EYE-CATCHERS: ENFOLD DARKNESS, VALE OF PNATH, AND KEN SARAFIN
A couple days ago TheMadIsraeli sent me a link to DECIBEL’s online site, and what should greet my eyes upon landing there but THAT piece of arresting artwork up. I was so struck by the colors and the imagery that I almost forgot there was supposed to be a song on that page, too.
The song is a new single called “Lairs of the Ascending Masters” by a Nashville band signed to Sumerian called Enfold Darkness. It’s an interesting blackened take on tech metal, with spidery riffing, swarmy soloing, spit-fire drumming, and vocals that vault from growly lows to torture-victim shrieks of pain — all of it rushing along well above the speed limit. If that sounds attractive, hop over to DECIBEL and let “Lairs” give your head a good scouring.
Since I’ve heard the song several times, what I want to do is talk more about the artwork. It was created by Ken Sarafin, who happens to be the vocalist for a Denver-based band named Vale of Pnath. Vale of Pnath released a self-titled EP in 2009 and then a debut album last August on Willowtip Records called The Prodigal Empire. I haven’t heard the whole album, though I’ve seen good things written about the band in comments here at NCS as well as elsewhere, and I was certainly intrigued enough by the artwork of Vale’s vocalist to finally dip a toe in the water. As noted, I also took a deeper dive into Ken Sarafin’s art.
The song I heard as a Vale of Pnath taster was the title track to the new album. As in the case of “Lairs”, the music is technically flashy, but more straight-up tech-death without the black-metal trappings of Enfold Darkness. The dual guitars are really the commanding presence on “The Prodigal Empire”, trading licks and then swirling around each other in a dizzying display of harmony and conflict, while a non-stop drum barrage provides the underpinning. Check it out:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/04-The-Prodigal-Empire.mp3|titles=Vale of Pnath – The Prodigal Empire]
If you’re a fan of Obscura, Decrepit Birth, or The Faceless, and you don’t yet know about Vale of Pnath, their music is definitely worth exploring (and I intend to do just that myself).
Ken Sarafin also does a credible job roaring and howling along with the fascinating, demented scales of those two guitar maestros Vance Valenzuela and Mikey Reeves. I was very curious to see more of his visual art and found his Deviant Art home page (here). He has a large gallery of work at that site, and I picked a handful of pieces to display below. Some of these are album covers and some aren’t, but they’re all fucking cool.
It’s like being skull fucked by a palette…..
That might not be such a bad thing, right? The paint should provide some lubrication.
Nice. Got a bit of a Dan Seagrave vibe to some of his work.
One doesn’t really see the comparison with Dan Seagrave’s work. Any examples of his you might like to offer in particular?
Love the art, but Vale of Pnath is kinda meh.
The album is available on the Willowtip Bandcamp: http://willowtip.bandcamp.com/album/the-prodigal-empire
Enfold Darkness is one of the best rising bands out there right now.