Somehow i was
sure... Sooner or later, something would have triggered in the
exceptionally creative composer and guitarist Greg Mackintosh the passion
for going back
to the roots, to Doom Death and Old School Death . Unfortunately, it was a
sad, suffering occurrence that acted as trigger: the illness and death of Greg's father. Most songs
of "A Fragile King" deal indeed with this painful, very intimate trouble
yet the album is anything but funereal: religion, society, greed and even politics are also important themes
treated in the lyrics , and the music is very aggressive, extreme.
Although some songs convey a strong emotional anguish full of pathos and
a kind of enchanting grief, the essence of what Death Metal
was in in its 80's-90's remains always outstanding, striking hard
like a force of retribution.
Mr. Mackintosh is the leader of this new band (which features members of
Paradise Lost, At The Gates, and My Dying Bride), he began to write material before other musicians joined the
project and he is Vallenfyre's talented vocalist and utters
powerful growls after a career as seminal guitarist, pioneer of
the gothic subgenre. THIS is the surprise in Vallenfyre, in particular
if compared with a previous side project known as Order Of The Derelict. I didn't
expect him to be that "rapacious" singer. This is, in my opinion, the true surprise. In the recording process, 3 guitarists
where involved, when Greg played the lead guitar in some harmonic
passages, but in the Cathedral Of Dread- video and, i suppose, during live concerts
too, Greg Mackintosh is and will be vocalist/frontman "only".
However, the whole line-up is quite impressing.
Following the 7" 'Desecration', this studio album shows in all songs,
as already mentioned, sadness and angriness, melted together with different layers of brutal resolution.
The instrumental carpet is quality
of finest, there is an incredible precision in all the techniques
applied, and the bass is simply super. Memorable touches of lead guitarssimply
take the breath away. Although the listeners can
surely find signatures and reminiscences of old PL eras from the albums Gothic and Icon (i refer myself in particular to the typical distorted chords
and unmistakable melodic breakdowns), "A Fragile King" in the whole is a different concept
from PL because develops riffs and patterns which are present in classic Death but quite unknown in the PL production, without
speaking about the extraordinary pounding heaviness and brutality. The
rest is about awesome virtuosism in playing (one example for all is the song As
The World Collapses). The brilliant track called
Desecration is rich in uptodated relentless,memorable sinister harmony
The following track Ravenous Whore is a complete extreme song with an incredible
heavy, oppressing atmosphere. Cathedrals of Dread is pure Old School Death mixed with Doom in an interesting way. A Thousand Martyrs combines a big quote of
fury with a touch of unmistakable harmony. A great quality is shown in Seeds, which is an almost 5 minutes-long song so full of
melancholic, sad, doomish sinister, disturbing mood. It is the song that goes on right there where PL have stopped with
"Icon". Much eruptive aggression comes back with the short and intense Humanity
Wept, which seems almsot a song from American blasting bands.
My Black Siberia is obscure but
lively, rocking, extremely agreeably, the refrain with a great lead guitar is
exciting. A mega yes and hail to My Black Siberia: if you can, please abuse of this song
trying to find (in vain) your moment of saturation.
And then back to Old School Death with The Divine Have Fled which appear anyway atmospheric and cristal pure.
The Grim Irony closes the album with doomy menace and with all the ingredients of the previous songs ...and with a simple yet very beautiful outro.
A Fragile King is an album that honours the roots enlighted by bands like Death, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Saint Vitus, Candlemass going on with Entombed. This stuff will superbly impact live causing lots of souring necks and a lot of further
incredible sensations. needless to say, i hope that Vallenfyre will
perfom soon in the HeL(l)vetic Confederation
too. The detail i criticize is the song All
Will Suffer as opener. In my opinion, "A Fragile King" should have been opened directly by
Desecration, because i perceive All
Will Suffer as the only uninviting and boring "thing"
of this album.
Finally, the sound is
gives splendour to the straight-in-your-face rhythms. Vallenfyre is all i needed from the genius of Greg Mackintosh after "Icon".
Standout tracks: Desecration, My Black Siberia (fantastic!!), Seeds,
Humanity Wept, The Divine Have Fled, A Thousand Martyrs.
editor and grounder of GM since 2001