Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valdrin - Beyond The Forest

When one thinks of melodic black metal, the United States is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. The States really are not known for it's abundance of quality black metal let alone quality melodic black metal. So imagine my surprise when I ran across Valdrin from Cincinnati. This band plays a melodic black metal that sounds like a cross between Dissection, Old Man's Child, with a touch (just a touch) of mid era Dimmu Borgir. This album is not only good but bordering on outstanding. I really hope this band can get some recognition because they may be the only band since Judas Iscariot to put the U.S.A. on the black metal map.

And let me get this out of the way first, this is not overtly keyboard laden goth metal disguised as black metal. These guys are the real deal. There is an intro on here that could have been a lot shorter and is a bit silly but it leads into the title track that clocks in at 10:22. This song is a fucking epic riff fest with riffs that remind me of early Dissection. The length of the song does not take anything away from it and it never gets boring. The vocals are actually typical black metal and are quite good. They never get in the way nor are they annoying. There are some really good solos which are not typical of the genre. The keys are used for atmosphere and do not take anything away from the songs. The production is clean and clear without being over produced.

There are songs that are more straight up black metal with blasts and good tremolo riffs such as "Serpent Willow" or "Calling to the Canidae Horde" that could have been on any of the classic Scandinavian second wave albums. Then there are those that are more melodic like "Impaled Visions Breed Within the Vines" and "Through the Catacombs" that use moderate keys but keep the guitars and the riffs up front. Then there is "Darkness As Black As Evil" that slows it down a bit and is more key oriented and (other than the intro) could be the only weak song on the album...and even it is not THAT bad. Then we have songs like the album closer, "Forgotten Souls", that are a mix of aggression and melody.

Sometimes when searching for some new music to listen to you run across a gem such as this one. This album is actually one that I have listened to several times in the past few weeks since it's release so it has staying power. If you like your black metal epic with a mix of melody and aggression then this album is essential.


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