Nov 302011

(This is the second of today’s two NCS reviews of A Fragile King. The author of this one is Islander.)

Much has already been written, including in our own articles at this site, about what prompted Greg Mackintosh to write Vallenfyre’s music and to bring his friends together to record it. But although the album may have been born from the death of Mackintosh’s father, A Fragile King is anything but sentimental.

At a time when the most popular death metal is all about flash and speed, sonic firestorms calculated to make jaws drop in wonder at the performers’ technical wizardry, Vallenfyre throw themselves back in time to recapture the gory glory of European death metal in its early days, when young dudes who would become legendary were prowling the musical landscape under names like Nihilist, Dismember, and Bolt Thrower. Communing with those grisly spirits, Vallenfyre have produced a master work of doom-shrouded, early-days death metal.

The album owes its success as much to tone as to style. The bass and rhythm guitar are tuned low and heavily distorted, producing that beautifully raw, crushing, gut-churning tone of giant chainsaws cutting through dense old wood. The higher-register (but still distorted) guitar leads and solos provide a piercing contrast to all that mammoth grinding — but the sound is no less ill. The beautifully crafted leads and solos writhe and squirm and bore into the skull like overheated brain drills, the insidiousness of radiation sickness compared to the blown-transformer buzz of the other stringed instruments, but equally deadly.

The percussion rhythms are also something of a throw-back. With minimal use of blast-beats and double-bass, Adrian Erlandsson enlivens the music with fills that are as interesting as they are remorseless (and, of course, we get a healthy serving of tasty d-beats, too). And then, there are Greg Macktintosh’s vocals . . . Continue reading »

Nov 302011

(This is the first of two NCS reviews of A Fragile King by Vallenfyre. The author of this one is TheMadIsraeli.)

If you didn’t already get the point from our numerous posts about these guys, they’re the shit.  Islander was going to review this, and I hope he still does. I’d hate to think I stole some fun from him, but considering that this is filthy, dank, dingy, doom-soaked, old-school death metal, it’s right up my fucking alley and I can’t resist writing a review.  If you’re a total whore for bands like Asphyx or Hail Of Bullets, as I am, you’ll find a comfortable home here.

If the banshee wail of feedback that starts “All Will Suffer” doesn’t give you a clue, its crunchy buzz-saw toned opening trudge of a riff will.  The entire song is a slog through disease-ridden, stygian marshes at its finest.  The first thing that immediately sticks out is a quality that makes for great death metal:  The ability of a band to insert subtle hints of melody into an otherwise atonal framework.  This is definitely one of the strengths that Vallenfyre has going for them in spades.  A Fragile King is loaded to the brim with memorable half-melodies, we’ll call them.

“Desecration” actually has a purely melodic outro, a mournful one with an almost funeral-doom character, in contrast to the song’s otherwise dissonant and sinister aura.  Other tunes like “Ravenous Whore” or “Cathedrals of Dread” bring the speedier moments of savagery, eviscerating everything above and below.

The riffs are solid, burdensome, and colossal in scope.  Listening to them almost produces a sensation of being drowned in a tidal wave of blood-soaked flesh. What also hooks me about this album is the absolutely immense Winter vibe (fittingly, I recently wrote a “Revisiting the Classics” piece on Into Darkness). “Seeds” really channels that feeling, but raises it (or rather sinks it) to an entirely new level of grim and morbid.  You can literally feel yourself subsiding into the floor. Continue reading »

Oct 282011

A short time ago this morning, Vallenfyre released their first official music video for music from their forthcoming debut, A Fragile King (hitting the streets via Century Media on November 1). The video features the song “Cathedrals of Dread”, which Vallenfyre frontman and songwriter Greg Mackintosh has described as a condemnation of religion: “I am a staunch atheist, and I think that all religions are quite strange—and the people who control them are very sinister. This quote by Edward Gibbon says it all: ‘Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.'”

Musically, the song itself is an interplay between crawling, crushing, distortion-heavy doom and a more up-tempo barrage of old-school death metal — a raw, stomping buzz of chainsaw riffing and thundering rhythms. It’s grim without being the least bit ponderous.

As for what’s depicted in the video, Greg Mackintosh described it this way in our recent interview of him (posted here): “It is taking the sheep mentality of religion a step further. Kind of a more black and white and more visceral version of the lyrical content of the song.” You can watch it after the jump. Continue reading »

Oct 272011

Anyone who’s been reading NO CLEAN SINGING over the last two months knows how pumped we are for the release of the debut album, A Fragile King, by Vallenfyre. Hell, we got very excited before we knew who was in this band or how they came together, just based on hearing pieces of two songs the band had released on a 7-inch single — which apparently was sufficient to land them a record contract with Century Media. Sharp ears, those Century Media folks have.

Once we found out who was in Vallenfyre, our excitement grew. The band was started by Greg Mackintosh, whose name you will recognize as the long-standing guitarist and a co-founding member of Paradise Lost. He wrote Vallenfyre’s music and the lyrics and called together a group of friends to fill out this band — and they happen to be top-shelf musicians too:   Hamish Glencross (My Dying Bride) – Rhythm and Lead Guitars; Mully – Rhythm Guitars;  Scoot (Doom, Extinction of Mankind) – Bass; and Adrian Erlandsson (At the Gates, Paradise Lost) – Drums.

Many albums are inspired by the songwriter’s personal experiences, but A Fragile King is a more personal creation than most. The music and the lyrics were largely the result of Greg Mackintosh’s effort to work through the grief he experienced over the death of his father John from cancer. It’s an album that’s in part a reflection of the anguish and the anger he felt, in part a tribute to his dad, and in part a re-connecting to the kind of metal he loved in younger and happier days — a voyage back in time to a place of refuge and comfort. Continue reading »

Oct 242011

We’ve been fixated on the forthcoming Century Media album by the UK’s Vallenfyre since we first heard excerpts from the band’s two-song Desecration single in August. We’ve followed news about the band and A Fragile King with slavish fervor since then, and have watched as hunger for the release has spread like wildfire — at least among fans with a discriminating taste for old-school European death-doom.

The latest piece of news — and it’s a big fucking piece — is that the entire album is now streaming at the Hails and Horns web site. Even better, there’s a feature accompanying the stream that includes track-by-track comments by the band’s founder/songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost), plus a revealing interview.

I’m going to withhold any detailed comments about the music for now, because we’ll have our own review. I’ll simply say that this is everything I hoped and expected it would be. GO HERE to listen. And make sure you have un-interruptable time on your hands, because once you start, you really won’t won’t to stop before hearing all of it.

Oct 222011

Because of work-related travel and longer hours than usual this week, I didn’t have time for my usual daily interhole browsing for metal news and new music. So I did that this morning, while listening to the last piece of music in this post. I found a half-dozen items that I thought were well worth sharing, and they’re collected in this post. Almost all of them are new videos, and there’s tremendous diversity in the music. The subjects are Vallenfyre, King Conquer, Devin Townsend (with a new song), Shining, Decapitated, and finally, William Basinski.

And yeah, the meerkats are still secretly controlling the world, according to the NCS lorises. They think they’ve identified the kingpin. I don’t buy this nonsense for a minute, of course, because, really, this one looks way too young to be the kingpin.


In our continuing coverage of Vallenfyre (UK) and their forthcoming album, The Fragile King (due for release on Oct 31 in Europe and Nov 1 in North America), I found a video preview that surfaced yesterday on Metal Injection. It was filmed during the making of a music video for a song from the album called “Cathedrals of Dread” and features comments from each of the band’s members about how this “supergroup” came together and about the genesis of the music. It also includes snippets of the song, which provide further confirmation (though none is needed here) that this album will be a must-hear release.

Our most recent previous posts about Vallenfyre can be found here and here. The video preview is right after the jump. Continue reading »

Oct 042011

If you haven’t yet heard about Vallenfyre, then you must be new to NCS, because we’ve been frothing at the mouth about them ever since August, when we heard samples of a couple of songs and few people knew the identities of the band members (see our first post here and our update here). Now, the mystery has been solved, and the debut Vallenfyre album, A Fragile King, is due for release by Century Media on November 1.

Since our last post, there have been lots of developments coming out of the Vallenfyre camp. Most recently, as in today, a new song from the album premiered on the DECIBEL web site. The song is called “Desecration”, and in a much-appreciated display of generosity, DECIBEL has made the song stream embeddable, allowing us to play it for you right after the jump — but it will only be streaming for two days. I’m rushing at the moment, so I won’t try to craft a description — I’ll just say you need to hear it. (DECIBEL did provide a nice description of the music, and I’m including that after the jump, too.)

Also, (1) Vallenfyre now has a Facebook page (here); (2) you can hear snippets of all the songs on Amazon UK here; (3) you can pre-order the CD and a shirt here; and (4) the eye-catching album art is out (though you probably guessed that one already, didn’t you?).

After the jump, the song. Also, Vallenfyre rules. Continue reading »

Sep 032011

It’s Labor Day Weekend, August is a thing of the past, and as some people count it, summer is over. School is on the verge of resuming for people still attempting to educate themselves, and a ton of new metal tours are looming on the horizon for the fall. And of course, the fall will be filled with new album releases, too. Which brings us to the latest monthly edition of METAL IN THE FORGE.

You know the drill:  In these posts, we collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, we cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

Remember — this isn’t a cumulative list. If we found out about a new album before August, we wrote about it in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier. This month’s list begins right after the jump. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones. And feel free to tell us about how we fucked up by omitting releases that you’re stoked about. Continue reading »

Sep 022011

About five days ago we ran a post about a mysterious new UK death metal band called Vallenfyre who had recently signed to Century Media basically on the strength of a two-song 7″ single. Granted, after listening to excerpts of that single, it became immediately apparent why a venerable label like Century had signed this band, because the music is motherfuckin’ titanic.

In that earlier post (which generated quite a lot of interest as it turns out), I explained that despite hunting high and low over the trails of the interwebs, I had found very damn little information about the band. At the end of the post, I ventured a guess, based on the maturity of the music and appearance of the band members that they “have been metalling for a while, with other outfits.”

Well, holy fuck, was that a good guess. Today, Century Media released some additional details about Vallenfyre. For example, here’s who is in the band:

Gregor Mackintosh (PARADISE LOST) – Vocals and Lead Guitar
Hamish Glencross (MY DYING BRIDE) – Rhythm and Lead Guitars
Mully – Rhythm Guitars
Adrian Erlandsson (AT THE GATES, PARADISE LOST) – Drums

Good lord, is that an impressive collection of talent or what. And coincidentally, it wasn’t so long ago that we posted a feature about Adrian Erlandsson and his brother Daniel (here). But wait, there’s more: Vallenfyre’s debut album, A Fragile King, will be released on October 31 in Europe and on November 1 in NorthAm. And there’s still more (after the jump). Continue reading »

Aug 282011

Yesterday I spent some time on Blabbermouth catching up with metal news I’d missed over the last week. One of the reports caught my eye. It was about Century Media’s signing of a UK death metal band called Vallenfyre. Here’s what I read:

Just like SONNE ADAM from Israel, VALLENFYRE debuted with a seven-inch single on the underground label Imperium Productions and also shares a similar approach of mixing classic death metal with doom and in case of VALLENFYRE some British crust on top.

Commented Jens Prueter, head of A&R, Century Media Records Europe: “I was already blown away by VALLENFYRE’s old-school orgy of doomy and crusty death metal riffs when I heard the first demo last winter and the new seven-inch sounds even better. So I couldn’t hesitate to offer them a deal straight away. That’s how we signed GRAVE and ASPHYX over 20 years ago — and we all know that it was a good decision. So welcome to another chapter of Century Media’s death metal legacy.

“VALLENFYRE’s debut album, A Fragile King, is already recorded and will be released in late October 2011.

“If you like a mix of early ENTOMBED, CELTIC FROST, AUTOPSY and AMEBIX, you should hurry up to buy the last few copies of the ‘Desecration’ seven-inch single, which was limited to only 500 copies by Imperium Productions.”

All that peaked my curiosity, even making allowances for the well-tuned PR hype. So, I poked around to learn more about this band — and found almost nothing. But what I did find has gotten me extremely interested in this album. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »