Album: Fear Those Who Fear Him
Label: Century Media
Genre: Blackened Death Metal / Crust / Doom Metal
Release Date: June 2, 2017
Formed in 2010 by Greg Macintosh (vocals/guitar) of Paradise Lost fame, Vallenfyre burst on the scene with a pure shot of crusty death, swaggering in with crushing first album “A Fragile King” and following that up later with 2014’s even more hostile “Splinters.” Unlike most bands, they devolved their sound as they went along, moving away from the melodicisms of “King” and into heavier, simpler territory with “Splinters.” This wasn’t a bad thing, however, as the more direct and brutal they became, the more interesting their sound evolved. And now they bring us “Fear Those Who Fear Him,” and I’ll be damned if they didn’t up the ante yet again.
This release is a battering ram of crust and death and doom blackened over the flames of Hell itself. Somehow, someway, they made their sound heavier, darker, more desolate, more desperate, and infinitely angrier. You can feel the fury seething from the grooves, from every vocal bark to every heartless guitar chord and in every beat of the drum. This album is devastating.
There’s bits of metal history in here: the callous crust and doom of Celtic Frost, the punk of Discharge, the epicness of Bathory, and hell, there’s even morsels of Napalm Death in here. But Vallenfyre makes it all their own. Macintosh leads the charge with his pitiless guitar work and vocals that are as guttural as possible and yet still pretty easy to understand. The rage is evident in every nook and crack of every single song, whether it’s a violent blaster like “Nihilist,” a pummeling, discordant two-minute assault of pure aggression, or the nearly six-minute soul-crushing doom of “An Apathetic Grave.” Macintosh lashes out at authority on every level, from religious to political, corporate to personal. This is a screed against injustice perpetuated by those in power and against a society that seeks to control the thoughts and expressions of its populace. This is rebellion, pure and simple.
And simple is the best word to describe this release. Vallenfyre has distilled all of their most potent aspects into their purest form. The thrash and death are more intense, the doom and crust more devastating, and it’s all coated in a blackened sear that seals the deal. How it is possible for a band to sound even heavier than it did on its first two releases (which were both heavy as Hell) seems incredible to me, and yet they’ve done it here. The lyrics in “An Apathetic Grave” says it all: “Tormented still and stripped to the bone.” That’s this album, in a nutshell.
Standout tracks (besides the ones mentioned above), include:
“Kill All Your Masters,” is a two-minute assault and declaration of intent. There is no kidding around here, no atmospherics, just pure, straight-ahead brutality that will force your fists into the air in utter defiance. The rumble of the drums one minute into the song is a martial call to action, and the pit will be seething during this tune when they play it live. If you don’t want to burn down a church or a government building after hearing this one, then you must be a descendant of Gandhi.
“Amongst the Filth” shows off the mid-paced thump of the band, riding in steady and even and simply abusing the listener with a steady onslaught of ripping riffs and thudding drums. This is what it’s like to be crushed in a stampede of horses all charging at the same pace, matching the deadly stomp of their hooves to the same beat.
“The Merciless Tide” is another example of this steady pummeling, the song taking on the life of its title: a merciless tide of heaviness. This one is bit on the doomy side, a sound that by now Vallenfyre has perfected to its core essence. You can feel the hope drain away as the riffs circle in on themselves, and with each short breakdown into gloom, the song drowns you in bleakness. Uncompromising.
“Temple of Rats” closes things on a punkier, thrashier note. Jangled, angular, walloping, this one locks in and beats you with its hammer strikes until you fall to your knees in submission. As a final statement, it’s a good summation of what has comes before. There is no backing off from the callousness and the naked righteousness.
“Twelve songs. No Samples. No triggers. No bullshit,” is how Macintosh described this album and his words ring true. This is balls to the wall doom, obdurate death, crushing crust, all blackened and punky and trve. If you’re looking for something sweet and nice, uplifting and anthemic, please turn away. This is honest, raw, brutal metal for a dishonest, fake, and inhumane world. This is the state of 2017, and Vallenfyre stare at it, unflinching, and give it the middle finger.
1. Born to Decay
4. An Apathetic Grave
6. Amongst the Filth
7. Kill All Your Masters
8. The Merciless Tide
9. Dead World Breathes
10. Solider of Christ
11. Cursed From the Womb
12. Temple of Rats
Total Playing Time: 39:00