much of this album. Granted, I can't strictly praise as there are a few songs I wasn't so crazy about and/or weren't particularly memorable. That being said, what I heard was something I haven't heard before. Between those harsh and in your face kind of tracks along with some slow and soft ones, you're treated to a healthy amount of variety but without that 'all over the place' feel no one wants – a feat which can be rather difficult to accomplish. Withal, I found myself writing down bits and pieces of lyrics that seemed to 'call out' to me. For example:

I kept my eyes closed for they revealed my pain.

Is this really living or am I just alive?

I dare say VALHALLA LIGHTS have gained themselves a new fan.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Rise Above
2. Opposite Sides
3. World on Fire
4. Escape to Silence
5. Hammer the Witch
6. Beautiful
7. The One
8. Darker side of Love
9. Someday
10. Running
11. Crucify
12. Shadows
13. Punk
Lineup:
Ange Saul – Vocals
George Christie – Guitar
Brent Crysell – Bass
Deon Driver – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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