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Valleys – Experiment One: Asylum

Valleys
Experiment One: Asylum
by Anton Sanatov at 20 September 2016, 10:22 PM

Welcome to the crazed place that is the human mind; the place where versatile cells collide in lustful salutations to conjure up a rare madness that deserves applause.  The walls are padded but not sealed and all the dark, mischievous genius that rolls around within is bound to leap over the gates and spread throughout streams, across the ebullient masses of like-minded organisms.

That being said…there should always be a method to any high-grade madness. If one can harness the powers from within that state, they can create a Metal remedy to all the papered masses.

Ok, this is starting to get weird, so I’ll just get to it. On “Experiment Volume One: Asylum” the North Carolina quartet VALLEYS are attempting to get their hands on a fresh dose of insanity and turn it into a Progressive Metal treatment…but seem to struggle in keeping their own mental faculties under control.

I will be therapeutically honest here – this album is a good-hearted mess. By all means it does have virtuous intentions in its conceptual ambitions, but their execution however, harm its chances of recovery, so to speak. The band’s downfall lies in their over-zealous attempts to cram as many of their favoured styles into the record as they can without compositional cohesion – which makes the album sound like a confusing pastiche of Progressive, Electronic and Post-Hardcore influences.

The Djenty Metalcore “A Tension” opens up with a derivative electronic intro that leads the listener into a chaotic genre standard that is full of unnecessary breakdowns, loose song structures and weak, unconvincing vocals. This unfortunately sets the trend for the tracks to come, with numbers like “Desperate Me” and “Take Me Home” following the same pathology. In the midst of these is “Unravelling”, a track that actually shows some promise and could have possibly been cultivated into a solid Hardcore track, were it not for the presence of the unabating breakdowns that make it stray from the path ever so pitifully.

VALLEYS seem to get a firmer grip on their sound towards the second half of the record. “Choices” is another offering that is full of Post-Harcore potential that bares similar sonic textures to outfits like HEART IN HAND, but unfortunately the band’s insistence on sprinkling it with needless Djent infusions and yet more heavy breakdowns diffuses its musical spark. Following this comes the highlight of the album that is “Compassion”. The melodic ballad brings the band’s talents to life with an organic, emotive Melodic Hardcore offering that closes with a pleasantly unexpected Jazz influenced outro that makes this track shine like a diamond in the rough. The band then refuse to let go of that momentum and churn out “Finding Solace” and “10, 000” Piece”, both of which soar with Fusion guitar licks and apt arrangements that see the band truly apply themselves and put their influences in order.

The production is yet another element that lets this record down. Given the already disorderly nature of the album, the lacklustre quality of the recording and the overly layered sound make it for an even more perplexing experience.  Although there are moments when the delay-laced guitar lines soar above the havoc and create for a nice atmospheric ambiance – although the credit should most like be attributed to guitarist Rj Riggle  - the instruments are swallowed by heavy over-production and only add insult to injury.

Overall -  “Experiment One: Asylum” is indeed a madhouse…one overrun by its patients. By refusing to adhere to their conceptual premise and failing to focus on one stylistic direction VALLEYS end up being lost in the very madness that they attempted to explore.

Songwriting: 5
Originality: 4
Memorability: 4
Production: 5

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. A Tension
  2. Unravelling
  3. Desperate Me
  4. The Other Side
  5. Take Me Home
  6. Choices
  7. Compassion
  8. Finding Solace
  9. 10, 000 Pieces
  10. The Death of Me
Lineup:
Jayson Mitchell – Vocals
Robert Meikle - Drums
Rj Riggle - Guitar
Nathan Dickens – Bass
Record Label: Independent
     


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