The inmates are running the Asylum…
Bittersweet. That’s the feeling. It’s hard to describe but we all have had it happen to us one way or another. This album is that feeling for Valleys. The sweet? This record is their crowning achievement in what we hope will be a long and exciting career.
The Bitter? Mike Clement, the singer of Valleys and an incredible talent, passed away shortly before the release of this album. A heartbreak that can be only be described as simply shattering. He was immensely talented and this record is a testament to how talented he was. Thankfully, but with some heavy hearts, the band has decided to move forward and thank whomever you pray to (if at all) that they have because if this record is any indication, we have a lot to look forward to.
With Aslyum One , Valley’s presents to us a concept record about a person with multiple personality disorder. A daunting task to say the least. How does one try to emulate that? Valley’s nails it. More specifically, Mike Clement NAILS it. His soaring vocals, guttural growls and his gritting -teeth blood curdling yells give a feeling of loss and anxiety that is hard to describe. Songs like “Choices” or “Take Me Home” show these frenetic vocal changes in a manner that really makes the multiple personalities have a space, if that makes any sense. Giving each “Personality” a chance to breathe a bit on their own.
While Mike Clement is demolishing what one thought was possible with vocal chords, the band themselves are doing incredible things on this album as well. While songs like the albums opener “A Tension” or “Desperate Me” really pummel the listener its in the soft parts that the band really took a step forward. In “Compassion” for example the whole beginning is a fantastic change of pace from the frenetic background. In the middle of the song they even have congas and a Spanish guitar. Making for a soft contrast to the dark, brutal and almost violent riffs from the rest of the album.
In general Prog Metal is making strides where most bands aren’t. But what sets Asylum One and Valleys in general apart from the pack is the impressive songwriting choices they have made on this album and the gusto to follow a creative idea through to the end. We are all better for allowing the inmates to run the asylum this time.