Saturday, January 21, 2012
Don't Fix What Ain't Broke: Vallenfyre's A Fragile King Leaves Room for Improvement (2011)
Being composed of members from legendary bands notwithstanding, I'd vouch Vallenfyre very much needs an introduction, especially if you're not familiar with death metal. Members of Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, and At the Gates call the band home, and while I don't have a vast amount of experience with any of those bands, I assumed the record was going to be an excellent listen because those groups have a mythical status throughout the metal community. I wasn't wrong on my assumption, as the majority of A Fragile King is delectable, but I find most of it feeling too samey. It's like the eating steak for a week in a row - yes, it's delicious the whole time, but it gets old quickly. That's not to say the album isn't kosher because it is, but the band could have mixed up the doomy death metal elements a little more before finalizing the tracks. They're almost too consistent.
You might proclaim the album as a total loss at this point, but, in reality, it's far from it. The razor blade guitar sound is excellent and awfully reminiscent of older death metal from the early '90s, pulled right out of the golden years. And that's exactly the kind of sound I think Vallenfyre was going for. After all, they're a part of the ever growing OSDM (old school death metal) revival movement that is highly thriving throughout many places in the world. The musicianship is quite good, though I expected nothing less from a band carved out of veteran members; I can't say it's particularly unique, as many of the OSDM revival bands are nothing more than carbon copies, but Vallenfyre has a dash of character to them that other groups don't appear to have. Their collective sound melds together to build upon what's already been established, and it's something you might think you've heard before, yet you pick up upon new elements that make them at least appear individualistic on the surface - and that's good enough for me.
A Fragile King is assuredly satisfying, but there's room for improvement. It's a tad too bland and samey sounding, but it's without question not a wasted listen, mainly beacuse it does what it's good at with ease: making death metal nasty, gritty, and raw again without gimmicks. Even if I don't exactly want to pop the album into the CD player all the time, it's still odious ol' death metal that warrants a look, notably important for first time death metal listeners, who I wholeheartedly recommend the album to.
Hey, do you really need to fix what ain't broken?
The Metal Advisor