Jan 192012

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.



  1. It’s like being skull fucked by a palette…..

  2. Nice. Got a bit of a Dan Seagrave vibe to some of his work.

  3. 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

  4. Enfold Darkness is one of the best rising bands out there right now.

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